When I was a new mother, my idea of fun was changing my new little bundle into and out of the darling new clothes that were hanging in his closet. Now as a mother to three, that task has gone from “fun” to “daunting” each morning. Thank goodness my definition of “fun” has evolved over time!
The fact is, mothering is not always fun. There are many things that must be done to maintain a household, and as much as my six-year-old would like it to be otherwise, I simply cannot play with him all the time. But “fun” must exist. And “fun” doesn’t have to just mean playing.
So how do we create “fun” amidst the “must be done” tasks of motherhood? I will be the first to admit that I am no expert at this. It is so much easier for me to focus on the task-oriented parts of motherhood. I have to make a conscious effort to have fun with my kids. Sometimes the fun doesn’t happen on its own. We may have to schedule it like we would an appointment. Also, it is important to grab the “fun” moments when they come. Planned or not, sometimes we have to stop what we are doing and enjoy the moment before it passes. Sometimes that is really hard!
This past summer, I worked hard to schedule in some fun every day. Each day of the week had a theme and my children and I had fun creating memories together. I had to plan ahead. It took a little bit of work, but the end result was so worth it. I loved introducing my children to many of the activities I enjoyed as a kid. Life was so simple then and I really want my own children to enjoy the simple joys of childhood. Together we have made suckers, painted rock monsters, created numberless crafts, had puzzle races, taken leisurely hikes, attended our county and state fairs, planted a garden, and much more.
Sometimes my children resist the fun I create. It may not always be fun during, but the memories of the adventure may be remembered as fun. Recently, my family took a trip to Minnetonka Cave in St. Charles, Idaho near Bear Lake. I had planned the trip for months and I was excited for this part of the trip. The caves are amazing, but they are also dark and quite cold (only 40 degrees). The minute we entered the cave, my six-year-old began to complain that it was dark. He wanted to go back out. The tour is 90-minute round trip and we were with a large group; I was not going to turn around. My child held tight to my dad’s hand for the entire tour, and he uttered the same “It’s too dark,” or “How much longer” complaints throughout the entire trip. I kept asking him, “Chad, isn’t this so cool?” He always responded with “No.” After 90 minutes in the cave, we walked back out into the light and immediately, Chad admitted that it “was cool.” He has talked about it since and how neat the formations were inside it. Even though it wasn’t fun for him at the time, he remembers it as fun.
Even when our children resist, sometimes we must encourage the fun anyway.
Another way we have fun as a family it to work together at the daily tasks. My children know that it is a family effort to keep our home in order. That means that they have jobs to do, too, not just mom. But I try to make it fun. We love to race the timer and try to complete a job in a set time limit. My six-year-old gets so excited about beating the clock that I often find him helping his younger brother with his part of the job just to ensure that we beat the timer.
I love to create family traditions. It gives me something to look forward to and plan for. My family is young, so we are still creating many traditions, and building upon those we already have. Traditions don’t have to be for holidays only; they can be a weekly or even a daily fun.
Each Saturday night we have a family movie night. This is the highlight of the week at our house as we each take turns picking the movie. At first we always rented a new movie from Redbox, but now we have started digging into the archives and watching older movies my husband and I grew up loving. These otherwise forgotten shows are quickly becoming some of our children’s favorites.
Some of our daily fun includes me singing a “wake-up” song to my kids each morning during the school year. We enjoy an after-school snack together each day when my oldest gets home. We regard our dinner time together as sacred. Each night during dinner we share what we did that day to help someone else. These activities have become routine and our children look forward to them as fun.
The fun moments we spend with our children create lasting memories. I would bet that the most common phrase out of my three and six-year-olds’ mouths is “Do you remember when we. . .” and then they proceed to share something we did together. These memories and the fun we had creating them bind our family together. To me, that is the most important thing of all.
QUESTION: Where in your schedule can you create fun on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis?
CHALLENGE: Try to create a new tradition in your family. Get excited about it and they will be too! Stick to it.