While unpacking some boxes the other day, I came across my school journals from fifth grade. With my son starting fifth grade the next day, I was particularly interested in reading them. I curiously read about my first day of fifth grade, the concerns and interests I had, and my 10-year-old perspective of life. I shared a few of the entries with my son and we had a good laugh. He was impressed and surprised that we both liked the same exhibit at a particular museum, that I chose to get a balloon sword instead of an animal or heart, and that I had read and liked many of the same books he liked. His comment was, “Cool mom! You weren’t like the girls I know. You were a fun girl. I would have been friends with you!”
Fortunately, Josh and I are friends and we do have fun together! I don’t really think of myself as fun. It takes effort sometimes to be fun. For my “maybe-slightly uptight” personality, it also takes a lot of letting go. However, the memories and relationships are totally worth it! Here are a few things I have learned from my adventure-loving three boys!
Be interested. Don’t you love it when someone shows interest in you? Be interested in your children. Find out their individual likes and dislikes. What do they like to do? Now run with it! Help your children develop new interests by giving them opportunities to casually try new things. Join or start a club, find a class and research online. My nature boy and I are going on a guided wild edibles hike. My runner boy and I are doing a 5K foam fest run (yikes!). I bet you’d never know you had a pudding finger paint artist unless you gave it a try!
Get Involved. I have noticed that my boys think that everything is more fun if Mom’s doing it too. There is no better way to show you are interested than to get involved yourself. Argh! to my to-do list! Sometimes I have to let go of what I want to do (which either fades away or gets done eventually) and participate in games, work along side my sons and get up and throw the ball. Those “crazy fun” spontaneous moments will happen if you are there.
Let go. Be silly and be OK with it! Roll down the hill. Dance with your two left feet. Make a mess and allow your children to make a mess. My boys’ happiest times include a lot of dirt and water. And really, the washing machine takes care of it. Let your kids see you enjoy life!
Keep it simple. It seems like we have more fun doing things that are relaxed in nature, especially with younger children. Doing something on a “Disneyland” scale tends to be stressful for mom and has big expectations. The child gets overwhelmed and emotions can get out of hand. Of course, go to Disneyland and do the bigger things sometimes. But, recognize that the little things often bring more real joy (and tend to cost a lot less!). Some simple things that could bring joy are reading a good book aloud, dancing at home with the music up loud or watercolor painting a flower at the park. It really isn’t the big things, but the small, everyday experiences that will make lasting memories.
Add music. Music is magic when used at the right times. Some experiences need quiet. Some experiences are enriched with peaceful sounds playing in the background. Sometimes we need to turn up powerful, exciting music. When I turn on the John Williams Star Wars soundtrack my boys quickly transform into Jedis with imaginary light sabers drawn and begin to battle. When I turn on salsa or swing, they jump up and feel the rhythm! Music is powerful! You can be a convenient boombox yourself–just sing! Singing can relieve a tense situation and change the mood of things. I try to sing silly songs when I put band aids on children to distract them from the pain. I am proof that you don’t have to be talented–just sing!
Have fun and enjoy your children for the short time you have them. Let the “good times roll” by adding some interest, involvement, silliness, simplicity and music to your everyday activities. Maybe one day they will be writing about their fun adventures with mom in their own journal!
QUESTION: What are your mothering secrets for creating fun moments with your children?
CHALLENGE: Try to do something fun and spontaneous with your children, even if it means putting aside something on your to-do list.