All the fun of the fair – There’s no fun and it’s not fair
Would you like to have more fun? Do you not quite remember how to enjoy yourself these days? Has your life become more routine responsibility and less carefree play?
If so, you’re not alone. There’s so much advice out there on how to rediscover how to have a laugh. And one recurring tip is to ‘find your inner child’. And then, reconnect! If you believe the hype, all you have to do is remember what you used to enjoy doing as a kid and do it again.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
But it’s not always that easy, as I found out. Here’s how the Corkscrew threw me. (Not literally.)
My not very Merry-Go-Round
One of the best parts of having mental health issues is recovery. Kind of an obvious statement. If you hit a real low, emotionally and mentally, the best choice is to investigate the reasons and ultimately turn your life around. It’s an arduous process which takes time, tears, a tantrum or two, and then a lot more time. But you really do grow and benefit from what you’ve learned. You can go on to lead a far more fulfilling life, be more in tune with who you really are, what you need, what you can ‘give back’ and your personal values.
Have you ever been grateful to wake up without the headache that’s been lingering for days, and it makes you appreciate life more? Recovering from mental health issues, for me, feels like that times a hundred. Most days.
On the Ghost (of myself) Train
Whilst searching for a path towards healing, I read many articles, grasped at a variety of straws (some made of paper which, although better for our planet went a bit soggy, while others, the more traditional but highly unethical plastic variety, just didn’t feel ‘right’) and tried different ways of feeling better. More than once I read the advice that to find a place of joy we need to tap into our inner child and rediscover creative play.
I have taken this advice. I always loved writing, so here I am, with my blog. As a child I enjoyed taking photos… the pics on my blog are almost all my own (bar the first couple of articles). The advice works and I feel good.
The most potent muse of all is our own inner child.Stephen Nachmanovitch
How do you remember how far you’ve come?
It’s not always easy to remember how far you’ve come (how low did you go?), because once you’re feeling hunkey dorey again, it can be difficult to recall the bad times. We are all in the ‘now’ (and that’s a good thing) and it’s sometimes tricky to put yourself in your shoes from last week never mind, say, your slippers from three years ago, when your head was in a totally different space. Time’s funny like that. So how do you mark your recovery? How do you remember that you feel better?
By revisiting time markers. Or landmarks.
Sometimes these places and occasions are easy to spot in advance. Annual events such as Christmas are the simplest time markers to notice any progress in your emotional health, as is meeting up with certain friends you might see only occasionally. When you revisit a place or a situation, you can gauge a comparison.
But every now and again, there might be a surprise.
All kids love fun fairs, right?
I had that surprise this summer when I went to the fair. It felt amazing and not only because we were giving the kids a fantastic day out, but also because I felt so differently to how I’d felt last time. A couple of years beforehand, at this same fair, I was a nervous wreck.
But this time, I felt sane, happy. What a buzz!
So delighted was I to be able to join in with the kids and feel fun rather than fear whilst walking around the amusement park that I got a bit carried away. What an excellent opportunity to let my inner child have some fun!
So when my internal voice asked me to proceed with caution, did I listen?
No way! We were going to go crazy here.
Instead, I told her to be quiet and stepped into The Hurricane. After all, every child loves fairground rides, right?
Wrong. As I strapped myself in, my internal protestations grew louder.
vom fun of the fair
I endured the ride because once you’re strapped in, you’ve no choice. But I felt my skin turn grey as my head spun. My body screamed. My voice groaned in horror.
‘Just… breathe.’ I tried to comfort myself.
At the end of the ride, stomach churning, I stumbled off to find a drop of water and a seat. A couple of hours later, I still felt as though the ground was moving.
In my excitement, I had forgotten that even in my youth I didn’t like roundabouts in little parks, never mind Helter Skelters.
I got carried away at the fair. That surge of positive emotion (‘Look how far you’ve come, Eilidh!’) made me forget that ‘little Eilidh’ never did enjoy fairground rides. Instead of listening, I told myself that children ‘should’ enjoy being hurtled around by gravity-defying roller coasters.
I forgot that every child is different.
It wasn’t the end of the world. But it was the end of me feeling great, that day. My stomach literally felt as if it was inside out. I lurched slowly around and probably looked how I felt: drunk and hungover at the same time (not pleasant at all).
Did I listen to my inner child?
Nope. I frightened her out of her wits!
Afterwards, I made a promise to myself (‘little Eilidh’?).
A promise to myself
I’m okay just watching them have fun at the fair
A couple of weeks later I found myself, again, at a funfair. This one, in Belgium. It was my daughter’s birthday celebration and she took two friends along with her.
