Friday, April 13, 2018

A Little Fun Goes A Long Way

A friend of mine recently heard some of the drama that has been going on in my life.  With a teen and a tween living in the same house, that just can't be avoided sometimes.  I was feeling blue and she shared the name of a podcast that might help.  

I have a love/hate relationship with so many things and one of those things is advice on what to read/listen to/watch.  I'm always polite when someone suggests something, but because I already have a long list of things to read/listen to/watch, I usually ignore the tip.  

thanks, but no thanks.

However, I was desperate and this friend has helped me before.  So, I gave in and listened.  The podcast was so good and just what I needed, not only for my kids but for me as well, that I then proceeded to listen to 3 more podcasts before the end of the day.  

One of the main things I took away from this mini-binge was that fun is important in families.  Laughing and having a good time is key.  Board games are integral.  Time together is not wasted. 

While I knew this already, having a reminder moves ideas like this from somewhere in the muddled mess of my brain into the front, and then I'm intentional about it (until it gets mixed up in the mess again and I need another reminder...).  

Maybe you need a reminder now and then too.  Maybe this can be your reminder.  Ignore the dishes for a minute and laugh (they will still be there after you've had your fun).  

Discipline and responsibility and work and routine and learning and training are all my natural go-to's.  But fun is something I have to work at.  

Here's how I'm trying (**disclaimer**this list will change and evolve, as I will forget and revert to my usual worker bee status, the kids will drive me crazy and I will give up, but I will keep circling around to this list, as best I can):

1.  Gratitude: I put up a piece of paper.  I used tape, it was whatever paper I could find.  I had wanted posterboard and time to do fancy lettering, but it is FINE.  I announced that we will fill the paper with the things we are thankful for.  When that paper is full, I will put up another.  The kids are adding to it everytime they are in the kitchen.  #progress

In the same vein, I noticed my kids don't ask for things and they rarely say "please" or "thank you" to me and my husband.  This is not their fault, they have been trained to ask others for things kindly but to demand or take from us.  We are rectifying this.  A little gratitude goes a long way, even if it's just for a juice box.  

2.  Games:  I love games.  But, we are in a busy season.  So, lately, I've been pulling out UNO.  It's quick (sometimes) and we can all play before or after dinner when we have 15 minutes.  We've played a few times so we'll probably grab some new card games for this weekend.  BLINK is a great one that is truly fast, and we love to play Go Fish and Old Maid.  The wonderful thing about card games is they are easy to set up and clean up.  #winning

3.  Weekend fun:  We can get in a rut with weekends where we're cleaning, going to church, doing homework, and taking naps.  To me, that sounds perfect.  But, we've been trying to use weekends for fun sometimes.  We recently went to see a friend run in a track meet at a college in Philly and in January we explored a museum.  Even just a trip to a fun place for dessert adds a little more fun to an otherwise dull weekend. 

4.  Play:  Now that the weather seems to finally be warming up on the east coast, we are going outside.  This means playing basketball, baseball, and soccer together.  We will be drawing with sidewalk chalk on the driveway and blowing bubbles.  Yes, even 13-year-olds love bubbles.  I'm determined to be intentional about this.  The vitamin D is good for all of us.
This is me in the springtime unitl my allergies kick in at which point I want to scratch my eyes out of my head

5.  Books:  You had to know this was coming, right?  Reading out loud is fun.  It gives you new things to talk about and deepens your connection.  But recently, I had a very specific experience that was so much fun for our family.  

The kids were fighting with me and each other.  No one was happy.  It was one of the last gray, cold days and homework and dinner were looming.  I had to go in the basement to help my son pick out books to take to his first-grade class.  While we were down there, I was looking through the shelves of picture books and board books I had saved when it came time to donate the books we were done with.  My heart literally warmed as I perused those titles.  Books I had read hundreds of times (not an exaggeration), stories we laughed at together, life lessons learned through narrative.  I grabbed some of our favorites and carried them upstairs and sat on the couch with a stack next to me.  

I opened one and began reading.  The kids came.  They heard the familiar phrases and character names and congregated around me.  I couldn't believe it.  I wanted to cry, but I also didn't want to interrupt this moment, so I sat there reading with my kids' faces trained on the book, their ears catching every word.  It was literally magical.  

"Ok, time to make dinner, you've got homework."  No one moved.  

"Come on, one more, please," my oldest child said.  I read one more and promised we'd do this again soon.  And we will.

If you have kids that you used to read Shel Silverstein, Julia Donaldson, or Sandra Boynton to, go dig out those books and read them again.  You won't be disappointed.  

So that's our spring fun-time list.  How do you incorporate fun?  Give me all your ideas!  

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