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9 Ways to Keep your Inner Child Happy

Sometimes being an adult can really suck – dishes, laundry, bills, work, responsibilities – they all pile up and keep coming like a runaway train.  We can’t always take a vacation day (or week or, let’s be honest, a month) when we get stressed out so it’s always a good idea to have some fun activities around to bring out your inner child. 

This list might seem similar to my Self-Care list from a few weeks ago but that’s because my stress reduction techniques and my self-care techniques are one in the same, but these are more things you can do to be silly, remember that play is OK, and keep things light and easy when life gets dark and hard.

1. Playtime

Whatever this means to you – for me, it’s singing along with my favorite pop stars but for you, it might be painting, adult coloring books, a musical instrument (just for fun – not practice or drills), or sculpting with clay.  Whatever play or art or messy crafts mean to you, that’s what I’m talking about here.  Get dirty, have fun, try something new, do something for fun not because you need to do it – do it because you just want to.

2. Markers

I love using bright colored pens or markers in my planner – it helps make my boring old stodgy to-do list brighter, more fun, gives me some instant happy feels, and can even help me color-code my tasks to keep from feeling completely overwhelmed.

3. Stickers

This is also something I use in my planner or on my to-do lists to make me smile.  Yes, I have stickers that can be useful – like a laundry basket or half-boxes to keep track of a scheduled event, but what I’m talking about here are shiny sparkly stars, cute cupcakes or coffee cups – fun stickers that literally just make me happy. I was a child of the 80s so I had stickers books and traded fun ones with friends, and this reminds me of those carefree days of my childhood.

4. Laugh

You can watch funny YouTube videos (like this one), a comedy on Netflix or another binge site, or call up your best friend who always makes you laugh and ask them to tell you a funny story – you know they have one!  Just make sure you spend a few minutes each day laughing and enjoying life.

5. Nap time

Remember when you were a small child and you ran away from nap time – well, if you can, embrace that down time now.  Curl up with a good book if you can’t actually take a nap (this is me, I really have trouble falling asleep but laying down with a few chapters does the same thing). Basically, make sure you get your rest in – kids get cranky without nap time and adults get cranky when tired too.

6. Snack time

Another way kids get cranky is when they don’t have food – adults too (I mean, have you heard the phrase hangry – hungry and angry – there’s a reason) so make sure you keep good food on hand for easy snacking.  Now, this is another way to add in some fun – what did you like to snack on when you were little?  Ants on a log? Apple slices with PB? Teddy Grahams? Animal Crackers?  Pick up something fun to snack on and actually take the time to eat, relax, and breathe – even if just for 2 minutes.

7. Pick Your Battles

I’m a parent of a 6-year-old boy, so I know all too well when to pick my battles and when to let the little guy have his say.  It’s important for your inner child as well – pick your battles, if you’re trying to do something that you think is fun, but is more educational and your inner child is screaming for finger paints and a nap – then let the little one win and go do the fun, not so educational thing every once in awhile.  Trust me…it will be fine!

8. Time Out

Nap times are long times of rest, but timeouts are when you are close to meltdown mode – when one more thing is going to totally make you lose it – this is when you give yourself a timeout.  Even 5 minutes of deep breathing, meditation, a YouTube video, or making a really nice cup of tea can help fill your cup back up and calm the crazy.  The world will not fall apart if you take five minutes, I promise.

9. Reward charts

Are you trying to implement a new habit?  Drinking water or eating so many veggies a day?  Then use a reward chart – make it bright and colorful, use stickers – and give yourself a real reward.  You can make it any length of time you’d like – did you drink 8 glasses of water all week?  Give yourself a check and a treat.  Did you eat a green vegetable for one whole month?  Awesome, give yourself another treat!

How do you keep your inner child happy?  Do you have other ideas I haven’t listed here that work really well to keep you smiling, keep your joy shining, and pretend (even for just a few minutes) that you’re 12 again?  What YouTube channels make you smile? What movies or TV shows have you been binging on?  Need a list of my favorite sitcoms – go here!  If we can remember the innocence and joy of childhood even as an adult, I believe we can be happier, healthier, and have more fun!  Enjoy!

Published inHealth&Wellness


  1. HI Jennifer! I totally agree with this article. Life gets too serious most of the time and we should find time hanging out with the kid in all of us. You gave some great tips on how to tackle this. I personally watch a movie or series on Netflix. Laughter is so good for the soul and we should find time to laugh more in the midst of being an adult. I also love nap times. That’s my relaxing time. I’m not into the adult coloring books, but I’ll buy me a kid coloring and enjoy that. It tried clicking on the link to see your self-care list, but it took me to an error 404 page.

    • Jennifer Gregson Jennifer Gregson

      Thank you so much for reading. I’m sorry about the broken link. I switched blogging platforms a while back and my internal links got all messed up. I’ve fixed the one in the article – but here is the link for you, just in case:

      Netflix is my jam! I’m a huge TV nerd…especially sitcoms, especially Friends! 🙂

      • Thanks for the article link. I’m reading it now. I do have a question for you. What is your biggest challenge writing for YA? My daughter is a YA now (college kid) and she’s a huge book reader. Any books you recommend she read (including your own)?

        • Jennifer Gregson Jennifer Gregson

          My biggest challenge is two-fold – making sure my characters seem real – meaning that their issues and their problems seem relatable but also that they sound like real teenagers/young adults. My biggest issue with writing, in general, is making my conflict strong enough – making my characters’ main WANT/GOAL big enough to sustain a whole novel. My favorite YA books right now are anything by John Green, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, and the Cinder books by Marissa Meyer. I would recommend mine, but it’s not out yet (soon!) but she could join my author’s reader group/newsletter and get my free short story anthology, The Hit Parde, three YA coming of age stories about loss, love, and life!

  2. Vicki Ploscowe Vicki Ploscowe

    I’m adding your blogs to my to-do list. They bring me closer to knowing you from inside out.
    I’ve always kept an ongoing list of things I need to remember to do. If I rely on my memory, well, never will happen. Keeping a list reduces my stress by just knowing what I have to do ASAP or sometime soon.
    I’m hoping to remember some of your wonderful suggestions for snacks and easy exercises. I followed your instructions, and stopped reading, and stood up and stretched. AAH!!
    You’re on a great road to happiness!!! Wow… All the best!!! Glad I know where you live so I can get hugs and kisses from the real “YOU!!!”

    • Jennifer Gregson Jennifer Gregson

      Thank you so much Vicki! I have to write everything down too – in fact, I use an app on my computer/phone and my paper planner to organize my days.

  3. Vicki Ploscowe Vicki Ploscowe

    You are my organization hero!!! Just read short story 3. Another happy ending, maybe!!

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