Before I had kids, I was determined to be the “fun mom.” You know, the one who had the best play dates, the happiest kids, the best vacations. I’d read to my kids every night after their joyful and overflowing bubble baths that were filled with squeaky toys and shiny, happy rainbows. I was going to be fun with a capital F! It was going to be amazing.
And…then I actually had kids.
Somewhere between the, “Don’t put that in your mouth” and “Stop hitting your sister” moments, I realized that I was seriously lacking in the fun department. Laundry was coming before play time and cooking dinner meant they got to spend more quality time with Caillou than they did with me.
While I was seriously fine with missing out on Caillou, I wasn’t fine with missing out on time spent with them. I knew I had to change things. I had to become that fun parent I had envisioned for so long. It was time. Here are my four ways to be a fun parent – even when you’re not feeling like so much fun.
- Create Routines
Routines may not sound like much fun, but when there’s order and structure in the day, there’s also peace and predictability. Your kids will thrive on it and so will you. The comfort in knowing what to expect will lead to better behavior and fewer struggles. When you don’t have to constantly worry about redirecting your kids, you’re happier and much more fun to be around. A less stressed mom is a fun mom.
- Make the Little Moments Big!
There’s a fallacy in the theory that being a fun parent means extravagant, over-the-top activities. What really makes a fun parent is someone who captures those small moments and turns them into big ones. Instead of just putting on socks, play This Little Piggy with your child’s toes before you slip them on his feet. Have a race to see who can pick up toys at the end of the day first.
Make a walk to the mailbox a nature walk and see how many different things you can find. Turn those ordinary moments into special ones by being just a little more present.
Fun parents don’t sit on the sidelines. They build towers from blocks and play I Spy in the car. They’re the encouragers, the believers, and the rapt audience during an impromptu show. Whether it’s playing for five minutes or 50, those moments when you’re actively engaged means the world to your child.
- Set Limits
Being a fun parent doesn’t mean you’re a pushover parent. It means you care enough about your child to set limits, say no, and keep them safe. Yes, you can be a mean mom. When you set limits, it teaches children what’s acceptable and what’s not.
It allows them to test the boundaries and try new things all within the safety of your invisible net. You become the mom who lets her child try to climb the tree or balance on the log. You become the fun mom who lets them grow their wings, but catches them when they fall.
While the image of a “fun” parent that I had so long ago looks nothing like what I am today, I now realize that fun comes in many different forms. I’m okay with being the routine making, limit-setting, memory-making, play-participating mom. And, if the sound of the laughter and love that pour from my children is any indication, they’re okay with me being this new fun mom too.