Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

“We’re in a society where we have to justify play. But play reminds you of your better self and how happy you can be.  In play, there’s a wonderful lightness of being.”
–Nadia Stieglitz, founder, Mice At Play

Normally, I’m not a big Halloween person, but this year I felt like dressing up–mostly because Zora got a costume box for her birthday that came with a witch’s hat just my size. It’s way too big for her head, but it’s the perfect size to fit over my afro puff.

Truth be told, I wear this hat around the house all the time, not just on witchy holidays. Something about it immediately frees me from the pressure of my own seriousness. Maybe it’s the gray weave that’s stitched into the hat that keeps things light. In any case, I can’t help but smile when I’m wearing it.

I hope this silly photo inspires you to let your hair down a bit, too. I know it’s not always easy to just let go and have a ball, doing whatever makes you happy in the moment. For mothers, in particular, playing can engender guilt unless you’ve got a child in tow. You may feel like you need to do something “productive” with your free time.  Let me reassure you, you don’t!

Here’s your assignment: Forget being “useful” for a moment and do something you love for the pure fun of it instead. Make no explanations or apologies for it–to anyone, including yourself. This includes trying to “earn” play time by getting all of your to-do list items crossed off first. You’re in luck. The busy work isn’t going anywhere. Hop back to it later, or never. Play’s the priority right now.

If you can’t even think of anything fun to do, take this time to figure it out. Grab a marker or, better yet, a crayon and start scribbling out a playlist. Hint: Activities that lead to spontaneous smiles and uncontrollable laughter are good places to start.

In “Overwhelmed,” author Brigid Schulte tells the story of Barbara Brannen, a Colorado woman who reclaimed her playfulness by remembering the childhood loves she had set aside in adulthood. “She began reading the comics again and sitting down to play the piano for a few minutes when she walked by it,” Schulte writes. “She injected playfulness throughout her day, blasting music when it was time to clean out the closet or wearing head boppers at work. She stashed bubbles in the car for her kids when they got cranky and began carrying a wand in case she felt like waving it around when she was stuck in traffic.”

Barbara, you’re my inspiration! Readers, post your idea of pure fun in the comments section below to inspire others to make any day a play day. Thank you!