Living Like a Kid Again

What did you love to do as a child? A time before puberty when you felt totally free and unencumbered by adult responsibilities and commitments.  A time before you were concerned about what your friends thought of you. A time when judgement was irrelevant to your colorful world of imagination.

Most of us gave up our childhood interests and play for the adult pursuits of building a career, raising a family and “adulting.” There wasn’t enough time, or money, for hobbies. We had more important things to do. Significant things. We were out changing the world. Then we retired and it was just ourselves again without all of the distractions and trappings of work and building our lives. Similar to when we were kids. We have to learn to be at peace with ourselves again. And we have to learn what brings us deep rooted joy. Not what looks good to others. Not what we “should” do. Not what we need to do to fit in.

How to do you decide what to do with all of this newfound freedom? A good place to start is by looking back. Think back to when you were a child. What were you drawn to before you worried about what others thought? Once we get into middle school, we begin to filter what we say and do through the lens of our peers. Our interests become more about what everyone else is doing, or what is accepted and cool. So, what you liked to do prior to those years can be a more honest and raw reflection of who you are and what you truly enjoy. Taking up childhood hobbies as an adult has been one of the best things I have done in retirement.  The three that really resonate with me are being on the water, writing and riding bike.

Being on the water

Drifting.  My mind wanders with no push/pull on my time.  No β€œto do” list piling up in my brain as I let the waves gently move me towards shore.  I spent my childhood summers on an inner tube in the water at our lake house.  My siblings long abandoned the afternoon of splashing in the water, hurling off the dock and playing king of the inner tube for other pursuits.  But I lingered on that tube, daydreaming, drifting on the water until the afternoon shadows grew long and my mom called me in for dinner.

In a large family of six kids, that was my time.  It still is.  Those carefree childhood days at the lake gave way to adult responsibilities, and the charcoal black inner tube has been replaced by my bright yellow kayak.  But when I am out on the water, my heartbeat still slows to the rhythm of the waves.  I let adult concerns drift away as I am taken back to a gentler time.  


When I was in early grade school, I voluntarily entered a couple of writing contests. To my surprise, I even won one of them. Emboldened by that experience, I decided to take journalism as an elective in 9th grade. I did not get a coveted page editor spot until the page four editor quit and there was no one else to fill it. Then in high school I signed up for an elective creative writing class. My teacher clearly did not feel like I had as much talent as I did and my dream of being a journalist was squashed, along with a few bruises to my ego. In his defense, I was a little more into having fun than producing anything worthwhile.

Then life got in the way with college, marriage, raising four kids and working. For several years my writing was limited to emails, nursing chart records, reports, a few scratches in my journal and notes for my kids (before cell phones and texting). Fast forward to retirement and I decided to start this blog to feed my latent interest in writing. My teacher was probably pretty accurate on my creative writing abilities, but I don’t have to answer to him anymore and I can just enjoy the process and the interactions with wonderful readers. It has been a fun, creative retirement hobby.

Riding bike

Being the fifth child in a family of six kids, I got a lot of hand-me-downs. While I wasn’t too happy with most of them, I was thrilled when my sister outgrew her blue Schwinn bike and passed it on to me. I was constantly begging my mom to let me hop on that bike and go for a ride. “As long as you stay where I can see you” she reminded me. The problem was that our house was situated in the middle of the bay on a small lake. That meant that I could ride on the road about 300 yards to the bend in the bay, turn around and ride to the other end of the bay. Back and forth. Over and over again. As a parent, and now grandparent, I get it. At the time, it felt limiting. However, if it meant that I could ride my bike with the wind in my hair and a song on my lips, I was O.K. with it.

When I turned 15, I parked that worn bike in the depths of the garage and I traded in handlebars for car keys. But once again, life got in the way, and I did not own or ride a bike for years. As my kids slowly left the nest and I had more time on my hands, I began to think about that wonderful feeling of freedom with the wind in my hair. It was time to treat myself to a brand-new bike. The days of riding circles with the blue hand-me-down Schwinn have been replaced with a sleek black Specialized Diverge road bike. Fortunately, the sayings, “it is just like riding a bike” is true and it was easy to pick back up. Now I am free to go beyond the limits of the bay and explore the great bike trails in our area. When we travel, I usually see if the place we are staying has bikes to use or if there is a place to rent them. Riding bikes when you travel is a great way to explore the area.

Retirement is like being a kid again

A couple weeks ago I went with my DIL and seven-year-old granddaughter on a “girls’ trip.” My granddaughter was competing in a gymnastics meet about 400 miles away and my son was taking their son to a wrestling tournament that same weekend. So, my DIL graciously let me tag along with the two of them for the weekend. (The feature photo of this post is my granddaughter and I on our girl’s trip.)

The evening before her meet, the three of us sprawled out on the hotel bed with a rainbow of colorful pens and detailed coloring books.  We peacefully listened to a book on tape and colored in flowers, fish, and obscure designs, stopping to admire each other’s work along the way.   It was a magical, carefree moment and a wonderful way to relax before bed.  It reminded me how much retirement is like being a kid again – free to create without time pressures or fear of judgement. I wanted to tell my sweet granddaughter not to let the opinions of careless people and the need to fit in ever crush her creative, carefree spirit. But of course, I couldn’t. Everyone has to learn that for themselves. It is part of growing up.

“Honor that girl inside of you. Remember who you were before you cared for what you looked like. Before you knew the sting of rejection. Before you were told that you couldn’t, or that you weren’t or that you hadn’t. You are still that girl – before the roles, the labels, the pains, that girl lives on…”

S. C. Lourie

So, I have come full circle and am enjoying some of the very same hobbies that I did as a kid. Have you picked up a childhood hobby or interest again in retirement? If not, consider giving it a try. It has made my retirement so much more enjoyable and satisfying.

10 comments on “Living Like a Kid Again

    1. Hi Donna –

      True. Unlike childhood, in retirement we have control over the people we let into our life and how we choose to live it. We may choose to pick up hobbies from childhood or explore totally new interests. Retirement life is good!

  1. I’m reminded of the look of bliss on Taylor’s & Dacia’s faces as they were swinging, Taylor singing, “Imagine! Imagine!” I can capture that feeling when kayaking on nearby lakes. And yet, I don’t do enough of it. At least once every summer, I make a point of lying on the grass looking up at the sky, letting thoughts drift like the clouds. I have play dates with the 33 mo old neighbor little, letting her direct the activities. The last time she was here, we stacked rocks from the rock border, looking for special ones, then tossing them back. Then we built a snowman, gathering branches for arms, dried hydrangeas for hair, etc. Play with her balances the sobriety of adulthood which currently includes tending to my 91 yr old mother who recently moved to a nursing home.

    1. Hi Mona –

      Being with kids certainly helps us to live in the moment, enjoying the simple things. They are good for our old souls. There is something so peaceful about laying in the grass and imaging formations in the clouds. (Thanks for that reminder.) Why don’t we do it more? Perhaps, like you mentioned, it is the “sobriety of adulthood” that pulls us back. I am trying to soften the harsh edges of life with childlike play and wonder more often.

      It is so hard seeing our parents age and walking with them through the transitions that requires. I wish you and your mom the very best as you navigate new territory.

    1. Hi Kara –

      As you probably figured out, your dad was the one with the bike tire inner tube wrapped around him. No surprise there. πŸ˜‚

  2. I was sooo excited about getting that bike for my birthday. I remember Mom taking that picture of us. Thank you for rekindling that special memory.πŸš²πŸ‘§πŸΌπŸ‘©πŸ»

    1. Hi Janie –

      I remember that day as well. It was a pretty cool bike…even second hand.😘

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