Do any of you mothers out there feel like we spend all day policing our children, making rules, setting boundaries, and being enforcers, and then Dad comes home from work and gets to be the “fun one”? I’ll be the first to cheer my husband on for all the hard work he does in providing for our family, and he has more than earned some roll-on-the-floor playtime with the kids when he gets home. But sometimes I look on with just a tinge of wistfulness and wish the kids would see me as the “fun one” too.
So instead of just wishing, I embraced the idea full force–with a group of nine other mothers. We ten moms all packed up our combined 47 children for 3 days of FUN, in the form of a camping trip for moms and kids. NO DADS ALLOWED!
“You are crazy.” “Are you crazy?” “That’s crazy!” There wasn’t a lot of variety in the responses I got when I told other moms about our upcoming adventure. But as the first camping trip drew near in August 2011, I didn’t let my mind go there–too much risk of backing out! Instead I went full steam ahead with lots of joy and enthusiasm and a fellow friend as organizer to keep me going.
The result was incredible. I wasn’t one mom to three kids–we were ten moms to nearly fifty kids. It was actually a lot easier than trying to go it on our own. If my own (ages 1, 3 and 5) weren’t right in eye shot, it was okay, because they were in someone else’s. The setup made it super easy to be laid back and gave the whole trip a very easy-going feel. And easy-going equals fun, in a kid’s world.
The kids were in their element. There were many new friends to meet (each of us only knew a couple of the other moms). There was dirt to roll in and forests to explore. There were hours in the mucky lake and jumping off the dock. There were canoe rides and kayak rides and blow-up dinghy rides for the little ones. There were bags of candy that showed up at the beach and at least two tons of marshmallows roasted over the fire. There were moments where kids gathered out of earshot to discuss life through their child eyes. There was zip line rides–yes, even for the moms. There was jumping and singing and laughing and making a fool out of oneself. And that was the moms’ behavior!
Yes, for three glorious days, we let it all out. We said “yes” as often as we could. We got in the dirt and played with our kids. We snuggled up to little bodies in our cold tents at night. We ate hot dogs and Fruit Loops. We made friendship bracelets and painted faces. We got down on the ground and played all day with our kids, who basked in the undivided attention.
YOU CAN PLAN A BIG EVENT LIKE THIS, TOO!
It might seem daunting at first, but here are a few tips to plan your own camping trip (or something similar)
- Don’t go it alone–many mom hands make for light work.
- Organize it with a friend. Divide and conquer the details.
- Share the workload on the trip. We paired moms up, and each pairing was responsible for only one meal.
- Go easy on the schedule. You don’t need to plan every minute of every day. Kids love freedom and spontaneity, as well as the opportunity to do one thing for as long as they like without being herded to the next activity.
- Let go of the things that don’t really matter. Let the kids get dirty, eat fun snacks, stay up a little late. It will help everyone be much more relaxed.
- Have FUN! If anything is getting in the way of fun, rethink it. Is it necessary to have/do? Will it be easier to let it go? A few days of unstructured fun will not kill any routines you have in place at home. It will let you kids know that sometimes it’s good just to let go and have fun.
QUESTION: How do you prove to your kids that moms are fun?
CHALLENGE: Is there a daring adventure you’ve been wanting to plan? If so, get together with a few friends and make it happen!