Nostalgia Unveiled: The Top 40 Things Adults Fondly Recall About Childhood, Including School Holidays and Carefree Days

A recent study of 2,000 individuals in the UK has shed light on the aspects of childhood that adults miss the most. Topping the list are the carefree mornings, the joy of school holidays, and the absence of life admin responsibilities.

The survey delved into the nostalgic activities that people yearn for from their younger years, with over half (56 percent) admitting that they feel they have lost some of their sense of fun as they’ve grown older.

Among the top 40 items on the list were receiving pocket money, playing in the park, and immediately indulging in television after returning home from school. Others expressed missing the luxury of having everyday tasks taken care of, such as cooking, washing, and packed lunches.

The feeling of waking up with excitement, particularly on birthdays, also featured prominently in the responses. The research was commissioned by Tropicana, which is advocating for adults to reclaim a childlike positivity each day by erecting a giant bed on the main concourse of King’s Cross station for adults to use as a trampoline.

The survey revealed that individuals typically remembered starting their days feeling happy (35 percent), playful (22 percent), and optimistic (21 percent) during their childhood. In contrast, adults today wake up feeling tired (42 percent), stressed (24 percent), and anxious (21 percent). Their minds are preoccupied with thoughts of the weather, work tasks for the day, money, and bills.

Caroline Wilding, spokesperson for Tropicana Brands Group, commented, “With many adults in the country longing for the fun they experienced as children, such as being outdoors or singing without a care, we urge the nation to embrace that nostalgic positivity and ‘Be More Kid.'”

“We want to remind people to infuse their day with a sense of childlike joy and sunshine. The way we start each day, from our breakfast choices to our commute, has a significant impact on setting the tone for the day ahead.”

The Simplicity of Times Past The research also found that over a quarter (26 percent) of respondents wished they hadn’t taken their childhood for granted when they were young, and the most enjoyable age was identified as nine years old. In comparison, adults reported losing their sense of fun at around age 27.

Half of the participants agreed that grown-ups need to adopt a more carefree attitude and learn from the uninhibited nature of children. Furthermore, 27 percent admitted to feeling envious of those who have fun without worrying about what others think.

Adults believe they can learn several valuable lessons from children, including making time for enjoyment (45 percent), seeing the best in people (40 percent), and starting the day with a positive outlook (38 percent).

Of those surveyed, 56 percent had engaged in childlike activities since becoming adults. These activities included taking daytime naps (41 percent), playing arcade games (38 percent), and colouring in (33 percent). Such pastimes made them feel happy (56 percent) and carefree (44 percent), according to data from

Caroline Wilding added, “For almost a third of adults, their mood is influenced by how they start their day. It clearly demonstrates the importance of beginning the morning on a positive note—a glass-half-full attitude, if you will.”

“It was enlightening to learn that over half of the respondents felt happy when engaging in childlike activities. Therefore, to spark inspiration and provide people with an excuse to make time for positivity, we have installed a giant bed at King’s Cross. Commuters and passersby can tap into their inner positivity and infuse their day with more joy. We hope those who participate can momentarily forget about work commitments or daily stresses and simply jump on a giant bed, transforming their ordinary morning routine into a fun-filled opportunity.”

Top 40 Things Adults Miss About Being a Child:

  1. School holidays
  2. Waking up without a care in the world, free from worries about the day ahead
  3. No life admin responsibilities
  4. Being cooked for
  5. Being looked after when unwell
  6. Waking up on birthday mornings feeling excited
  7. Spending a lot of time outdoors
  8. Playing in the park
  9. Getting pocket money
  10. Seeing friends every day at school
  11. Falling asleep quickly and easily
  12. Having household chores taken care of
  13. Watching children’s TV shows
  14. Not understanding the concept of money
  15. Experiencing everything for the first time (e.g., flying, going to the cinema)
  16. Waking up with a sense of excitement
  17. Having friends over after school or visiting friends’ houses
  18. Believing you could become anything you wanted when you grew up
  19. Not having to do grocery shopping
  20. Watching TV after coming home from school
  21. Climbing trees
  22. Being treated to sweets and chocolates
  23. Having toys purchased for you
  24. Drawing and coloring in
  25. Knocking on neighbors’ doors to play outside
  26. Playing hide and seek
  27. Not worrying about getting dirty while playing outdoors
  28. Going to fairs and enjoying rides
  29. Playing on arcade machines
  30. Being read to
  31. Having packed lunches made
  32. Waking up with a positive attitude
  33. Being carried when too tired to walk
  34. Singing without caring how it sounded
  35. Jumping in puddles
  36. Walking, cycling, or scooting to school
  37. Receiving certificates or gold stars
  38. Having sleepovers
  39. Taking daytime naps
  40. Participating in after-school clubs or hobbies

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