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Feet jumping in muddy puddles

Five outdoor activities that aren't just for kids

The good thing about embracing your inner child is that you know it’s in there somewhere. All you need to do is strip away years of being dull and sensible and throw yourself into the outdoors. It’s about more than just having a bit of momentary fun though, as important as that is. 

Doing things just for the sake of it or to see what happens is how we learn and it’s the desire to learn that defines our youth. We tend to lose our sense of wonder and exploration as we get older. Our brains lose a little of their plasticity, our lives lose a little spontaneity. 

Regaining that vibrant, carefree attitude can be tough, and while these activities won’t give you a magic Hollywood de-aging, they might just help you tap into the childlike spirit of adventure that’s been taking a really long nap for the last few years. They’re simple, free, fun and available to anyone with a bit of green space and the willingness to mess about a bit.

A woman watching clouds sitting on a grassy hillside

Den building 

Gather fallen sticks and branches and interlace them around a tall trunk, creating a little green space all of your own. It’s a great way to connect with the earth and literally surround yourself with nature. Remember to just freestyle it too, no need to make a Pinterest board for the interior design.

Cloud watching 

Kids have an amazing ability to make stories from just about anything, so try and let your imagination run wild with the clouds. Look for the weirdest things and weave them into your narrative, not caring if it makes sense to anyone else or not.

Living like someone else does your laundry

Jump in puddles, climb trees and roll down hills. Kids don’t care about grass stains or tears in their clothes and neither should you. Besides, it’s not like you need to get dressed up much at the moment, is it? 

Playing Pooh sticks 

The bridge-based stick racing game is a classic but there’s more scope than you might think. Lengthen the course, get creative with leaf sails and ivy-tied stabilisers, or play at the local pond, for the added thrill of swan dodging.  

Two people's feet splashing in a puddle

Becoming a nature expert

Kids are naturally curious and we could all benefit from knowing more about our environment. While you could of course try pointing at things and shouting, “wassat?”, we recommend taking a book out and studying leaf shapes, buds and bugs to help you understand the wonderful world on your doorstep.

a close up of a lady's hand holding a leaf of fern with a metallic green beetle on it

And finally, three activities that really ARE just for kids...

a pigeon covered by the banned sign

Trying to eat mud 

It might look like chocolate and have a certain umami flavour, but until someone opens an artisan mud cafe (Shoreditch, 2023?), leave it alone.

Chasing pigeons 

Yes they move oddly and are strangely fascinating, but what are you going to do with one if you catch it anyway?

Endangering yourself

Try to fight the desire to run towards prickly bushes or spiky fences as if they're long lost friends. Nobody knows why kids do this, but that’s one they can keep.