After the initial caution exercised with selecting some easier rides, Lily and H were egged on by her dad (who never has a problem accessing his ‘inner child’) to rock on to some scarier stuff and a bit of thrill seeking. The third child, A (not counting Lily’s dad), was a bit left behind.
While A and I watched and waited, A said to me, ‘I’ve already tried that and I don’t like it. It’s not for me. If I hadn’t already tried it and I didn’t know that I don’t like it, then I would try it now. But I know I don’t enjoy it so I’m not going to do it again.’
Wow! Such clarity at a young age.
His big brother was at the fair that day too, and he spotted little A as he was clambering aboard the Wipeout. He began to take the mickey, as older siblings do, knowing just where to poke and how hard. I could see A’s self-assurance begin to waver.
I jumped in and said, ‘A, you are so right. I know just what you mean. I do not enjoy those rides either. I don’t like the feeling of being out of control. I do like thrills – like skiing, but when I have a modicum of control. You are brave, little A, to know yourself and to recognise and respect your internal voice. Stay brave!’ (Or something along those lines.)
Remember your own advice as you grow older, dearest A. You wise old little boy, you!
Who is your inner child?
There are plenty of reasons (excuses) we can find for not doing things we used to love. Now that we’re adults and all, serious grown-ups with responsibilities.
But if your life is missing a bit of fun, then why not try to inject some childhood play… Forgotten how? Here is a simple exercise for you to try to awaken your inner child once again.
An exercise to reconnect with your inner child
List as many things as you can (at least five) that you used to love doing as a child. Write them down… begin with the first things that come into your head as a stream of consciousness, and then go a bit deeper, when you start to flounder. Sit and really think.
When was the last time you did these activities? If it’s been a while, what are the reasons you haven’t given them a go lately?
Now pick one of them. Find some step you can take towards actually doing this activity. If you used to love painting but haven’t picked up a brush for 20 years, go and buy some paints and plan in a couple of hours of painting (put it in your diary so you have made the commitment). Even a small step counts as long as you plan in the next one.
But a word of caution: When you do the exercise, dig deep. Remember what you really loved as a child, not what children are supposed to enjoy. Not, for example, what your parents might have pushed you into doing. Not what your friends liked to do. Remember the activities that used to light you up on fire.
You might need to think a bit harder, sit with yourself and your memories a little longer.
You could use triggers to help take you back to that special space of childhood? A perfume? A particular song or a tune. You could even watch an old cartoon to take you back (‘The Magic Roundabout’ perhaps?).
The Tunnel of (inner child) Love
When I was a girl, I used to love listening to the Top 40 on a Sunday. I’d record it on my cassette player and then edit it and invent radio shows with my pals. I used to learn the lyrics (from record sleeves – none of this Internet nonsense back then!) and sing my heart out.
I still love singing. And now it’s so much easier to learn the lyrics (with this Internet nonsense at our fingertips!). Does anyone else remember this cracker?
Here are four more activities you could try to take the drudge out of your daily.
What are your favourite things from childhood that you still enjoy doing? I’d love to hear in the comments.
Definitely working on reconnecting with my hellacious inner child! But in a more positive way and that’s easy to do with Jaxon around! This was a great and valuable post that most of us need reminding of. Relax, breathe, and try to enjoy this life to the best of our abilities. Well done!👍🏾🥰
You’re a star, Mya. Thank you! 🥰 I’m having a day without the children… and I have to say it’s quiet around here… Music calls! 😍
You are soooo right! We always think about what we loved but was it really what WE loved as kids! I too am not a fan of anything that’s spins me around! Not good 🤢 I loved watching cartoons Tom and Jerry in particular. Colouring in was another and I do have a few books now to colour which I do occasionally. I used to make friendship bracelets and that was always so relaxing and fun! Climbing trees was another! Thank you for sparking my brain and giving me some ideas for being the little (not sure I ever was) Emma again xx 😀🤩
Hey Emma, what a lovely comment. So nice to read about what you used to love… I’ve always liked the idea of friendship bracelets but have never given them a try. So Little Emma has reminded Emma who has sparked Little Eilidh to nudge Eilidh to try something new 😄 (or something along those lines 😉). And yes, I watch my kids climbing trees these days but never join them. Why not?! Another change is a coming ☺ Xxx
Haha I think I’m still getting my head round that!! 😂 Emma and little Emma want to say have fun and enjoy being a child to Eilidh and little Eilidh! Xx🤩
I loved reading this post! Because it was humorous and your entire post was insightful.
