Summer can be a nostalgic time. The days are long, the weather is finally nice and warm, and best of all, school is out. There’s nothing like summertime when you’re a kid – the days last forever and you never seem to run out of things to explore. As adults, though, we’ve kind of lost the magic of summer. Especially after a year spent indoors and isolated, it might feel like summer is just another season to get through. This year more than ever, though, we deserve to make time for fun and childlike joy. We’ve been through a lot this past year. We have a lot of healing to do both collectively and individually and working with your inner child can be a healing practice. Summer tends to be a time of fewer responsibilities, so it can be the perfect opportunity to spend some time on yourself.
You may have heard of inner child work before – it’s becoming a popular topic on platforms like Instagram. Your inner child is what it sounds like – the childlike version of yourself in your mind’s eye. Your inner child can be you at any age throughout your life. Learning how to get in touch with this younger version of yourself can bring insight to what you’re dealing with now and how to connect with what you want.
Obviously, there are many great things about growing up. You learn how to be independent, you forge new relationships, and you often become more at ease with yourself. However, there are some things that kids are great at that we tend to lose as we get older. Kids are great at being present in the moment. Of course they have worries and fears too, but children are able to absorb themselves in whatever they’re doing in a way that many adults find hard. Focusing on what you’re doing in the present is the foundation of mindfulness, which can be an important part of mental health and healing.
Kids also take time to play, which is something we do less of as we age. Even though joy and imagination are not limited to a certain age group, the responsibilities of adult life often get tin the way of our time to play. The way we like to play often changes as we grow, too. Reminding yourself of what you liked to do as a child can be a powerful way to reconnect with your own interests. It’s also really fun, and we could all use more fun in our lives.
If you’re looking for ways to connect with your inner child this summer, here are some ideas:
Play a kid’s game
What is a game you loved as a kid? Were you big on hide and seek, or were you more of an UNO kid? Spend some time thinking about the games you liked to play as a child and pick one to try now. Pay attention to how you feel while you’re playing.
Attend an adult summer camp
Nothing says summer like camp. Even if you never attended as a child, summer camp is a cliche for a reason. The idea of spending time with a bunch of people your age in the woods with lots of activities to do and no responsibilities is powerful. How can you recreate a camp experience for yourself? Can you tie dye shirts? Play capture the flag? Make friendship bracelets? Build a campfire and roast marshmallows? Even if you just camp out in the yard of someone you know, you can make a fun, memorable experience for yourself.
Have arts + crafts time
Remember the good old days of arts and crafts time? Many of us grow up doing something creative on a regular basis, even if it’s just through art class. Crafting and being creative can be a way to practice mindfulness, and it’s fun. When was the last time you stretched your creative muscles and made something just for the sake of making it?
Do something you’ve never tried before
Childhood is filled with so many firsts. What’s something little you wants to try? See if there’s something you can do for the first time. Notice what you feel when you do something new – are you excited? Nervous? Giddy? Notice the feelings and sensations that come up and note how they feel to you.
Spend time outside
Did you spend a lot of time outside as a kid in the summer? Try to make time to get into nature in any form this summer. Are there parks nearby? Can you go on a hike? Are there outdoor activities in your area? Spending time outdoors is a great way to stay in the present – there’s a lot to look at and experience so you don’t want to spend the whole time with your face in a screen. It can be a great way to disconnect from your real life for a bit.
Spend time in the water
Did you like to spend time in or near water as a child? Splashing around and swimming under the sun can be a blissful experience. Whatever kind of water you like – pool, tub, lake, stream, ocean – see if you can play around in some water this summer.
Do nothing at all
Maybe the most tantalizing thing about being a kid is having no responsibilities. Set aside a day where the plan is to do nothing. Give yourself permission to do whatever comes to mind, and when feelings of guilt come up for doing nothing, remind yourself that you don’t have to listen to them.
Have a playdate with a friend
When was the last time you spent quality playful time with a friend? Lots of times, as adults, we spend time with people based around an activity, like going out to eat or seeing a show. What if the activity we made time for nwo was play? Invite a friend over with no agenda other than to play. You can bust out games, make some art, build a fort, play dress up, go swimming – anything that makes you feel free and like a kid.
If you’re looking for support as you connect with your inner child this summer, our therapists can help. Having the guidance and support of a therapist can be a huge source of safety, especially when digging into hard or uncomfortable topics.
Click here for more information on trauma therapy.
About The Author
Noreen Iqbal, LCSW is the owner and director of the Olive Branch Therapy Group. Noreen works with adolescents, young adults, adults, families and couples. If you are interested in working with Noreen, contact us via email, phone or chat on our website.