11 Free Or Cheap Ideas For Relaxing Like A Kid


When I saw an article detailing an expensive preschool for adults in NYC, I couldn’t help but click on the link. It’s truly a brilliant idea. Who doesn’t want to go back to preschool? We didn’t have any responsibilities…like student loans, car payments, jobs, relationships, kids, or any of the other bazillion things we need to take care of as adults.

Unfortunately, an expensive preschool for adults in NYC isn’t a realistic option for many. Most of us don’t have money to spend on an activity like that, let alone the time to take off work.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some good ol’ childhood fun. Here are some free or cheap ideas that can take us back to the fun parts of childhood and relax:

1. Coloring books!

Coloring can help reduce stress, and there appears to be a major market for adult coloring books. Check out Amazon for a few ideas. You can also stop by the dollar store and pick up a kid’s coloring book to REALLY travel back in time. They have a ton of options!

If you don’t want to go out and buy a coloring book, you can find a coloring page online and print one at a time (typically $0.25 per page at the library).

2. Read a kid’s book!

I’m lucky, because I work for a program focused on early childhood literacy. If I’m stressed at work, I can grab a Dr. Seuss, or any number of other kid’s books stacked in my office. It takes me just a few minutes to chill out, enjoy a story, and admire the pictures.

But if you don’t have easy access to kid’s books, go to the library! Browse! Set aside your romance or adventure book for the evening and enjoy a blast from the past. You never know what you’re going to find!

3. Build a fort!

As someone who LOVES The Big Bang Theory, the recent episode where Sheldon and Amy build a fort tickled me pink. Building a fort is easy and fun. Grab your blankets, pillows, and chairs…and get going! Use whatever you have laying around your apartment.

4. Finger paint!

Finger painting is fun. It just is. It’s tactile, colorful, and you don’t need to do it for anyone but yourself. You can pick up some cheap finger paints at a craft store and spread out wax paper on the kitchen table, counter, or any other usable surface. When you’re done, it’s easy cleanup. If you want to keep the painting, use regular paper.

5. Play in the park!

In college, I would take a walk to a local park and swing. I loved it. I escaped exams, papers and drama for about an hour of free park time. Keep in mind, though, the rubber on the swings can stain your jeans, so wear old pants.

6. Build sand castles!

If you are lucky enough to live near a beach, build a sand castle city. If you don’t have access to buckets, use plastic bowls and spoons from the kitchen. If you have access to plastic figurines, bring them along too! Don’t forget to wear sunscreen.

7. Visit Toys’R’Us!

One of the best part of going to the toy store as a kid was playing with all the toys. You don’t need to buy anything…just “browse.” While you’re browsing, bounce a few balls, explore all the boxes, and test out anything that catches your eye.

8. Free or cheap kids movies!

I live in a city that hosts a free movie night in the park for families. It’s great. This year’s line-up includes Box Trolls and 101 Dalmatians. Grab a blanket and snacks from the dollar store for a nice relaxing evening out with friends, or even by yourself.

You can go another route with cheap movies! Some theaters charge $2 or $3 entrance fees on certain days. Or, you can borrow a DVD from the library, which always as a TON of kid oriented films.

9. Break out the old board games!

Not all of us have our classic board games lying around anymore. I gave most of mine away to younger family members. Still, it’s easy to get hooked up with board playing groups. It’s a popular activity with many social gatherings organized on MeetUp.com. A lot of local coffee shops also have game nights. Get out and go!

10. Have a kid themed slumber party!

If you have friends in the same city (or even visiting for the weekend,) have a kid themed slumber party. Chip in for pizza and pop, watch Disney movies you borrowed from the library, sleep on the floor, and do whatever it is you enjoyed doing as kids.

But since it is a kid themed slumber party…no alcohol, no rated R movies…keep it PG. Don’t include anything your parents would have yelled at you for at age 7.

11. Take a nap!

This is my favorite. We may have fought naps as kids, but now we wish we had more time to nap. If you have a few hours, turn off your phone and close your eyes. Sometimes I pull out my old rabbit, Oatmeal, for the sake of nostalgia.

The ideas are ENDLESS. We all have the capacity to build in a little kid-style fun into our busy 20 something (or older) adult lives. Go forth and be a child once again! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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