Last week, a local high school put on a production of Anne of Green Gables. My daughter loves theater, and I love supporting young people investing in their passion. A combination of my husband’s business requiring him to work late mixed with my desire to make my boys do things they aren’t as interested in meant I took all four kids to the play alone.
They’re at an age where it isn’t terrifying to try something new, but they’re still young enough that it could be disastrous. I live in a city where a large family is rare (I don’t have to show my Costco card because we are memorable), so when I am alone with my crew, we get noticed. I mostly got looks of “Way to go, Mom!”, but I also get a few, “You’re really doing this?” stares of confusion when experimenting with something fun.
The play was delightful. My older two kids loved it, and my little boys survived by taking turns playing my phone on the floor. I cried at the end because I could sense how proud the cast was for nailing opening night. It was precious.
This experience reminded me that doing fun things is always worth it.
It would have been easier to stay home and not risk public humiliation by making a three year old sit through a play. You know how unpredictable three year olds can be. But we would have missed out on a wonderful evening.
There are many things I don’t do well as a mom. Should I choose to list them, we would be here all day. But I am also really good at some things. And one of those things is that I am a fun mom.
I notice that a lot of moms complain that Dad is the fun one, but they don’t get to be fun. Some people simply don’t value a good time, and if that’s you, then be you. But if you find yourself wondering what happened to that girl who used to be really fun, I have some very good news for you:
You can be a fun mom.
It’s no secret that moms carry the weight of responsibility of the family. Which means we get to make sure teeth are brushed, vegetables are eaten, school forms are signed, appointments are made, floors are mopped, boo-boo’s are kissed, uniforms are clean, shoes fit, dinner is cooked, calendars are updated, bills are paid, hugs are given, restrictions are on Google, toilets are scrubbed, vacations are planned, birthdays are celebrated, groceries are bought, homework is finished, insurance will cover it…
It takes a lot to keep a family afloat. And moms are kicking butt and taking names like no one’s business on a daily basis.
While getting buried in the never-ending to-do lists required to simply survive each day, it’s easy to stop having fun. But if we stop having fun, motherhood can become almost unbearable. The monotony of our daily tasks will burn us out if we don’t mix in a little fun.
In case you’ve lost your way and have forgotten how to have fun, I’ve created a list of ways you can take Dad’s place as the fun one in the family!
Say “yes” as much as possible.
I have two goals in a day: keep my children alive and make sure they each feel loved and valued. If they ask for something that stays within those bounds, I try to say yes. Yes, you can make cupcakes. Yes, you can make a blanket fort. Yes, you can go swimming. No, you can’t use the ladder to climb on the roof.
I want to make my home a place where my kids love to be, and kids love a yes mom. And I love being a yes mom. The mess is always worth it, and the creative process is good for their soul.
Stop caring about what you don’t care about.
The most fun-sucking parts of our day (besides the necessary daily chores) are typically things we feel like we should care about but don’t actually value. An example for me is that my kids are night owls, and I don’t mind that they stay up late. When I start to feel guilty for their atypical schedule, I will try to enforce arbitrary rules for a few days that have no lasting effect. When I accept the reality of who we are, I love bedtime! I love spending quality time with each child, and I enjoy ending the day on a sweet note.
I know most moms are the opposite of me in this regard; it only serves as an example. But I know there are things you’re doing only because you feel like you should, and they’re sucking the life out of you. So stop.
Kids are way tougher and smarter than we allow them to be. Obviously, babies and little toddlers need near constant supervision, but as kids get older, let them figure it out. Let them make mistakes. Kids are discovering the world for the first time. They will screw up a lot. They will disobey. They will throw fits. They will make messes.
Our culture is insane with how much we hover over children. It’s debilitating to them, and it’s exhausting for us.
Children are not short adults. They are little. Let them be little. Accept the fact that your house will be messy and your floors will be sticky. Babies will cry and toddlers will disobey. Life is a lot more fun when you expect children to act like children.
Buy the chocolate milk. Play the game. Ignore the laundry.
My son asks for chocolate milk in those juice box containers every time we go to the store, and every time I say no (too expensive, unhealthy, unnecessary…). This week I decided to say yes, and he was so excited that you would have thought I ended world hunger. Similar to being a yes mom, do something today that you normally don’t do in the name of being responsible. There are six people in my family; obviously, I can’t ignore laundry forever. But I can ignore it today to play a game of basketball instead. Some friendly competition is good for the soul, and that small investment of time adds a large dose of fun into my day.
Get creative with discipline.
Life is not all sunshine and roses. While allowing kids to be kids, there is also a time to correct and teach. Which is often with four young kids. There is nothing fun about breaking up fights, teaching alternatives to whining, and dealing with the shrill screams of an offended sibling. So I do what I can to make it bearable. When my two older boys are duking it out, I make them hug and look into each other’s eyes without laughing for a full minute. They inevitably start to cackle, and the emotions are diffused. When my kids are screaming in the car, I channel my inner Miss Nelson (remember her?) and turn into a different mom with a weird voice and goofy ideas. Creative discipline makes an annoying task a little more tolerable.
Be a dad for the day.
Do you ever notice how dads spend exactly zero minutes rehearsing all of the ways they’re failing in a day?? They do not apologize for the interesting ways in which they see fit to raise their offspring. When I am feeling particularly burned out, I pretend to be a dad. I let my kids watch TV for like ten hours straight and allow them to exist on junk food. They will live, and you will enjoy the break from force feeding vegetables for the 10th day in a row.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. It’s meant to be fun. The hard and tedious parts will always feel urgent and drown out the joyful, sweet moments if we are not proactive. Daily chores must be done, of course, but taking the time to make life fun makes the whole day better. A fun mom is a happy mom. And a happy mom makes a happy home. A happy home is where kids want to be.
You get to control the atmosphere of your home. Why not make it as awesome as possible??
What are ways that you make your home a fun place to be??