I recently spent an afternoon at an open house for a primary school and was reminded several times that day that I am no longer a child.
This is adulting—heavy adulting. I am now a mother, in my 30s, and I have a child old enough to attend school. In fact, I’m old enough to have friends with children who are graduating. As I filled out the forms and collected all of the information for the PTA and soccer sign-ups, I kept feeling like I should be the one in school. Where has the time gone?
Childhood is precious and oh-so-short, but the truth is that no matter how old we get, we may still feel young inside. Even when we’re paying bills, working, and driving our cars around, there are those flashes of what it was to be a child, a teenager, and a young adult. All of those versions of us are still in there. To access the joy of childhood, of earlier times, of simple things, is easy. There are so many small things we can do to bring back that sense of magic and freedom and fun.
Here are 50 off the top of my head. May they be of benefit in delighting your inner child:
1. Make a wish on a dandelion.
2. Stay out at night and watch the fireflies—not to catch, just to admire.
3. Lay outside on a cloudy day and look for familiar shapes in cloud formations.
4. Wish upon a star (falling stars work, too).
5. Color in a coloring book with crayons, gel pens, or markers.
6. Handwrite a note to a friend and mail it (even if your friend is local).
7. Finger paint.
8. Take a walk in the rain. Stomp in some mud puddles!
9. Read a fairytale.
10. Read a story out loud—to yourself or someone else.
11. Listen to a story being read.
12. Get dressed up and have a tea party—at home or at a local tea room. Wear a hat, layer on the costume jewelry, or simply dress to impress. Just have fun with it!
13. Try an exercise from childhood—hula hoop, jump rope, or get some friends together to play ball.
14. Jump on a trampoline. Many cities now have indoor trampoline parks!
15. Indulge in a daydream.
16. Stretch out and take a nap.
17. Challenge friends to a water balloon or water gun fight! (Snowballs work, too—weather permitting.)
18. Have an organized pillow fight or nerf gun battle.
19. Host a family or friend field day. Compete for little prizes, like homemade ribbons, trophies, or sweet treats.
20. Watch cartoons from your childhood while eating a favorite breakfast cereal.
21. Go roller skating or ice skating.
22. Play a board game.
23. Read a book you loved as a child.
24. Have a sleepover with friends. Girlfriend getaways or other themed friend trips are a great way to reconnect with your joy.
25. Have an ice cream cone or make a banana split.
26. Sing in the shower.
27. Dance—whenever and wherever. Dance while you clean the house or dance when you hear a song you love. Just dance!
28. Participate in a scavenger hunt. A traveling couple I met told me that they take day trips and post pictures online of places they visit. They don’t identify the places. They challenge family and friends to guess the destination. There are so many fun ways to do this. Be creative!
29. Play laser tag or paint ball.
30. Have a campfire and tell spooky stories.
31. Go camping.
32. Make s’mores.
33. Go to an outdoor or drive-in movie.
34. Make a fort. Blankets and living room furniture work nicely. Make it comfy and spend time inside.
35. Make shadow puppets on the wall using a flashlight.
36. Make, bake, and decorate cookies.
37. Host a treasure hunt! Make a map and play indoors, or hide a treasure outside. Geocaching and letter-boxing are great ways to do this, too.
38. Wrap a present inside a present and give it to someone for no reason. Enjoy their joy.
39. Go sledding! If the weather doesn’t permit, many parks offer hills you can slide down with a homemade sled. Or, alternately, make your own slip-and-slide to enjoy in the hot months.
40. Phone a friend. Enjoy a long conversation.
41. Play with play dough or clay.
42. Play an outdoor game—croquet, bocce, or a DIY outdoor game like “Hungry Hungry Hippos” or a messy version of “Twister” with colored shaving cream.
43. Host an “Office Olympics,” officially or unofficially.
44. Have a picnic.
45. Go for a nature walk.
46. Pick a bouquet of wildflowers—not too many though. Leave some for others to enjoy.
47. Visit a petting zoo.
48. Pick your own produce. Many farms offer pick-your-own options such as strawberries, cherries, apples, blackberries, and pumpkins.
49. Enjoy farm fun seasonally. Go on a hayride, get lost in a corn maze, pet animals in a petting zoo, and enjoy all of the attractions farms have to offer for visiting guests.
50. Visit a photo booth with friends. Bring your own silly props.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Yoli Rammazina