Playtime for Children and Families – Why Having Fun Matters

Kids playing

Kids today are busy. Besides school and homework, there’s sports, clubs, music lessons, ballet and other activities that keep them on a structured schedule. It’s easy to see why kids can feel overwhelmed and anxious.

One way to combat this stress is through play. For children, time to play is a time to explore and have fun. As reported in The Journal of Pediatrics, “Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.”

Of course, extracurricular activities are also important for children’s overall good health and brain development, and free playtime should not be seen as something competing with that. Instead, it should be a natural part of a child’s schedule.

Parents can help children incorporate playtime into their everyday lives, and not only will it have positive results for the child, but for the whole family as well. Children and parents should have alone time, so parents can get their chores done while children have time to play on their own and learn how to entertain themselves. However, parents should also play with their children, and there are some simple ways to incorporate fun activities into busy lives.

For example, now that the warm weather is here, keeping some simple items in your car can lead to spontaneous play. Frisbees, chalk, balls, balloons and jump ropes don’t take up much room, and can be available at a moments notice. When you’re driving with your kids, look for spots that are free of traffic, get everyone out of the car, and use the chalk to draw a hopscotch pattern. Find a rock or other marker and use it to throw on the squares. Hop around with your kids and you will all get some exercise. While driving past a park or big open field, park the car and have a quick game of frisbee or a jump rope contest. Throw some balls back and forth, or if you don’t have anything with you, play a game of tag. Make a list of natural elements, such as acorns and pine cones, and have a scavenger hunt to see who can find all the things on the list the fastest. Blow up the balloons and have a volleyball game – who needs a net?

There are many ways to play whether by oneself or with family members. Both forms of play are beneficial and serve a purpose. According to the article “The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Development,” written for Montana State University, family activities “help develop strong family bonds, which can last a lifetime. Families who play together are more cooperative and supportive and have better communication.”

So, schedule some play time into everyday routines, and make happy memories that will last a lifetime. It will also give mom and dad some much need downtime just to have fun.

Written for About Families Magazine

Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month – Is it really an emergency? When to dial 911.

squad 1

There are many times you should call 911. If you or someone around you is in true medical distress, such as experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pains, bleeding, possible stroke, or any other serious health issues, then 911 should be called as soon as possible. If there are wires down, fire, a crime in progress, or other dangerous conditions to people or property, call 911 immediately.

However, if you want to report your neighbors making too much noise or want to find out when the snow plows will get to your street, or any other situation that is not an actual emergency, please call the regular police number at 908-322-7100.

One of our squad members, Joan Lozowski, who spent 29 years as a dispatcher for the Scotch Plains Police Department before recently retiring, said that people would call 911 for all sorts of non-emergency reasons. Some of these calls would be to ask for directions, to check road conditions, to find out when their power would be restored, and to report deer sightings. Her all-time favorite was when someone called to complain that his television remote was not working!

Obviously, these things are not emergencies and some do not require an EMS response at all. Furthermore, calling 911 and requesting an ambulance for a stubbed toe or other minor issue ties up an ambulance and crew and prevents them from responding to other more critical calls. So please take a minute to think: Is it really an emergency? It’s also important for children to understand when they should and should not call 911, so please discuss this with them.

Calling 911 when it isn’t necessary may prevent someone who is having a true crisis from getting through to dispatch. In turn, this can delay the person from getting the help they or their family so desperately need in a timely manner.

So the next time you’re thinking about dialing 911, please make sure it’s really necessary. Keep the line and resources available for those who really need them.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. With over 90 volunteers, we answer emergency calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed. Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green. We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do. In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge. Our Auxiliary Group holds fund raisers and provides other much needed support for our members. Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you, or if you would like to become a part of our organization. (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or

Contributing Author: Susan Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.


Any Dream Will Do – book review

Any Dream Will Do cover

People sometimes make bad choices, but this does not make them bad people who can’t atone for their mistakes and become productive members of society. This is the main message of “Any Dream Will Do.” Written by Debbie Macomber, who is known for her uplifting and sometimes spiritual books, this story is true to her style.

Having lost her mother at a young age, and a father who was often drunk and violent before his death, Shay Benson is more like a parent than a sister to her little brother Caden. Though she tries her best to steer him away from trouble and make a better life for herself, he makes some bad decisions that not only affect his own life, but Shay’s as well. Trying to save him from disaster and possible death lands her behind bars for three years. She is released after serving her time, only to find that her struggles are only just beginning.

As a convicted felon with little money and no place to call home, she is without hope and despairs of ever pulling herself out of the hole she has dug herself into. Luckily for Shay, she meets people who believe in her and show her the way to real freedom, where she is self-sufficient, confident and loved. In time, she obtains a job and her own apartment and also begins a healthy relationship. But when her past conspires against her, everything she has worked so hard for is threatened by the people who once brought her nothing but misery and destruction. Will Shay be able to survive and thrive, or will she lose herself and the life she has built all over again?

“Any Dream Will Do,” published in 2017, shows the importance of perseverance against all odds and how someone’s life can be turned around with a little help and a lot of luck. It illustrates the importance of giving people second chances while having faith that they will eventually make the right choices.

Debbie Macomber, a New York Times bestselling author multiple times over, has more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. Besides stand-alone books, she has written multiple series that usually take place in her home state of Washington in the U.S.A. Find out more about her and her books at

Written for The Woodbridge Magazine (UK)