I always vowed to myself that I’d be one of those mums who rushed out in the rain with my child and start dancing in it just for fun. That I’d have a food fight in the kitchen while baking a cake together or chase each other around a shopping centre during Christmas because we were high on life.
The reality is, motherhood is a lot more restrictive than that.
It’s about discipline, scheduling, teaching and moral representation. It’s about making sure dinner’s on the table at the right time or that lunches are always packed and drop offs happen with all limbs (and mental facets) intact.
No one will deny that parenthood (dads included here) is hard work. But more than that, it can be regimentally dulling.
What happened to that person (before kids) who would stay up all night with their friends then head to work two hours later? Or decide to roadtrip for 10 hours because they heard of some beer festival in some town not too far away.
What happened was that being responsible for a little human being takes a lot more forethought.
Dancing in the rain might sound great, but the possibility of pneumonia, having to wash more dirty clothes, running late with cooking dinner and generally creating more work for yourself quickly turns you off the idea.
But then, what’s left?
What becomes of life if it’s a constant rush from one important task to the next? Sure, the house is tidy, dinner is served at the appropriate time and all the jobs on the list are taken care of in time for mum and dad to wind down before bed. But is that what our children will remember?
Is that what life is made of?
Don’t misunderstand my tone. I am one of the biggest victims of the ‘boring parent’ monotony than anyone I know.
I’ve stooped so far from the exemplary model of a ‘Lorelai’ mum (Gilmore Girls reference) that I’ve found myself becoming more of a lackluster mum from an Austen novel.
But, it’s in the moments I’ve caught myself breaking away from what I think I should do, that I’ve become the best mother I can be for my daughter.
Because all she wants is for me to see life the way she sees it. To stop and smell the flowers. To be her pal a few more minutes of the day, instead of just a parent.
But why should we? What difference will it actually make to our children if we broke off from our responsible railroad?
And more importantly, HOW on earth do we do it?
For me, it’s not necessarily that I’ve forgotten how to let loose and get merry with the kiddies, it’s that I feel I have NO TIME in my busy schedule.
‘But you homeschool, surely all you have is time?!’ I hear you say.
Technically, you’d be right.
But imagine having to run a weekly schedule that includes craft, numbers, reading, worksheets, hiking, cultural trips, learning various topics, swimming lessons (at home), yoga practice, playdates, bike riding, project making and library trips. Oh, and on top of that groceries, cleaning, washing, errand running, cooking, home administration, health appointments and lastly (if I can catch a spare moment) writing for my blog.
So, how to fit in ‘FUN MUM’?
Allocate time. Actually calendar it in and dedicate a half hour in the day to pure silliness with your one and only/s.
2.LET THEM LEAD YOU
For all the authoritative, regimental and timely leadership skills we put into practice with our kids each and every day, this is an opportunity to sit back and let the kids take charge.
Last time I asked Acacia the question ‘We can do anything you want for the next half hour, what do you want us to do?’, it turned into dancing/practicing acrobatics to Queen until one of us got hurt.
Luckily, it wasn’t Acacia.
But in that half hour, while the potatoes turned brown and the vegetables over-boiled in the kitchen, I actually had a blast.
Excusing myself from my duties so that I could mess around with my little best friend was surprisingly far more liberating than having a cup of tea and scrolling through instagram.
3. IT’S JUST AS MUCH FOR YOU AS IT IS FOR THEM
We all need time off or time out from our kids.
Drinking (or more to the point) finishing a cup of tea in the late afternoon before getting dinner ready, is one of those moments I particularly look forward to.
Why? Because the anxiety is real.
And when your child is crawling on top of you, while you’re trying to speak with Citi Bank, a cup of tea/coffee/wine is very much in order.
But it wasn’t until I decided to forfeit my large mug of afternoon tea to play hide and seek (in our one bedroom apartment), that I suddenly felt the complete eradication of tension, anxiety or rigidity that I’d been carrying around all day.
Leaving my world to join in with hers wasn’t as stressful as I imagined. In fact, it was exactly what the doctor had ordered.
4. BECAUSE LIFE IS TOO SHORT
When I look back at my first year of motherhood, I don’t remember getting dinner on the table at the right time. I don’t remember having washed and folded all the cloth diapers neatly in the drawer ready for the week.
One of the best memories I have with Acacia was when she was 6 months old and we crawled around the garden together picking dandelions. Seems trivial, perhaps even a little dull. But seeing her giggle every time I placed a flower on her head and let it fall infront of her eyes was EVERYTHING to me.
Taking time to PLAY with my daughter, on her level, was my most treasured experience. It was access to another kind of bonding between us.
We were forming our own relationship. Creating memories not just for me, but for her too.
She saw me as the kind of mother who was able to leave her own world behind for a moment, in order to melt into hers.
I’m writing all this, not just for those of you reading it, but for myself too.
I need this article as a reference to come back to, so that I might hold myself accountable to the change I want to make in my parenting. Because I’ve realized I ought to start letting go of the things I THINK I should to be doing more of, so that I can actually start having FUN with my child.
It’s not easy being a parent. But maybe being a ‘fun mum/dad’, might make it a little bit easier.
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