We have to listen to the child we once were, the child who still exists inside us. That child understands magic moments. – Paulo Coelho
It’s 8:30 a.m. on Friday morning, a time that would normally find me sitting at my desk or sitting in a meeting or, even worse, still sitting in traffic. But today, this early morning hour finds me doing something different: although I am sitting, I’m on my living room floor, next to my daughter, Zoey, and there are crayons to the left of us, Legos to the right, and there we are, stuck in the middle of fun.
Parent-Teacher conferences are in full-swing at Zoey’s school, so she’s off for the day. And after scrambling earlier in the week to try to find a babysitter for her and then realizing I had a vacation day I could use, I am too.
This unexpected three-day weekend has Zoey so excited she can barely contain herself.
While I had been looking forward to maybe sleeping in, Zoey bounded into my room a few hours earlier, eager to start our day together. Though I was awake when she did this, I kept my eyes closed, wondering if she might just climb in bed with me and go back to sleep. After all, it was only seven minutes past six—a time that is, in my book, way too early to be up on vacation day.
“Mommy,” Zoey whispered. I felt her face just inches from mine, and I could tell she was studying it to see if I was awake yet. “Mommy? Mommy?”
It seemed my best attempts to get a few extra minutes of slumber weren’t going to work. I cracked an eye open, and just like I thought, there her face was, so close my eyelashes almost grazed her cheek.
“You do remember what today is, right?” I croaked. “No school. No work. A day off. Remember?”
Zoey stepped back and threw her arms out to her sides. “Of course!” she squealed.
“Then what on earth are you doing up at this hour?” I questioned her again.
“I couldn’t sleep. I’m too excited. We get a whole extra day! What are we going to do this weekend?”
The words tumbled out of her mouth so fast, I sat up, knowing I needed to give up. Sleep can come another day, I thought to myself.
“I want to do whatever you want to do, Zoey,” I said as I stretched. “So what do you want to do this weekend?”
“I want to play and sing and color and go the park and jump rope and be silly and laugh. I want to do all the fun things!”
“Oh, I get it. You want to be a kid!” I said, laughing.
Zoey jumped up and down in delight, happy I finally understood what she was saying. “Yes! And I want you to be one with me!”
I had to agree to this request, right? Because, honestly, how could I say no to that kind of boundless energy? Most of my days are spent wearing a hat that, frankly, wears me out (and not in a good way). That oh-so-hard-and-requires-so-many-responsibilities one—you know, the adult one. Three days wearing a kid-sized one sounded like a pretty good idea to me.
So with that, the decision was made: I would spend the weekend channeling my inner child, and Zoey would, well… Zoey would just get to be herself. No wonder why she liked the sound of this plan so much.
* * *
As it turns out, it was the best plan. Our weekend was full of goofy laughter and gleeful fun and happy play and all the awesome silliness Zoey wanted. And keeping my adult hat off for three days served as the perfect reminder to me that channeling your inner child isn’t just easy, it’s important: I felt lighter, happier, and more energized than I’ve felt in years.
Want to feel the same way? Here are my suggestions on how you can easily find 7 Fun Ways to Keep Your Inner Child Alive.
1) Fully Engage Yourself in the Moment
Do you remember the last time you were fully engaged in something? Like really, fully engaged? On Friday, as the two of us played with Zoey’s Legos, I completely focused on the activity. I wasn’t thinking about work, I set aside my phone, and I wasn’t trying to do a million things at once. And I have to say, for this self-proclaimed expert multi-tasker, being fully engaged in building a princess castle with those tiny, little nostalgic bricks felt pretty darn amazing.
2) Make a Wish
Remember making wishes as a kid? And how even if they didn’t come true it didn’t matter, because the simple act of hoping and believing that they might simply was enough? When a trip to the mall to return a few items on Friday made us happen upon an inside pond, I quickly pulled my wallet out. Zoey and I tossed three pennies each into the water and sent up our wishes one-by-one. When we were done, I noticed how good it felt to be hopeful for something, and I made a mental note to do this more.
