I’m on a quest to be more of the “fun mom” and less of the “super serious mom”, but, friends, it’s not easy. I’ve talked before about my struggle to be a fun mom and it’s a very real one. It’s not that I don’t want to be the fun mom, it’s that it’s sometimes hard to balance the “what needs to be done” with the “what would be fun to do.” Because, as you know, there are always a whole lot of “needs to be done” tasks.
To give myself permission to be more fun, I came up with some easy ways to be the fun mom that aren’t overly challenging and that I can smoothly fit into our daily lives. So far, so good!
Easy Ways to Be the Fun Mom
Stop for Iced Tea/Cocoa/Coffee/Smoothies
When you’re a kid, it’s a big deal to go through the drive-thru for an iced tea or hot chocolate on the way home from school. It is an even bigger deal to actually stop and go in and sit at a table in a real coffee shop. My kids call them Mom Dates. I don’t think I realized how special they viewed that time with me until they actually started calling them Mom Dates.
Mom Dates = Fun Mom. Score!
We have a local coffee shop we love and my girls would rather go there and play the old ratty board games they keep on the shelves with me than pretty much anything else in the world. It feels like a special treat for them and for me. I’ve started swinging by the coffee shop occasionally on the way home from picking the girls up. Sometimes I plan it ahead of time, but other times it’s more spontaneous. If I sense that they’ve had a really rough day, I’m definitely stopping.
Go Outside and Play
When I have a lot of work to do, it’s hard to take a break, but I’ve been trying to spend 30 minutes outside playing with the girls every day. Sometimes we do sidewalk chalk, other times we blow bubbles, and sometimes I cheer them on as they ride their bikes in the driveway. When it is warm, I time them to see who can get their swimsuit on the fastest so we can take a quick dip in the community pool before dinner.
Those 20-minutes gives them a chance to get out some energy and gives me a chance to soak up some much-needed vitamin D. I’ve found that it doesn’t require a big time commitment to go outside with them; 30 minutes of playing is the perfect length of time to tire them out and have everyone still happy. The girls love that I’ve been going outside with them and said it has improved my “fun mom score” exponentially!
If I am feeling run down, we can do something outside that is more artistic than active. We live and breathe Amazon Prime and always have piles of cardboard boxes around. We are currently painting boxes to look like the places the like to go in our community – the coffee shop, their school, the ice cream shop, our house… Then on the weekends, the kids set them up on the driveway and play neighborhood. If a box tears up, we just toss it and paint a new one.
Let Them Help
I’m the kind of person who likes to get in there, get something done, and move on. I tend to have a plan in my head and don’t like things slowing me down. For business, it’s great. For mothering three girls, not so much. So, one of the things I am really working on as a mother is to slow down and let the girls help me with what I’m doing. I set aside tasks that they can do to help with making dinner or when I’m gardening – and make a point to teach them anything they show an interest in learning. And eureka… the learning is fun for all of us!
I’ve learned they can do far more than I would have credited them for before I made myself slow down. My 6-year-old has learned to safely cut vegetables with a real knife (with supervision, of course), the 4-year-old likes to peel everything. And I am confident the teenager can feed herself real actual food when she moves out of the house one day. They all also know how to identify, prune, and trim all the herbs in our garden and are learning which flavors go together. (I am kind of proud… can you tell??)
Honestly, it does take longer, but they have so much fun working and talking alongside me that it’s worth the extra time. (One of their favorite things to do is smoosh the kiwis for our Kiwi Sorbets before I put them in the blender. They actually fight over whose turn it is to smash them.) I’ve learned that when I make space for them to do things with me, is also when they talk to me the most. I learn so much about them as individuals when they are having fun with me. For them, helping is fun and that fun is associated with me, so it’s a win-win for us all.
Learning to be the Fun Mom
I’m sure I’ll discover more ways to be the fun mom, but for now, these simple ideas have made a big difference in our lives. I’m discovering that it’s not about being wild and crazy, it’s about surprises and small gestures. Being the fun mom often means just letting the girls participate in life in ways that they haven’t before and being willing to get a little dirty myself.