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7 favorite coloring books for adults {screen-free time together}

liz lamoreux

While I was planning June's One Move Retreat, I began to think about the Bold Moves I wanted to make in my own life. One move that fell into the "everyday life" bold move category was "Making Dinner and Eating Every Night at the Table." As I took that Bold Move through the process that I taught the women at the retreat and began to feel the weight of somehow figuring out how to make that happen, I realized the feelings and desires under this declaration were summed up better by "More Screen-Free Time Together." 

And when I say "screen-free," I'm usually talking about me. Ellie's only five and we haven't yet had a problem with her wanting to be on an iPad more than wanting to do things with us. She does watch TV, but often says, "I'm ready to turn this off now." This doesn't mean that we don't have issues with it all from time to time, but I'm the one who is running several aspects of my business from (almost) every device in the house and I'm the one who has trouble implementing "business hours" when it comes to my Facebook groups and customer emails. So sometimes I have to be pushed to set aside time without the phone. Jon's on his phone more and more these days, so it is good for him to put it away too.

As parents of a little one, it is so easy to feel like we're taking a few moments "for ourselves" when we look at our phones while they are busy playing, but sometimes, not always but sometimes, we are disconnecting from our lives, from the beauty in our homes, from noticing the little nuances in our child's and family's life when we just quickly check to see if anyone has liked our cute photo of our kid on Instagram.

So a few months ago, I began gathering a few "go-to" moves that we could do during some screen-free time together. I'm going to share them in a series of posts in the hopes that they inspire you to take some screen-free time for yourself whether you have kids or not.

First up: Coloring!

You might have noticed that coloring is in. And by in, I mean it is EVERYWHERE! You can't walk into any bookstore or even a gift shop without seeing coloring books for adults and kids. 

A few months back I wrote about the mindfulness of coloring, and since then, it's gotten even bigger.

Coloring has become one of my family's current favorite activities. In the summer, we're spending time outside on quilts in the backyard and coloring and doing other crafts, and we're using coloring as a way to quiet down in the evenings. Bed time has been a struggle some evenings. I find that it we turn off the tv and say no to a special movie night even though it's summer and it sometimes feels like every night could become movie night because no one has to get up early for school the next day, we all feel a bit more centered and less grumpy the next day. Having a family activity before bed seems to be helping this. (Of course we don't do this every night. But the ease that we find when we do is something I'm noticing.)

Usually we each choose a coloring book and then take our plastic tub of colored pencils to the table or backporch and play some music and quietly color. And again, of course it isn't always full of ease. But we are getting into a groove with this one.

Here are my current seven favorite coloring books for adults that we're having fun with over here. Ellie sometimes colors in these books and sometimes colors in her other books. We find that the books with more details, like most of these, are better suited for colored pencils or a very fresh box of crayons. 

1. Creative Coloring Inspirations by Valentina Harper

We just call this one the "Today is going to be awesome" book because of the image on the cover. I love Valentina's artwork and was completely delighted to find her series of coloring books. I highly recommend them especially if you want to color really intricate designs. With this specific book there are encouraging and inspirational phrases throughout that you can hang on your wall when you finish. We're also sending some in the mail to friends and family. The pages are easy to tear out, which is another awesome feature.

2. Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford

This book is so gorgeous inside. It has quite a few details but they aren't super small, so I found it really relaxing. I also like that the pages are cream, which makes me feel like I don't have to color in every bit of white space. It includes a little treasure hunt inside, like a Look and Find book, and Ellie loves this part.

Note that this one is temporarily out of stock on Amazon but it looks like you can still order it. I found mine at our local Barnes and Noble. And it looks like you can find it at Paper Source and Urban Outfitters has the Enchanted Forest edition.

3. Just about any mandala coloring book

Jon loves coloring mandalas, and his current favorites are Mandala Designs from Peter Pauper Press, Creative Coloring Mandala Expressions also by Valentina Harper, and Mandala Design Coloring Book by Jenean Morrison. Next on his list is 

4. Just Add Color Botanicals by Lisa Congdon

This coloring book is gorgeous. The pages are nice and thick so you could easily use fine point markers or even watercolors to color the pages. The designs are detailed but not tiny. And you can easily tear out the pages. This is one I'd take with me to a coffee shop to color for a while before picking Ellie up from school and sit there with a few colors and just have fun. It's temporarily out of stock at Amazon, but available at Barnes and Noble online.

5. Calming Colouring: Patterns by Graham Leslie McCallum

This one is great for all ages. Ellie has claimed it as hers, and the repeat patterns actually do seem to center her as she chooses her colors and gets into a rhythm. Some of the patterns aren't as intricate as other coloring books out there, and I think that will appeal to those who want to finish a complete page in one sitting. The designs are a bit more streamlined too. I also like the Nature Patterns edition in this series.

6. Flow Magazine's Coloring Book by Helen Dardik and Carolyn Gavin

I stumbled across this one in the magazine section of Barnes and Noble. It's published by Flow Magazine. It's a very sweet coloring book full of images that just make me smile. Ellie loves it too. You can order it from Flow Magazine here (and see examples of pages).

7. Dapper Animals by Thaneeya McArdle

This one is our newest coloring book and it just makes me so happy. From an octopus playing a guitar to a llama in a winter hat, it is full of so many delightful characters to color and make your own. Fun for all ages because while there are a lot of details, the patters aren't too intricate.

Of course you do not need this many coloring books to get started. Just choose one! And have fun! I'll be bringing these to my next retreat so that the ladies can enjoy diving into this world of coloring and learn first hand how it becomes a really beautiful self-care pracitce.

Note: Most of these links are to Amazon, but I've also had a lot of luck finding several of these on sale at Zulily from time to time. Most of these links are affiliate, which means I receive a small commission if you purchase through the site.