Messing around, goofing off, being silly, NOT acting our ages, allowing ourselves to get completely lost in a playful experience and child-like F.U.N.
All of that can seem fully frivolous and irresponsible once we finally reached grown-up status.
But the truth is (and there is a whole mess of brain research to back it up... Google it), that without regular bouts of unabashed play time, we grown-ups simply aren't living our very "best lives." And our kids end up having all the fun. Which is so wrong on so many levels.
While we talk talk talk about how important free, creative, unstructured play is to the well-being of our tech-obsessed youngins, our own lack of playfulness and digital addiction speaks a whole lot louder than our parental rants. That smarty pants Plato once said, "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation."
I've experienced this over and over again with my own boys, both of whom are now teenagers. My kids and I have bonded way more over blanket forts, Nerf Blaster battles, and the back and forth with a baseball, than any "how was your day?" inquiry.
I'm not suggesting that we must play all the time with our beloved offspring in order to be good parents. Please, save your "helicopter parenting" comments, m-kay? What I am suggesting and know to be true in my own life is that a little more playfulness in our day-to-day, will connects us to your own little happy place like nothing else. And makes us overall happier humans.
Along with all those other resolutions we're trying to achieve in this new year, I say we need to permit ourselves to be a bit more "well played" in 2016 too.
Here are some sure-fire ways to awaken your playful spirit (and your family's), in the coming year. And if I'm wrong, at least you'll all have had a really great time trying.
52 Ways to Awaken Your Playful Spirit in 2016
1. Tuck your ego away and be cool with acting a complete fool now and again.
2. Spend more money on experiences than stuff.
3. If you're too busy after school to have "Family Game Night," try "Family Game Morning." A round of "Catch Phrase or "Heads Up" at breakfast is a supercalifragilistic way to start the day.
4. Play freeze dance with your little people before bed... use your iPhone and take turns being the controller of the tunes.
5. Play truth or dare with a pack of CLOSE have-your-back kinda friends. What happens at truth or dare, stays at truth or dare.
6. Sample a couple new workouts that sound just weird enough to be fun. (I'm moving to LA this summer and I'm totally trying the "sandbox workout.")
7 Play pretend more... with your kids, by yourself, or with your partner... winkity wink).
8. Sleep WELL. Nobody's got energy to be playful when their arses are draggin'.
9. Learn one new joke, riddle, or tongue twister a week and tell it each Monday at breakfast.
10. Watch "Family Feud" with your teens... I don't know why, but this show is a magnet for my boys and we all HOWL at the bizarre and saucy things the "survey says."
11. Splurge on something playfully ridiculous for your home like THIS STUFF.
12. Roll down a grassy or snowy hill with your kids.
13. Buy an inexpensive balloon-animal making kit and twist away one night after dinner. (Find these at your local party store.)
14. SKIP somewhere at least once a week... even if it's just from your bed to the coffee machine.
15. Doodle your to-do list instead of using words.
16 Text your partner or kids ridiculous gifs during their lunch breaks at work or school.
17. Buy a miniature disco ball for your kitchen island, desk, or window sill. (I found mine at the party store.)
18. Have a surprise-attack pillow fight with your best mate.
19. Freeze containers of water in the freezer with plastic animals inside. Kids LOVE using various utensils to dig the ice-aged creatures out. And it's a great stress reliever!
20. Jump on your bike all by yourself, with no destination, and just enjoy the ride.
21. Learn to play an instrument... even if it's just the tambourine. Good ones to start with: harmonica or ukulele.
22. Plan a game night with your favorite couples and try a few games you've never played.
23. Wear a vibrant COLOR that feels a teensy too bold and bright. It'll make you feel FUN.
24. Playdoh... the smell, the tactile awesomeness, the potential for sculptural greatness, the stress reduction. Play with that stuff.
25. Jump on the adult coloring book trend. Your inner 5-year-old will send you the fist bump emoji.
26. Buy The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Book for Girls. And then pore over them with your kids.
27. Listen to more music. Any kind of music. Way more often.
28. Rally your girlfriends for a Field Trip Day! Visit the art museum, bike through a nature preserve, hit an amusement park (sans kids), do something daring together.
29. Buy a jump rope and JUMP. Not to get in shape, just because... JUMPING!!
30. Learn how to take photos with an actual camera. Then take loads of photos with no intention for pimping them out for "likes."
31. Jump on your bed.
32. "Sing, sing a song. Make it simple, to last your whole life long. Don't worry if it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing. Sing a song." -- Sesame Street.
33. Drink more champagne. Because BUBBLES!!
34. Blow more bubbles... with gum, with a wand, in a house, on a train, in a tree, in the rain.
35. Read Dr. Suess out loud. To anyone who'll listen.
36. Keep party poppers on a secret shelf and fire a bunch off when something GREAT happens to someone in your family.
37. Swap your boring blue pens for vibrant colored ones with which to complete your daily to-do lists.
39. Stop loathing the playground and get yourself on the swings! Show those kids what an awesome swing jump really looks like. Then see which one of you can leap off and land farthest away.
40. Allow for daydreaming.
41. Dress up with your kids and be the biggest pig in the puddle. Blow their minds with your willingness to really "go there."
42. Have a tickle "fight" with one of your kids. They always win, so know that.
43. Have a staring/no laughing contest with your kids. They always win, so know that.
44. Wrestle with your kids. They always win...
45. Spend more time LIVING than scrolling.
46. Plan a PLAYdate once a month with your partner. Swap dinner and a movie with something more play-full. Bowling night, arcade games and pizza, a picnic at the beach and some frisbee. (play makes the heart grow fonder).
47. PLAN for 20 minutes of PLAY every day. Twenty minutes of something that makes your heart sing. Allow yourself to get lost in that something for just 20 minutes. You can do that.
48. Walk and play more with your dog. If you don't have a dog, you should really consider getting one. They are literally PLAY with fur and four legs.
49. Never pass up the chance to jump on a trampoline. (I know moms, just empty that bladder first.)
50. Never pass up the chance to surprise someone with a random act of awesome.
51. Never pass up the chance to belly laugh. I mean the kind that feels like an ab. workout.
52. Don't overthink this list. We are born knowing how to play and we never lose our desire to be fully engulfed in a playful experience. It's built into our DNA. Aiming to add more playfulness into your life means it's bound to show up. Look UP from your devices and you'll soon see it skipping around the bend.