When I took the Color Code personality test back in my single days, I discovered something that didn’t surprise me at all—I was almost all yellow. That means that I seek fun, enjoy fun, and am motivated by fun.
As a mother, I can see how this facet of my personality influences my children. I have never heard the words, “I’m bored” from any of my children. Maybe it’s because my oldest is only five, maybe it’s because “bored” and “boring” aren’t a part of my vocabulary, or maybe it’s because my little people have learned from infancy that they can create fun from any situation.
Here’s how we create fun in our family:
Talk with Enthusiasm. Just as I would be excited to talk to a dear friend, I speak to my kids with real enthusiasm. We love talking to each other, and they are my dear friends. I keep my energy level high (and if I’m sleep-deprived, I fake it!). Our dialogue is punctuated with exclamation marks—this is partly because I’m loud and partly because I show enthusiasm about everything. My kids love it.
I remember watching my future sister-in-law with her two preschoolers. She said, “Great job, boys!! You cleaned the whole bathroom! Now you can have some sprouts!” And then I watched her two boys jump up and down with delight, “Sprouts! Sprouts! Sprouts!” That scene has never left my mind. I love that she taught them the joy of work and the joy of good nutrition with such gusto.
Say Goodbye to TV. We make sure to experience real life by eliminating screen time. Our firstborn was three months old when we got rid of the TV, and I’ve never regretted it. We didn’t want a screen to be an influential part of our children’s lives, and we didn’t want to risk the harmful effects that early TV exposure can have on the developing brain.
The first year or two, this made more work for me—it would have been easy for me to set my kids in front of a screen so I could just get something done. Instead, I’ve learned how to involve my children in my activities. Our relationship is better because of it, and they have learned to use their own creativity to self-entertain.
Make It into a Game. We make regular activities exciting because we have a positive attitude. Just as Mary Poppins was able to turn the chore of cleaning the nursery into a delightful game, we are able to enjoy cleaning, folding laundry, going shopping, getting dressed, getting loaded into the car, and doing work projects because we turn it into a race or a game and show how fun it is to do it!
Work and Then Play. My kids know that hard work is a fact of life. We do our best to make working as fun as possible—we play while we work. Then we make sure and play some more when the work is finished.
We choose activities that are fun for everyone. My dad is a stellar example of this. He always came home from a long day at work and invited us to do something that we all enjoyed: “Let’s go for a bike ride!” or “Let’s play kickball!” or “Let’s go to the park!”
Different members in a family will have different ideas of what’s fun, but there’s bound to be some common ground, and it’s important to find it for together time. For example, as you can see in our picture, our family found some common ground by participating in the local Mud Day celebration.
Moderation. We don’t overindulge our children. We don’t eat dessert every night, we don’t dress them in brand new clothes, and we don’t buy lots of toys. Instead, I shower them with my attention and affection and the result is kids who are grateful, generous, and sweet.
When my friend lost most of her kids’ clothes and toys in a house fire, I told my four-year-old daughter about it and said that they needed some clothes. My daughter went to her room and pulled out all of her favorite clothes, the very best of what she had, to give to a girl in need.
Share What You Love. I do the things I love with my kids, starting from birth. I remember something a good friend said to me years before I became a mother, “The greatest thing about parenthood is sharing the things you love with your children.” I’ve found a way to continue doing the things I love and make my hobbies an important part of our together time. We hike, bike, and run together. We spend time enjoying birds and insects and sunsets. When Mom has fun, the kids do too.
Many people dutifully fulfill their obligations, but they find no joy in the journey. For me personally, I have to enjoy what I’m doing, otherwise I’m not motivated to excel at it. Creating fun in ordinary situations turns life into a delightful adventure—one that I’m interested in excelling at.
QUESTION: How do you create fun in your family?
CHALLENGE: Choose one of the methods mentioned above to create fun out of an ordinary situation this week.
Original article was published on October 24, 2011.
Edited by Lisa Hoelzer.
Image provided by the author.