I hate roundabouts and things that toss and turn. I always hated them but I think the older I get the more so (actually kids vestibular systems have the balance to be okay with them which changes as one gets older. Don’t ask for an explanation for I can’t recall what I read about it).
The only thing I can think off hand that I used to enjoy was reading. I would sit and read all day. Maybe drawing but I don’t enjoy drawing now and I don’t think I ever, even as a kid, sat down to draw, I just thought I was good at it (which either I was or wasn’t).
What did you enjoy?
I’m so glad I’m catching up with reader and got to read your post now
Love, light and glitter
Hey Eliza, so glad to hear from you and thanks for your comment. That’s interesting about kids’ vestibular (not sure what that is but will look up!) systems changing as we (uhum!) mature. Yeah, I used to love reading too. I remember reading The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, Stig of the Dump and other childhood classics when I was quite young – as well as some Enid Blighton! And comics. I used to look forward to my subscription of Twinkle (?) and then Jackie – and something in between I think, and boy did I milk them! Cover to cover reading and then trying to art and craft projects. I remember now getting shiny tape round an old tennis racket to use as a jewellery holder, and using a parasol suspended from my ceiling to hold my cuddley toys… Ah, it’s all coming back!
And I did a lot of drawing and painting. I loved pogo hopping for a time! And we had a Spirograph set (remember those?).
I enjoyed taking photos and I still do now. I’ve been thinking of all this stuff for a while in the back of my mind I guess… maybe if you cogitate (?) a little longer, more things you enjoyed will come back to you.
I love your sign-off – sending some of that Love, Light and Glitter right back at you 🥰
Vestibular system is the balancing system we all have. It’s fluid in our inner ear that lets us know how balanced we are. It’s why if a person has a problem with their ears it could make them feel dizzy. The vestibular system – I’d call it the balancing system for that’s what it is about – is more sensitive with kids, so kids are going to take longer to get off balance. But yeah, google it, you’ll probably get way more coherent explanations than I can give (I’ve never studied it, so this is the layman’s unclear version).
I love taking pictures of nature. I love seeing some I’ve taken too and seeing how awesome I think they are. I’ve also always enjoyed writing.
I’ll take the glitter and sprinkle it over the weekend.
Love,light and glitter
Thanks for the explanation… You’ve made it very clear, and that’s really interesting.
Here’s to a weekend full of oh-so-photogenic nature – and plenty of glitter 🥰 (I’m planning to put some in a glass jar today – glitter, not nature – with some water, to make a meditative glitter jar… let’s see!). xx
Wow, very raw post. Thank you for being so vulnerable and showing us what we can do to be us again. I really needed to read this and appreciate it. Thank you
Thanks so much for your comment, Liana. It makes me happy that you enjoyed it. 🥰
OMG this made me laugh!! LOL. Great advice, especially for those of us who were a bit more “sensitive” as a child. I love that you suggest we look at what we loved, but not in a pre-judged way, as sometimes we do try things we loved as a kid, but somehow they are not so cool, until we realise that we loved them for some particular reason that is now missing.
I’ve also recently started playing with my camera again – we now have the digital option which is great as you can take as many shots as you like and throw out the ones that don’t make the grade. Unlike the “old” days where you had to pay to get them all processed!
Anyway, lovely post. Thank you! Made me smile and has inspired me to try a few new/old things :o)
Hey Wendy! Great to hear 🤗 That makes me very happy that you enjoyed the post – thank you!
One thing I do remember is waiting with glee for my Saturday morning comic and then reading it cover to cover – and doing any art projects that were in it. Yes, things have certainly changed as far as cameras go. Enjoy revisiting your childhood fun and games 🥰
Thanks! That reminds me, I love reading Snoopy cartoons!! I might dig those out again too!
Snoopy definitely deserves revisiting!
I’m on to it!!
I loved the swings! Eventually I got one put into the back garden.
& colouring in – so pleased there are adult colouring in books now 🙂
That’s awesome to read 🥰 I love that you have a swing in your garden now. So cool! Yeah… I’m rediscovering colouring in, although I think I prefer drawing (but I copy the drawings from colouring books, perhaps bizarrely!). Thanks a lot for reading and for your comment 🥰
Great post! I love the fair, but have had to give up the rides…a little to exciting for me!
Thanks for your comment 😊 I prefer to get my kicks through something I have a bit more control over (at least some of the time)… My ultimate thrill: Skiing. Loved it as a child. Still love it today 🥰