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A simple guide to help us reconnect with our child-self.
Connecting with our child-self can be a fun-filled adventure, a healing journey, and a raw glimpse of our past.
It’s an unlearning.
It’s playful and joyful. It’s an honouring and reconnection with our child-self.
My invitation to you, should you choose to accept, is to transform childhood memories into joy, exploration, and play.
Print a photo of yourself as a child.
Keep the photo in a place that you see often. Use this photo as a reminder to be kind to your child-self.
The girl in the photo looks back at me—she is five. Her blue apron dress is neatly ironed with four big, red buttons on the front. She has a collared puffy-sleeved shirt tied up at the neck with a ribbon. The navy suitcase she carries is plastered with “Star Wars” stickers, and her pixie cut flicks out at the ears. Her big, blue eyes shine bright, and she has a shy half-smile.
It’s the summer of 1985, and it’s her first day at kindergarten.
She is me.
This photo sits in a frame on my nana’s duchess in my bedroom. The frame is neon green with coloured stars and other garish blobs of colour. I’m not overly sentimental about things, but the photo and the duchess mean something to me.
I’m named after my nana and my aunt, both incredibly strong women. The duchess is made from silky oak which has a honey hue, and in the morning when I’m getting ready for adulting, I sit at it and bejewel myself. I imagine my nana would have done the same.
What was your favourite thing to do as a child?
Go do it.
If it was drawing, buy some coloured pens and a sketch book and start drawing.
If it was climbing trees, take (safe) risks and go climb.
Little Mary was my younger self who loved drawing and painting for hours on end, who was insanely shy and had a single friend. Recently, I took myself into an art shop and bought a giant canvas and some purple, pink, and green paint. I layered the paint on the canvas with my daughters over a few weekends and consciously let go of what I wanted it to look like. The result is layer upon layer of gorgeous hues and patterns. This painting is in our lounge room and makes me smile when I look at it.
What did little you need to hear?
Tell little you all the things that were never said, that you needed to hear.
Sometimes I imagine walking with my child-self. We hold hands and I reassure her and tell her all the things that little girl needs to hear.
“We’ve got this, beautiful.”
“It’s going to be alright, darling.”
“I’m here for you.”
Sometimes, just sometimes, I glimpse the world through her eyes. It’s fleeting and it’s beautiful and I mother her just like I mother my daughters—with as much love and kindness as I can muster.
What was your favourite book?
Find a copy, go to the library or local book store.
Read that book.
My five-year-old self’s favourite book was Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, an Australia classic which my mother would read to me. It’s the story of two brothers who go on an adventure, joined by Mr. Lizard, Mrs. Snake, and the Bad Banksia Men. I have taught my kids about the Bad Banksia Men, whom the author May Gibbs based on the aged seed heads of Banksias, which we often see in the bushland near my house.
What was your favourite food?
Eat your old favourites.
My favourite activity involving food, of course, was to go to the shops with Mum, just us, and eating hot chips soaked in tomato sauce with a chocolate milk. To this day, hot chips dripping in tomato sauce is one of my joys of life.
Connecting with my child-self has been a slow process of remembering and honouring the shy girl who loved drawing, hot chips, and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.
Whilst reconnecting with our child-self can bring up painful memories, there is an opportunity to transform these into joy and play in our adult lives.
“Hold the hand of the child that lives in your soul. For this child, nothing is impossible.” ~ Paulo Coelho