On a recent trip to Boston, my husband asked me, “Do you think going to the aquarium as an adult would be as fun as I remember it? Or is going to ruin it?” The undeniable answer: No matter how old you are, aquariums are still cool. And I’m pretty sure we weren’t the only childless adults there looking to revisit the childhood magic of discovery and exploration. Petting stingrays and watching penguins slide on their bellies was still as exciting as it was when I was a kid. I walked out of the New England Aquarium in awe of this massive, beautiful world we live in and all its incredible underwater creatures, and encouraged by the fact that some things don’t lost their shine, even when you’re a grown up.
That experience was a much-needed reminder to let my inner kid out once in a while. Whether or not you have children in your daily life, revisiting a favorite children’s book, movie, or activity (like going to an aquarium or zoo) can be an invigorating reminder to slow down and enjoy life once in a while. Sure, bills still need to be paid, and that laundry’s not going to do itself, but it’s ok to spend a little time playing a game, watching an animated movie, or coloring (in case you haven’t noticed, there are a TON of incredible adult coloring books out there these days! Johanna Basford designs some of my favorites.). And if you do spend time with kids on a regular basis, join in the fun and make sure they get time to just be kids (did you know a group of parent advocates in Spain recently launched a homework strike to encourage kids to have more free time?).
At the end of a particularly stressful recent day, I advocated we watch not any of the long list of documentaries on our Netflix queue or a celebrated new drama, but one of my childhood favorites: Matilda (also one of my favorite childhood books!). And it was every bit as magical and uplifting as I remember the story being.
When grown-up life gets tough, sometimes revisiting the uplifting messages of favorite childhood books or movies can bring you back to a time when things were a little simpler and help you (re)discover your imagination and important messages, like valuing friendship, celebrating our differences, and believing in yourself. On a recent rare afternoon with a little time to myself and no one else in the house, I watched the new movie version of another favorite childhood classic, Le Petit Prince. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. In the film version of this whimsical tale, it takes a fun-loving old man to teach a young girl to not grow up too fast. For an hour and a half, I was a child again, engrossed in the movie’s message that being a kid is worthwhile, no matter what your age (The movie is also a good reminder for ambitious parents to not over-schedule every second of your child’s life!).
This busy holiday season, in between checking off all of your To-Do’s, make some time to have fun and be a kid. Family time can be the perfect excuse! (CLiF’s Executive Director, Duncan McDougall, pictured above reading with students at the Folsom School, never forgets to let his inner kid play!)
So, whether you have kids or are just looking for some good feels in a stressful, busy, challenging time, consider this your permission to take some time to be a kid, no matter how old you are.