There’s been a rush on books about happiness lately, spurred the breakaway success of Gretchen Rubin’s life-changing The Happiness Projectwhich I still turn to all the time. And if there’s one new theme in non-cheesy inspirational books we’re excited to hear more about, it’s playfulness.

I mean, can’t we just have a little more fun already? Ideally, without first being all introspective and angsty about life, artfully Konmari-ing our homes, Tiger Momming our kids into after-school activity oblivion, and perfecting the art of mediation?

The answer is a resounding yes! And the absolute best place to start is with the brand new Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spiritour latest must-read recommendation for parents.

Whether you consider yourself The Fun Mom or The Mean One Who’s Always Saying No, I guarantee you’ll get a whole lot out of this book.

Penned by veritable fun guru (we want that title!), CMP friend, and frequent TODAY show contributor Meredith Sinclair, Well Played is a truly comprehensive book about..well, play. And reading it in and of itself is even fun.

With an easy helpful tone, and a helping of wit and humor to go with her solid expertise, Meredith has provided a totally guilt-free, truly encouraging, and wildly comprehensive guide to bringing more play into your life. Kind of like your best friend — the one with all the cool ideas and the scoop on all the local events — calling you with, “Hey! Let’s do this cool thing today!”

Let’s just say, when I read Meredith’s admission of understanding parents’ desires to stick “hot forks in our eyeballs because we JUST CAN’T MAKE ANOTHER MATCHBOX CAR NOISE” there’s no doubt she’s one of us.

Related: 7 cool playroom ideas for kids to allow you to reclaim your living room 

Well Played: the excellent new guide from Meredith Sinclair on awakening your family's creative, playful spirit

Well Played is packed with helpful tips, advice from experts and celebs like Nate Berkus and Kristen Bell, terrific anecdotes, words of encouragement, and actionable lists, all designed to help you get more play into your home, work, family, and relationships.

Her premise starts with the wisdom that your home needs to be play-ready, which doesn’t mean toys in every corner. Rather the opposite; if you’re on either end of the spectrum — obsessive neat freak or total trainwreck (hell0!) — it’s hard to truly relax and enjoy your space with the kids.

That’s something I hadn’t actually considered in those terms, and it makes a whole lot of sense.

From there, she goes on to offer hundreds of ideas that are practical, creative and actionable, and by page 33, I was ready to create a dedicated art gallery wall for the kids, a bowl full of LEGO bricks in a decorative bowl on my coffee table, and a “Tablecloth of Awesome.”

Related: How to create an organized art space for kids: 7 easy expert tips

Here’s just a very short list of some of the tips and topics covered that I really appreciated, and I think other parents will love too:

  • Tutorials for making homemade playhouses and other toys
  • Steps to making board games as appealing as a video gaming system
  • Avoiding Pinterest guilt as you search for ideas
  • Making reading out loud more fun, including books that will appeal to older listeners
  • Playful ways to kick open the doors of communication with your kids (something we also talked about recently on an episode of Spawned)
  • The 5 kinds of friends every woman needs in her own playgroup
  • An alternative to a book club with friends — hold the guilt and night-before cramming
  • Ways to get in exercise if you find working out to be drudgery
  • Playful date ideas with your mate or partner
  • How lifecasting through social media can get in the way of authentic play… (Meredith’s tip: “Log the hell out.”)
  • 6 questions to help you answer a personal play profile and figure out just how to get started with all this

Hey, we’re even in there!

Hit pages 201–2 for our 5 tips on turning work time into fun time, and you’ll get a little more insight to just why Kristen and I love what we do every day.

5 ways to turn work into fun at Cool Mom Picks | Well-Played, the new guide to awakening a playful spirit from Meredith Sinclair

I only feel the need to point out that as a city-dweller, not every single tip applies to me. Not all parents have endless space in our homes, garages, summer cottages, or even backyards, so some of the ideas, great as they are, I just have to read wistfully then move on. In other words, there will be no zipline or “backyard sound wall” for my kids, seeing as how I lack a backyard. Let alone a dedicated playroom.

Unless we decide to get rid of our dining room table. But then, where would we put our Tablecloth of Awesome?

Overall, I think Well Played is an amazing resource that you can either read through chapter by chapter to really dig into her philosophy for living better and getting more out of your family, or just grab it off the shelf and browse a few pages whenever you need inspiration — a rainy weekend day with the kids, a date night, or an upcoming family vacation in the woods with no WiFi.

I promise you’ll come away inspired and energized. And, if you’re like me, ready to start making a set of friendship bracelets for your besties this summer — with or without your kids around.

Starting today, you can buy Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit by Meredith Sinclair from our affiliate Amazon or your local bookseller. You can learn more about Meredith on her website, Meredith Plays.

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