Play is one of the most beneficial activities for children. And parents’ participation in play is an important part of the process. Not simply for bonding, but also for learning language and emotional intelligence. The problem is, in our distracted and over-scheduled age, it’s not always easy to get into the play mindset. Stressors are ever present. Also, frankly, the repetition, wild leaps of imagination, and grating childishness of certain age-appropriate activities can, if you’re not in the right mindset, get old quickly. Many parents simply have a hard time getting into the flow of play, which is why many are turning to a substance that lets them break down the wall and fully engage in playtime: Cannabis.
For parents who are up for it say THC-infused play keys them into their children’s needs and ideas. It makes them more present. “Call it play therapy,” an anonymous dad wrote for us. “Maybe twice a month, at most, I fence off a few hours I can devote to my kids and then head upstairs to the master bathroom where I take a single hit of marijuana, before descending the stairs to the playroom. I then turn off whatever dumb show my kids might be watching and follow them into the imaginative land of their choosing.” Importantly, he added, during these times he listens to them and responds more thoughtfully. He follows them through weird narratives. He dresses up. He plays along. He says yes.
In other words, smoking a little weed helps him feel a bit more engaged. He’s not alone. As legalized marijuana makes weed more acceptable and accessible, this practice isn’t rare. According to a study conducted by cannabis delivery service Eaze, one in five marijuana users are parents. Of those parents, vaping was the most preferred option. Fifty percent of parents said they preferred it over alcohol. Considering cannabis has been proven to decrease stress, it’s easy to understand why a quick drag on a vape is essentially becoming the new nightcap.
We spoke to a variety of parents who have used — or regularly use — cannabis to enhance play. All echoed the same refrain: Precautions must be taken. Only a small hit (or bite) should be taken. Never experiment with anything new. Always, always lock up the stuff in a lock box or other safe, child-proof area. And only use it in moderation. With that it mind, the moms and dads we spoke to say its made them more receptive to their kids’ style of play and helped them connect on a new level. Here’s what they told us.
It Helps Me Be the Partner-in-Play They Deserve
“I don’t make a habit of it, but on the rare occasion when I’m stressed, hell yeah I take a small hit. My kids are young — four and five — and playtime with them requires you to suspend reality. When it’s time to play with them, I don’t want to be a fucking downer and be able to move from one weird fantasy scenario to an impromptu silly face making contest or dance party, you know? Taking a bite of a pot brownie — yes, pot is legal in my state; no I won’t mess with the stuff that’s not sold at a dispensary — allows me to really play with them like they deserve during times when my mind is worried about other stuff. It also makes listening to — and dancing to — ‘Baby Shark’ for the thousandth time much, much better.” — Trisha, Denver, CO
It Makes Imagination Second Nature
I’ve been using cannabis products for more than half my life. So, I understand how they work and how they affect me. Once a week or so I’ll enjoy a pot gummy and have “imagination hour” with my kids. No screens. No toys. No music. We wrap ourselves in blankets and flip on the string lights in their bedroom and make up a story once sentence — or word — at a time. We take turns. I say a sentence or word. The next person in the game goes, and so on and so forth, round and round until we’re either doubled over in giggles or its time to go to bed. It’s a really fun game. The gummy kicks in for me right in the middle of the game when I might be getting antsy or start thinking about other crap I have to do. It helps me be enthusiastic and it makes imagination more second nature, you know? — Jeremy, Mobile, AL
It Helps Me Be My Most Enthusiastic Self
“The first time I played with my kid while high, I didn’t do it intentionally. I was a little high already and played with him. No, I’m not an idiot and my wife was sober and there, too. I had been with some friends earlier in the afternoon. But it made it so much better. We have this lion puzzle that’s, like, eight pieces in total and my toddler loves to build it again and again. Every time he got a piece in a slot, I was so, so, so amped. High fives. Hoorays. Lots of clapping. Sometimes, when you’ve done something for the hundredth time, that enthusiasm can be hard to fake. But I was definitely not faking it. And he was psyched. That’s so worth it. Occasionally, I will take a hit and then we’ll draw for hours. Or we’ll watch Doc McStuffins and I won’t want to pull my hair out. I’m present. This isn’t to say that I’m not present on other occasions. It’s just different. All depends on the day and what I’ve had to deal with.” — Steph, Springfield, MA
It Makes Me Less Annoyed About Not Following the Rules
“If it’s movie night with the kids, I will definitely smoke up a little bit. Minions loses something after the 30th viewing but the bleeps and bloops coming from those little yellow goggle-wearers are way more entertaining — and popcorn tastes better. And I have gotten high before playtime. One time my kids and I were playing Candyland and they wanted to play with ‘different rules’ which meant complete nonsense rules made up on the fly. Under normal circumstances I would’ve asked them to follow the regular rules. But I was game for their rules and it was really fun. We just sort of moved around the board to different areas fighting creatures and saving imaginary princesses. It was fun and, if I’m being honest, something that wouldn’t have happened under normal circumstances. I’m more inclined to follow the written rules.” — Chris, Austin, TX
It Helps Me Be in the Moment
Yeah, I have smoked a little before playing with my kids. I have a really stressful schedule and don’t want to take it out on my kids. Weed helps me relax a bit. I’ve been smoking for a long time so it doesn’t impair me; it just makes me able to enjoy the moment with my kids. I’m there. I’m present. I’m not focusing on who I need to call or what I need to file by midnight. The best thing to do? Finger painting might be the most boring thing to do with kids. But finger painting with kids while high is pretty fun. — Colin, Chicago