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4 Childhood Activities You Should Never Give Up

Acting like a kid could make you happier, healthier, and smarter.

by
Hannah Sternberg

Bio

June 6, 2013 - 11:00 am
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I still treasure the memory of the day when my friends and I were walking home through the park at the end of a long afternoon of educational play (wandering museums, visiting landmarks) and one of them started a game of Red Rover and we all ditched our bags to join in.

I was twenty-three at the time.

Growing up isn’t just inevitable — it is a good thing. Growing up, when done properly, hopefully results in being wiser, less selfish, and potentially taller, which is helpful for reaching things. But while there is a time for setting aside your childish things, there are a few childhood activities that grown-ups could stand to gain a lot from reintroducing into their lives.

1. Random, Unannounced Racing

Remember when you were all walking along to some destination and one person broke out into a sprint, the universal signal for everyone else to start running to catch or overtake him? Have you stopped doing that because you’ll ruin your shoes, or you’re just plain scared of appearing undignified? Whenever you’re scared to do something fun, ask yourself: whom exactly are you trying to impress?

When you grow up, something weird happens to your view of physical activity: instead of being a possibility in all situations, exercise becomes something you confine to the gym or running club or organized sports, and when you’re not at one of those, you’re supposed to sedately float along through your work and social life. At your next gathering, challenge yourself: what could you do with all your friends besides just sit or stand around?

2. Hide and Go Seek

You can play this creatively as a grown-up. Meeting a friend at a store or museum? Play a game of finding each other. Send each other clues via picture messages. Start a game with a group of friends — make it a date, in a local park.

It’s creative, playful, and relatively non-competitive. Playing hide and go seek might not just provide a little exercise — it could also sharpen your imagination as you seek more interesting and inventive places to hide. And it’ll certainly give you and your friends something to talk about later, besides their least favorite coworkers or how expensive gas is.

Just don’t take it to Portlandia levels, okay?

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3. Arts and Crafts Projects

You can buy pretty much any physical item you want or need, but having a creative hobby is a fun outlet. Knitting, or refurbishing furniture, or drawing, or whatever strikes your fancy — when you’re a kid, you don’t feel like you have to be “good at it” to justify spending your time on art or craft projects. Don’t put off drawing or another artistic outlet because you feel like, as an adult, it’s only worthwhile spending your time on those pursuits if you’re very, very good at them and can somehow win accolades or put them on display or turn it into a career. You’re not being graded, and no one even has to see your creations if you don’t want them to. So don’t be that person with a dusty art kit in the corner who says, “I used to draw all the time in high school — I wish I did now.”

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4. Building Pillow Forts

You own your stuff. It doesn’t own you. Is your couch telling you you can’t set its cushions up as walls and drape them as a blanket? Have I just not been listening carefully enough?

Besides being fun, here’s a grown-up reason for building pillow forts: because you can. Because if you’ve ever felt trapped by your surroundings, or stuck in a rut, or just bored, you can take control of your situation (and your furniture) and do something completely different and unconventional with it. And then you realize: you’re free. You just have to stop listening to your furniture and start listening to possibility.

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I don’t have a boatload of statistics to prove, definitively, that these activities will indeed make you “happier, healthier, and smarter.” But I do have common sense and a bit of creative thinking:

Doctors are now recommending that people work out in short bursts throughout the day, rather than saving it all for one concentrated hour of exercise. What better way to do this than to play like a child?

Countless productivity studies have shown that people work more efficiently and focus better when they have moments of rest or non-work recreation throughout the day. You know who’s good at daytime moments of rest and non-work recreation? Kids.

There’s your healthier and smarter. As for happier? You’ll just have to try it to find out.

Hannah Sternberg's first novel, Queens of All the Earth, is available on Amazon, BN.com, and bookstores near you.

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Top Rated Comments   
GAMES! My family, all generations, plays games. One of our favorite holiday activities after the formal dinner is cleared away and cleaned up is to load out a buffet table with grazing food and sit down to play games until the wee hours of the morning. At first it's with the kids, so it's easier, younger games the kids can play. After they go to bed, it's more card games. My grandparents had a special fondness for Call Your Partner Rook before they passed away.

In the summers, it's yard games like croquet and bocce ball and cornhole, and we're liable to break into teams and make it into an afternoon long tournament.

My family is very close-knit with very little generation gap to speak of, and I credit our fondness for games. And if you need any other incentive, you can also consider that they help you with your reading, math and hand-eye skills depending on what you're playing.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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Possibly the author has more free time than I. If I could spend even a portion of my free time painting, I would be in Heaven. But after working 50-60 hours per week to earn a decent living, all I want to do is rest up for the next round. Not that any rest can be found while not earning a living, chores don't you know.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I must have had a deprived childhood. I have no idea of what ''Red Rover'' is.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes you have lived a deprived life. One of the many games banned at schools now because they are afraid the little darlings might get hurt and sue the schools. I always saw Red Rover as an allegory for life. They call you over, and then it's up to you to break through the constraints of society to reach your goals. This is also a reason why it's been banned. The government does not want anyone trying to excel and break on through in order to attain their objectives. They want compliant little Obamabots.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
GAMES! My family, all generations, plays games. One of our favorite holiday activities after the formal dinner is cleared away and cleaned up is to load out a buffet table with grazing food and sit down to play games until the wee hours of the morning. At first it's with the kids, so it's easier, younger games the kids can play. After they go to bed, it's more card games. My grandparents had a special fondness for Call Your Partner Rook before they passed away.

In the summers, it's yard games like croquet and bocce ball and cornhole, and we're liable to break into teams and make it into an afternoon long tournament.

My family is very close-knit with very little generation gap to speak of, and I credit our fondness for games. And if you need any other incentive, you can also consider that they help you with your reading, math and hand-eye skills depending on what you're playing.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Kudos to you and your family for keeping up the game playing. I can relate very well to that. For years I have noticed that, whether it is a family reunion or some other get together of random family and friends, whenever the kids come they always look forward to 'playing' what ever it was we played the time before. It is a family memory they hold onto more than any other and I firmly believe that they they will hold that memory for the rest of their lives.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yup.

Whether kids are the best excuse for play or vice versa, who cares? I quit regularly working out for years because it was such a gas playing with my sons. Working out was always "my time," but in short order I discovered that it wasn't fun or good for me IF it was planning blocks of time that took hours away per week with our boys. So, boys being boys...
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Random, Unannounced Racing: At times I give this up (for short periods) to keep from wearing out the tires.

Hide and Go Seek: Still good at avoiding speed-traps, key tip that most (at least in my neck of the woods) forget, check your rear view mirror often!

Arts and Crafts Projects: Currently considering an engine upgrade, high performance brakes, and some suspension mods. Maybe minor body work and paint.

Building Pillow Forts: Uhhhhh... ohkay, not sure how to apply that one...

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You could be my son. :D
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
So basically you advise that we act like Hipsters and all have macaroni art shows at the local coffee shop.

No thanks.

But if you suggest that we should all take our size 12s and shove them up the rear of those plaid short wearing, pork-pie hat sporting, never gonna grow ups. Well then, I'm all with you.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And skipping stones at the lake. And if there was no lake, throwing stones directly at the nearest squirrel.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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