Adult Play (It’s not what you think!)

Seriously…it’s not.

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A Going Away Shin-Dig 

Recently, a group of our friends threw us a v small going away shin-dig (do people say that still?) It was a fun night, for MANY reasons, some of which I have outlined below. 

The night was SO fun, in fact, that I reflected for many days on what it was that made it so amazing. In the days that followed, I happened to be reading one of Brene Brown’s books, when I stumbled across the idea of “adult play.” (Don’t worry, this is all G rated.) 

But I’ll get back to that. For now, let me review some highlights. See below for proof of why this night was so stellar. (On an unrelated note, I feel that “stellar” is an underused adjective.)

  1. My friends made an AMAZING little back drop for us to all take pictures. They envisioned something glamorous to be spelled in the background, like, “Bon Voyage!” or “Adios!” (seeing as we had piñatas and tacos, this would have been aprops). Unfortunately, the frame of the shot was quite small, and all they had room for was “BYE” in all caps. No punctuation, no “good” before it, just BYE. 

2. Did you catch that I said there were PINATAS? OMG. It was so much fun. Shawn and I both attempted to break open the piñata, only one us of succeeded in breaking open the piñata.

…Why would you assume it was me that couldn’t break it open?

Okay, it was me.

3. At one point in the evening, I went to my friend and stated dramatically, “Uggghhhh, do you have a shirt I could borrow? I feel boring in this one.” This turned into everyone changing into different/more fun attire.

When we felt ready (30 + minutes later), we all headed to the “BYE” photobooth and proceeded to take 6,000 pictures. Everyone was in it. The dog was in it. We dragged the men and forced them in it. It was glorious. My stomach hurt three days after from laughing so hard.

dress up
Note: outfits are glitter and/or velour

Why am I telling you this story?

The next day, my friend and I were chatting about how much fun we had. “What was it about the night!?” we wondered. Why was is it SO MUCH FUN compared to other nights? Then my friend said, “I felt like an 8-year-old. It was awesome.”


We, fully grown, career driven adults, let loose on a Saturday night and embraced our INNER CHILD.

“Adult Play” 

Have you noticed that “playing” as an adult doesn’t exist? 

Play is actually super important to humans of all ages. Seriously! Google it! Brene Brown even talks about it in her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” (if the Oprah of social research says it, then we all need to listen.)

For example, The Washington Post ran an article in May 2017 called, “Why it’s good for grown ups to go play.” In it, they mention a number of researchers that highlight the importance of play for adults.

  • Peter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College explained that play actually has an evolutionary basis. Our ancestors used play for more than just having fun, they used it as a way to “keep the peace, which was critical for survival.”
  • Lynn Barnett, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ran a study that found that self-reported highly playful adults had better coping skills and reported less stress.
  • Stuart Brown is the founder of the National Institute for play, and stated, “Play is a basic human need as essential to our well-being as sleep, so when we’re low on play, our minds and bodies notice”

What are the negative repercussions if we neglect our innate need for play? Dr. Brown explains, “We might get cranky, rigid, feel stuck in a rut or feel victimized by life.”

Now, I will admit that playing dress up and taking pictures with your girlfriends is a pretty intense form of play. But play as an adult can really be anything, from collecting things like stamps or rocks (my husband gets really excited when he finds a cool rock…………) engaging in a recreational sport, playing an instrument, etc. If you feel stuck when you try to come up with ideas, think about yourself as a kid. What did he or she like to do?

Reintroducing (remember, we were all good at this once) play into your life will make you feel invigorated, less stressed, and happy like a kid again. What if more adults “playing” meant fewer people with drug or alcohol problems? What if it increased work performance? What if it strengthened the relationship you had with your partner? 

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Let me know in the comment section!

Article in case you’re interested!





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