Have you ever gotten out of bed in the morning, only to crawl back under the covers and wonder if you could just hide from the cruel, mean world for the day? Have you thought maybe, just maybe, if you build your pillow fort high enough, the debt collectors might give up calling you? Have you then wondered if you gathered enough supplies (i.e., snacks, books, and your favorite stuffed animal) that you could be able to make it through the holidays unscathed?
The older I get, the more I miss being a kid. I miss going to bed as the summer sun set behind the hill, my hair still damp from my evening bath, cuddling under freshly cleaned sheets still warm from the outdoor clothesline. I catch a whiff of the lilac bushes on spring days, and I remember gathering the full blooms together and taking them to school for my teacher. I miss living in a wooded valley where the silence sounded different after it snowed.
“I cannot avoid growing older. But I refuse to grow up. I will always be a kid in my heart.”
Lately, there are days that I reach for my coloring books, grab a cup of hot chocolate, and watch some favorite cartoons. I snuggle under my blanket, still in my PJs, and focus only on what color of a crayon I choose to use. It took me a long while to get to this point in my life; I will have you know. Guilt slunk out from its cave and hung over me like a vulture if I dared pull out a coloring book or fuzzy blanket. Mental reminders of laundry left undone and dirty dishes still in the sink flashed across my mind’s eye. As my sons grew older, I relished coloring or making Play-Doh sculptures with them. Yes, because I was spending time with my kids. But I also felt like I was a kid once again myself. Once my sons got too old to color and watch cartoons with their mother, Guilt found its way back into my space and reminded me of all the responsibilities the adult I had signed up for as I grew older. Soon, I remembered what my grandfather often said. “I cannot avoid growing older. But I refuse to grow up. I will always be a kid in my heart.”
I use PapPap as an example of someone who found his inner child and never let go of him. With a mischievous glint in his eye, he was always the first to find the best cartoons, sneak cherries into my glass of Pepsi, and run through the yard’s sprinkler with me on the hot summer days. And it was this summer that I realized that I could be a kid again. Why not?
My question to you is: how will you find your inner kid again? Is there something that pops into your mind right away? Awesome! If not, do not fear! You haven’t lost your inner child forever. Here are just a few ideas to help you find your inner child and, most importantly, permit yourself to be a kid again!
“When life throws you a rainy day, play in the puddles.”
–Winnie the Pooh
- Camp out in the backyard
Set up your tent just mere steps away from your back door. You’ll still have access to the facilities and food, but you can escape to your hiding place, settle in with a good book, and sleep under the stars.
Don’t have a tent? Make your own with some old bedsheets, a clothesline between two trees or poles, add some rocks to anchor the sides. Hang the sheets over the line, pull outward to make a triangle, secure the corners. Viola, you’ve made your very own gypsy tent!
2. Find a swing and use it
Live by a park, or have ample space of your own? Swings are known to be stress relievers for all ages! Think of the fresh air you are pulling into your lungs with every pump of your legs, and believe it or not, it’s considered exercise! Remember, you don’t have to have a shoe-throwing competition or see who can touch the clouds first. Just find your own pace, your tempo to the symphony of the swing’s creaks and clicks. Focus on the wisps of wind that gather behind you to rock you and lull your frazzled nerves.
3. Play in the rain and jump in the puddles
One of my earliest memories is walking in the rain. I was only a toddler, but I remember it well. I wore a pink shirt and matching pink shorts. I only retained a glimpse of this memory, but it was enough to shape how I look at every rainfall—a chance to jump in the puddles. When I was little, I lived barefoot. My favorite thoughts are running through our field, feeling each blade of grass slip through my toes as they reached towards the shining sun above. But nothing compared to running outside during a warm summer’s rain and searching for the largest puddle I could find. This idea leads me back to my very first memory. My father gifted me with my appreciation for a good rainfall. He would always be ahead of me, holding the door open so we could find the puddles together. And in this vivid memory, he is with me showing me how to jump up and down to make the warm water ripple around our bare feet. And I quickly catch a glimpse of my mother in the doorway, smiling at our efforts and holding the awaiting dry towels. Now I urge you, the next time it rains that gentle summer shower, void of the turbulent lightning and thunder, kick off your shoes, run out your door and go on a search for the biggest puddle you can find!
4. Find a coloring book and crayons
I’ve already mentioned that I tend to retreat to my coloring books when I need to escape my adult world. Again, I look back at the memories of coloring with my mother; I would color the left page as she colored the right one. I would admire how she stayed in the lines and created darker colors by adjusting the pressure of her grip on the crayon. Now I catch myself sitting back to admire my handiwork after I complete a page in my book.
5. Fingerpaint and hang it on the fridge
When my sons were toddlers, a favorite thing to do was capture their growing handprints in paint. We would then proudly hang them on the refrigerator for all to see. Grab yourself some paint and draw your very own masterpiece. Don’t forget to hang it on the fridge too!
6. Press flowers or leaves in a book
Have you ever bought a book from a secondhand store, brought it home, and opened it to have a gently pressed flower fall onto your lap? If you’re like me and look for vintage first editions, you like your books older; the older, the better. I’ve been amazed at the number of tiny wildflowers I’ve found tucked away for safekeeping by the previous owner. You can also achieve this by putting the colorful autumn leaves in between pages of a book. They will eventually dry but keep their brilliant color for others to appreciate.
7. Go for a bike ride
I’m sure you’ve heard that once you learn to ride a bicycle, you never forget. Well, your brain may never forget- the synapses may remember their pathways- but your muscles may yell at you at first, momentarily forgetting their role of pedaling uphill. I recently was gifted a beautiful old blue bike with a wicker basket on the front. Of course, I jumped on it like I did when I was ten. But my much older mind reminded me of the age difference as I tried to remember how to balance and brake. It was, however, glorious to weave back and forth along the road once again.
8. Find a fishing hole
My childhood home had a creek running through the backyard, and every summer, my brother and I went fishing off the wooden bridge that spanned its width. We gathered up fine-looking sticks that would serve as solid poles, borrowed our mother’s kitchen twine, and snag the open bag of Oreos. Out to the creek we’d go to catch us some minnows. We tied said cookie to the straight stick with the twine, sat on the wooden bridge, and dropped our lines into the water. Did we ever catch anything? Nope. Did we have fun trying? Yep. I’m not saying to grab your pantry’s cookies, but if you want to take it up a notch, grab a pole and some bait, find a lake or river, and try your best to catch a whopper!
9. Take a nap with the windows open
I love afternoon naps! There I said it. Of course, Guilt, that vulture who lurked in the corners, tried to convince me that I was wasting my day. But did you know that regular naps are greatly encouraged by doctors? They boost memory, improve job performance, and help with stress levels. The next time you lay down to rest, open your bedroom window in the warmer months and let the breeze tickle your toes. If it’s cold, wrap up in a fleece blanket and watch the snowfall outside.
10. Blow the dust off some of your favorite toys
Fold some paper planes, set up your racetrack and matchbox cars, grab your old, seasoned baseball glove and call up a friend to play some catch. My 90-year-old grandmother knew what it was like to be a kid. For Christmas a few years ago, she pointed to a few packages under her tree that had my name written on them. “Santa dropped these off for you,” she said with a giggle and smile. I tore the wrapping paper off the boxes to find a brand-new Cabbage Patch Kid doll, a Wizard of Oz tea set, and a Pop-up book of fairy tales. You never outgrow your favorite things! Just ask Grandma!
I certainly hope these ideas spark your interest in finding your inner child! How will you learn to be a kid again?