“Are you afraid of inner child inside of you, underneath your skin or even under your bed? Don’t be. It’s not there to hunt or scare you. It’s there to show you, the real you. Laughing, playing and making life joyful” – Sand sculpture by Ludo Roders.
Watching our youngest today in the tub playing with water, I realised how important play is for all of us. There was a time when we could feel the magic of the world around us, electric in the air. Our senses alive and emotions bubbling through every part of our essence. What happened?
We all have that inner child hiding in there somewhere. I wonder what age it was when I stopped finding jumping in muddy puddles fun? I remember my parents telling me a few times ‘don’t do that in those shoes’ ‘not today we are going to be late’ it probably just happened enough times for me to casually think it might not be worth it a few more times…then before I knew it I had forgotten that how to get back to that feeling.
The shiny glimmer of the surface rippling with promise and the reflection of a broken sky. Maybe a curled leaf or two limp and floating just above the thick layer of smooth clay like mud a calm picture ready to be burst open by the thump of my bright wellies (with obligatory world explorer frog eyes on the end of the toes). I loved it!
How did I forget?
I watch the faces of children jumping up and down furiously in a puddle, water splashing everywhere, with the glint of wild abandon in their eye. It makes me smile and it makes me secretly envious.
These small people we try to teach our supposed wisdom to have got it so right already. Children know how to explore their senses, follow their curiosity and find such raw pleasure in the simplest of moments. Their instincts are alive and they move through their days as if they are fluid and fully connected to their world.
I am so thankful to my eldest for very clearly showing me when she was born that I knew nothing about raising children. I had been a qualified nanny and childcare worker. However the books I had learned and followed were not written for her. The advice from well meaning relatives did not apply to her.
Since we started on this journey together she has taught me more about the world then I could ever teach her. I want to embrace that inner child in me that must be hiding under those scary layers of duvet cover somewhere, to dig out those wellies and dust them off for everyday use.
- Den Building – Make a cosy den with bedsheets and a clothes horse to enjoy with pillows and hot chocolate. Connect with the enjoyment of lounging about, relaxing with no guilty strings attached.
- Dress Yourself Like a Pro – Pull out the most cheerful and colourful clothes you own to wear. Focus on what makes you feel good, an outfit that can’t help but make you smile, with all your best finery. The main colours for grown up clothing are black, navy, grey and white, look down any pavement and you will notice everyone sticks to the same hues. Colour shapes how we feel and how other people interact with us. Experiment, create & have fun noticing if people respond to you in different ways.
- Play with Water – Try wild swimming, dip your toes in a stream, or sink under the bubbles in the bath. Flow through the water, close your eyes, breath and see if you can really feel what the water feels like. What would a child feel, undistracted by the pressures of modern life?
- Dance and sing as if no-one is watching – It’s a cliché I know, but a truly important one. I am not a good singer or a natural dancer, but it makes me feel alive. Moving your body and making lots of noise clears out a load of junk.
- Listen to the Natural Rythms of Your Body – Sleep when you are tired, or at the very least give yourself permission to rest without feeling guilty. Eat only when you feel hungry, eat what feels good for your body, not what the latest diet craze suggests. Children are naturally so good at this, well meaning parents often move us away from the natural daily drives and needs of our own bodies and towards following a more routine based way of living to the extent that we become experts at ignoring our physical needs as they arise. See if you can reconnect with what your body is telling you as it happens and give yourself permission to respond.
- Share Smiles as if They Are Free – Simple but effective, children do this all the time without a second thought, adults not so much. How many genuinely warm smiles do you exchange with strangers each day? Next time you are walking or driving down the road take a few minutes out of your day to give every person you pass eye contact and a proper smile without looking away, try and see how many smiles you get back. It’s amazing when you get one!
- Step Out in the Rain – Bad weather does not often bother children but adults dash for cover at the first hint of rain as if rain will actually melt them. Running around in the rain, snow or wind can be so exhilarating. Even half an hour outside after a stressful day can reset our thoughts and emotions, even in Winter. Jumping in muddy puddles even more so!
- Be Direct with People – More time spent being honest with people about what we think, want and feel is always going to make us feel more authentic and in tune with what is happening around us. Children see no shame in being themselves, let’s share more of who we really are with the people we spend time with.
- Buy a Bubble Machine – Umm just because it is so much fun! Jump around popping all the bubbles before they hit the ground. Throw yourself down a massive sand dune, get dizzy on a roundabout, ride in a go kart or bounce on a trampoline really high. Have fun doing something for the simple joy of having fun, make no apologies. Life is too short.
Watching children negotiate and learn from the world around them makes me realise I have forgotten it all, I have forgotten who I am, what I need most and how to get my needs met! The more I can connect with my inner child the more I can free myself from the routine and see the magic in the world.