Five Ways to “Adult” Like the Child Inside

Adult life is not exactly a picnic. Sure, there are plenty of adventures and successes, but that feeling of carefreedom is missing, and sometimes, the reality of this is… sad. These days, yearning for that kind of emotional vacation sends me back to childhood. Not to the years of breakouts, break-ups, and breakdowns, but farther back…to digging moats in the backyard after a hard rain, to playing so hard I fell asleep face-first in a bed of toys, to dressing up in Mom’s old clothes while spinning Three Dog Night on a miniature record player. I’d like to go backward, not to rewind or redo, but to recharge. Hop into my time machine…to five easy ways we can “adult” like a child.

1.) Dance Parties. My daughter loves to sing. It’s invigorating to watch her belt out the lyrics to TOP’s “Tear in my Heart” or Queen’s “Bicycle” because she sings like her lungs are going to explode. She sings like it’s the only thing that matters. She sings like we all used to do, and I miss that. I miss donning fake jewels and fancy dresses in my cousin’s basement as we channeled Madonna for a “Material Girl” showdown. So the next time you see that weird girl in the car lane next to you (okay, so it’s me), blasting “Sweet Child of Mine”, air-guitaring Slash’s finest, Axel-dancing through the final chords…join in. Let’s all sing like we’re four again.

2.) Dress-up Days. Think giant purple clown hair. Gorilla feet. Leisure suits and poodle skirts. As adults, we aren’t invited to costume days that often. As kids, dress-up themes were plastered all over the school calendar–each one an opportunity to be someone else, if even for just a moment. But we can still enjoy the magic of pretend by organizing our own corporate theme days, Ugly Sweater Christmas parties, Dress-Like-Your-Favorite-Deciduous (Arbor Day anyone?), or at the very least, actually participating when we get that next crazy costume invite. See you at the Hogwarts Convention.

3.) PlaygroundsSkinned knees, run-amok hair, the smell of sweaty metal on the palms of our hands…playgrounds are magical. Barreling down a blue, plastic slide to bury your feet in just-hot-enough sand between your toes is a perfect way to reinvigorate that child inside. Whether we’re chasing our own kids or goofing around with a pack of “grown-up” kids, the playground is still a haven. Swing on.

4.) Play-Doh. Years ago, I attended a Teacher’s Institute training that included creating neurons out of pipe cleaners…come to think of it, there may have also been singing. Yep, pretty sure there was some very folksy sort of singing… But as much as my colleagues and I joked about how “lame” the activity was…(High school teachers are the worst when it comes to being too cool for school- literally)…I miss the playfulness of that training. Playing with pipe cleaners is fun. Just like Legos and bubbles and finger painting. It’s the kind of fun we all secretly enjoy, so why not just own it?

5.) Bounce House. Remember bouncing so high your stomach jumped into your throat? That out-of-control feeling when we jump up and can’t guarantee we’ll land on our feet is exhilarating. What’s so amazing about 2016 is the availability of that feeling without actually risking your neck….welcome to the bounce house. So maybe it’s under the guise of “protecting” your kid/niece/baby brother, but once we’re inside that netted bouncy playhouse…it’s on. So rather than swipe idly at the screen of our phones as the sounds of bounce heaven ricochet around us, let’s dive in, climb the tiny-footed rope ladder, catapult down the air-filled giant slide and just bounce.

Go on…be a kid again.