#Playon, Laugh, Grow in 4 Easy Steps


We all have our up and downs, and this year hasn’t been any exception. It seems the older we get in life, the more serious we have to take things, and yet, the sadder we become because we’re missing out on the simple things in life that make us happy. 

The one thing that makes me happy, you ask? Well, this is it. It took me about 32 years to realize I was always meant to be a mom, and be at home with my son. But. I work a lot. Sometimes too much – but that’s the balance of being able to work and be at home as a single mom in New York City. However, life is too short not to have ANY fun – and I recently remembered way back a couple years ago when taking on new clients and job opportunities – that I always TOLD them straight up: I take one day a week to be nothing but a mom. No emails, no texts, no work. Just Max and myself. 

Balance: finding happiness in what you do. On assignment at Camelback Resort: getting paid to be a mom.

Balance: finding happiness in what you do. On assignment at Camelback Resort: getting paid to be a mom.

Do you honestly want to know how long it’s been since I’ve been able to do that consistently week after week? 

So my goal is to get back on track. Mentally. Not worry about eating so healthy, not worry that I might be a few pounds from my goal weight for this summer, but to actually ENJOY life. I mean, – holy F it’s already May? Where is 2015 going? The years are flying by and I don’t want to be the one who looks back 40 years from now and goes – I really wish I would’ve realized what I had back then and took the time to enjoy it more. So here’s my challenge for you.


Sounds so simple, right? I get to go to so many cool events up here in NYC – it’s just a perk of city mom life. But the one thing I’ve seen a pattern in this year – pushing the notion of play. From Johnson and Johnson Band-aids encouraging play in all aspects of life, to Blick Art Studio bringing in famed artist Lotta  to show us how to be more creative in our everyday lives. – We should ALL be playing more – not just our kids.

 1. Art


Remember those fun art classes you got to take in school and college and couldn’t believe you were actually getting credit for it? Those times of day were incredibly important because creativity helps with all aspects of your life.  I had the chance to work side-by-side with Lotta Jansdotter (you probably own something that has one of her designs on it!) learning that I actually DO have a creative side. We did some stamping (using phone rubber phone cases cut into designs!) and stenciling, as she showed me I can actually create my OWN everyday printing designs to use at home. 


Let’s just say – you might be getting one of these fab new note cards in the mail – I WILL find the time to write out some personalized notes to my dearest missed friends out there. 


PS – the rubber phone cases, you ask? Those actually came from Materials for the Arts – a 35,000 square foot nonprofit warehouse over here in LIC that holds tons of materials that can be used in NYC public schools art programs. So, you donate items, they sort them, and then teachers and artists can come and get all these products – for free – to help kids be creative. Remember, before you throw things out – usually they can always be reused or donated for someone else in need! 

2. Adult Coloring Books

Did you see you can even get adult coloring books now?  The Huffington Post reports that coloring is one of the NUMBER ONE ways to de-stress, and it’s not a joke – these coloring books are flying off the shelves. YES! I want one of these for Mother’s Day, please. 

3. Gardening


Planting new herbs for the windowsill with J&J and Kaboom. #playon


Not only are you helping the Earth and bringing fresher oxygen into your home (we can all use some here in NYC!), AND get to eat the plants – if they’re herbs – it’s proven that getting your hands dirty and just touching tangible things is great for de-stressing as well. You get back to your roots, literally.

Kaboom is another great organization that encourages more play. Children (and adults!) are missing out on their childhood by spending too much time inside and on electronic devices instead of getting their hands dirty outside. It’s finally nice outside again – make it a point to spend a few minutes out there – and put the phone down!

4. Taking a break

Think about it – if you’re just sitting around at a desk all day typing away, not talking to anyone – how creative can you really be?

[tweet_box]Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. – Mark Twain[/tweet_box]

And yes, that is an actual photo from Turks and Caicos above – where I’ll be heading again in June – kid-free. And no, I don’t feel guilty about sneaking away for a few days to spend some time alone with my girlfriends on the beach, and you shouldn’t either – read how to take a vacation without the kids here




So Blick Art gave me these two fabulous $25 gift cards – one for me and one to giveaway but I whole heartedly want you to be able to have a little fun just as much – so I’m going to give you both of them to go and find something that will make you happy. And then I want you to share it with me. 

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About the Author:

Stephanie Barnhart is an award-winning blogger, columnist, and outdoor enthusiast writer featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times and other media outlets. She is also the NYC Editor for MommyNearest.com.


  1. Nicole Renee May 1, 2015 at 8:54 am

    It looks like you had a blast!! And I would LOVE one of those adult coloring books 🙂

  2. Jennifer Rabulan-Bertram May 1, 2015 at 8:59 am

    I love this! It’s so important to take care of YOU!

  3. Laurie Leahey May 8, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I was at the #playon event, too! I think it’s so important for adults to “play” in whatever form that may be so that we don’t lose out on our child-like innocence and we really stop and take care of ourselves!!

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