3) Spark Your Curiosity
As we walked to the park on Friday afternoon, we happened across a roly poly. We stopped and watched this little creature for a good ten minutes, reveling in all of its tiny legs and wondering how it curled up so easily into that perfect little circle. We wondered how something so small could stay safe in such a big world. And together, as we walked while Zoey cupped our new friend in her hand, she asked if it was an insect. Since I didn’t have my phone with me, I couldn’t Google the answer, so instead we wondered about it until we got home later when we could look it up. Waiting for the answer sparked our curiosity, and we finally decided that R.P.—as Zoey so fondly called him—decided he was an insect. (As it turned out, we were wrong, but who cares? It felt good to be curious.)
4) Go to a Playground
What is it about a playground that makes it so easy to channel your inner child? One word: Nostalgia. Once we got to the park, we jumped rope, slid down the slides, swung on the swings, and played hopscotch. We crossed the monkey bars, traversed the wobbly—and still scary to me—swaying bridges, and spun on things that I surely had no business being on. By the time we left, I was dizzy, my lungs were burning, and I was sufficiently tired, but it was a good tired, which as you may know, is the best kind of tired of all.
5) Delight in the Little Things
Saturday afternoon meant a trip to the hair salon: The styling pros washed our hair, massaged our heads, and even offered us warm compresses for our eyes. As they cut, dried, and styled, we felt pampered—and we enjoyed every single minute of it. Afterwards, Zoey kept swishing her hair back and forth, saying how fun it felt on her neck. After watching her do this for an hour or so, I decided to try it myself. And I had to admit, the cool swish, swish sound it made was such a happy, unexpected little thing, it almost made me giddy—the kind of giddy I felt as a kid.
6) Be Silly
I often care a little bit too much about what people think of me, but most of the time, my desire to do so fades when I’m with Zoey. So when Saturday evening found us in the Halloween costume aisle at Target, we tried a few on. Zoey put on a hot dog, and I put on a different one. I think people were staring at us, but I’m not entirely sure: I had a hard time seeing out of that unicorn head. Let’s just say hilarity ensued.
7) Laugh, Laugh, and Then Laugh Some More
This one speaks for itself: no one has ever said laughter is a bad thing. Ever. And if they did, well, they were obviously not laughing enough. In fact, what they usually say is this: laughter is the best medicine. I’d happily take a dose of laughter with Zoey every day of the week.
* * *
It’s 8 a.m. on Monday, and Zoey and I are standing in the hall outside her classroom. We’ve begrudgingly accepted the fact that we have to go back to our standard weekly routine. But as I kneel down and give her a hug and kiss goodbye, I have an idea.
“Hey, pea,” I say. “It’s supposed to be beautiful out this afternoon. What do you say we go to the park after school? We can take our jump ropes.”
Zoey leans in to give me another hug, and as she does, I feel her head nod against my neck. She steps back and holds her hand up.
“Pinky promise?” she grins.
I wrap my pinky around hers.
“Pinky promise,” I agree.
I stand up as Zoey’s best friend walks up to her. They grab hands and wave me away with their free ones as they head into class together.
I wave back and then make my way out of the front doors of the school. As I walk down the steps, I think about how I wish I could just stay in that first grade classroom with Zoey instead of sitting behind a desk all day. I can practically hear my inner child crying out that she doesn’t want to be silenced just yet. I step onto the sidewalk and head to my car, hoping that today’s traffic is really bad so I can sing to the radio just a little longer. So that my kid hat can stay on just a little bit longer.
The thought stops me in my tracks, and in true childlike—and surely Zoey-approved—fashion, I tilt my head back and laugh. Because it seems a long weekend of channeling my inner child really has done amazing things for me:
Never once have I ever wished for more traffic.
* * *
Okay, alright, I know what you’re thinking:
How do I find the time to do this?
Believe me, I know the struggle. I’m a single mom with a full-time job and a myriad of other demands so I’m acutely aware of how hard it is to make time to take off your adult hat. My vacation day created the perfect opportunity, but I didn’t need that whole day or even the whole weekend that followed. Even just an hour of doing this will make a difference, or even just a few minutes. So make the time and create the opportunities.
It’ll be worth it. Pinky promise.
* * *
Let me know: What’s your favorite way to channel your inner child?
Just joining me on my journey? Catch up on the Everyday Nostalgia series here.
At The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.