Age is very relative and there are times when no grown up wants to “act their age.” If there are any people on the planet who truly know how to let go and have fun, it’s four year olds! Here are five ideas gleaned from my years of teaching preschool on how to take (or possibly rip) a page from a four year old’s book and have simple fun (I highly recommend including these in your life in the way you might a date night, movie club, pick-up soccer game, or phone app):
1) Pajama Day
On this day, all residents of the establishment will wear pajamas. Slippers and the carrying of stuffed animals is encouraged. Blankets may be donned Linus style and you can’t really be expected to do anything that might mess up your jammies or overall feeling of coziness. Hot chocolate, stories, coloring, and nap time should also be on the itinerary.
We will chase each other outside. First I will be the monster and chase you, then we will switch. Growling and screaming are recommended. Figure out how to use your arms to be bigger and scarier. I am probably faster than you, but don’t feel too bad!
3) Snack Time
Let us gather for saltines and cheese, grapes cut in half, and apple slices with peanut butter. We will sit at the table together and try to make each other laugh by letting food hang off our faces in various ways. An apple or an orange slice placed sideways into the mouth with the skin facing out is a favored look.
Conversation starter: play a game called, “Remember that Time”, in which we discuss outlandish things we did(n’t) do. The more absurd the better, such as, “Remember that time you were at my house and a goat came out of the TV and ate the raisins and took a nap?” (response: “Yeah, and remember, then we…”). Surreal and deconstructed knock-knock jokes are also a big hit, such as “Knock, knock, Who’s there? The chicken? Who’s there? Aren’t you glad I didn’t say banana?”
4) Circle Time
We’ll sit in a circle and pass around a stuffed animal. When you have the stuffed animal, say how you are doing or tell us a story your family probably would prefer you didn’t share. Then we will discuss the weather and sing a song about it. Tickling, laying down, and not listening to others is expected.
5) Dance Party
Listen to folk or pop music, preferably with a frenetic beat, and make up incorrect lyrics. Typical behaviors will be playing air guitar, spinning until dizzy, jumping, bumping into things, saying, “Oh, yeah!” and generally moving all limbs freely. People who do not know if they like dancing may sit in the corner and watch the dance party with a mixture of astonishment, adoration, and fright, or do as they like.
If a four year old could do whatever they wanted all day, the results at times would be a bit more chaotic and messy than these options, and that’s okay too. If you haven’t made a ridiculous mess or pillow fort in a while, give it a go. If you try these activities with an open mind, I think you will find them quite silly and refreshing. Other fun ones to try are sandbox, superheroes, sidewalk chalk, water fights, face painting, and sensory play with colored shaving cream. If at any point during these activities you feel the need to act out, scream, or cry, a soft pile of pillows can be provided to you to rest on until you feel better, at which point you will be accepted back into the group with open arms.