Do you ever feel like you just wish you could have more fun with your kids? I don’t know about other parents, but it seems these days we are expected to do everything perfectly. We’re expected to make healthy meals, help with homework – which often requires exceptional math skills – schedule play dates, carpool (i.e., professional Uber service), and show up to every game, recital and parent teacher conference. Oh, and don’t forget about college tuition – which for many parents, is equal to whole year’s salary. And that’s just for one year of school!
Parenting today is no joke. But it doesn’t have to be serious all of the time. As parents, we need to remember to take advantage of the fact that we live with kids. Kids, after all, are geniuses when it comes to living in the moment and not sweating the small stuff. Kids, even older ones, are more than happy to have fun in a moment’s notice.
Parenting should be fun. If we focus too much on being “the best” parents, or majoring in minor details, we’ll miss out on making memories with our kids. The next thing you know, you’re telling someone half your age, “It goes fast. One morning I woke up and my kids are leaving for college.”
Here some ways you can have more fun with your kids:
1. Be in the Moment
I guarantee your 7-year-old doesn’t spend much time worrying about their schedule the following day or regretting the decision they made the day before. They’re too busy being fully engaged in what’s right in front of them. All their thoughts, feelings and senses are activated in the present moment.
Adults call this mindfulness. If you’ve tried any type of meditation, you know what I’m talking about.
Your first step to having more fun with your kids is to be right there in the moment with them. Don’t let your mind wander to all of those adult responsibilities you have – just be with them. And when it does, don’t let it guide or control you. Be aware when your attention is being pulled away and redirect it to what’s right in front of you. Hint: using your senses is a great way to do this.
Put your phone on airplane mode or set it aside. Remove any other potential distractions and if you find your mind wondering, it’s OK. Just bring yourself back to the moment and let go of the need to be perfect.
2. Share Your Passions with Your Kids
If the idea of watching Daniel Tiger or playing Legos for hours on end doesn’t thrill you, your kids will know you’re faking it. Why not introduce your kids to something you love to do?
If you love arts and crafts, start a creative project together. If you love to cook, bring them in the kitchen with you and teach them a thing or two. If you don’t love to cook, you still need to make dinner so you might as well try to make it fun.
Have a project around the house you’ve been meaning to tackle? Grab your youngster and ask for their “expertise.” Small children love to be little helpers learn the ropes.
Your kids don’t really care what they do with you, they just want to be with you. Sure, maybe your teenager will roll her eyes at the the idea of taking a cooking class together, but the reality is she really wants to try new things to get closer to you. Trust me.
3. Make Not So Fun Things Fun
Some of us don’t have tons of free time to devote to taking a class with our kids or going to the bowling alley every weekend. But this doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with them.
The reality is, any activity can be fun if we intend it to be. Doing the dishes together after dinner? See who can do the best duck quacking. Have to study vocabulary words? Try it in a goofy accent. Stuck in traffic on the way home? Make up a song and create a scoring system to appoint a winner. Have young boys? Turn anything into a competition. Literally anything!
When it comes to having more fun with your kids, there really aren’t any rules except to just do it.
Parenting is tough stuff. It is the hardest and most important job you’ll ever have. But it doesn’t always have to feel like work. Tap into your inner child, let your goofy side shine through and join your kids in some laughter and smiles.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.