My kids are fun. Like, really, really fun.
The other day, we had not one but two all-out dance parties. We were singing, laughing and generally being ridiculous in the best way possible.
It felt like we were in one of those happy-family commercials that you see when you’re having your morning caffeine and you’re not sure if you want to cry because it’s so beautiful—or throw your mug at the TV because your kids are screaming like banshees and you want to crawl back under the covers. Well, for the duration of those dance parties, we were that TV family. And it was awesome.
Somehow, I even activated my Super Mom powers and lifted both the toddler and the (very large) preschooler and swung them around for an extended period of time. That’s 80 pounds of kid right there. So, yeah, I’m totally accepting that Super Mom title.
And here’s the thing: You’re also a Super Mom, and your kids are also really, really fun.
How do I know? Because all moms are, and all kids are. We just forget sometimes. We get so overwhelmed, so exhausted and so bogged down by the daily minutiae of life that feels so important at the time.
It sounds easy to have fun with your kids—and of course you want to do it, because that’s the whole point of this parenting thing. You want to enjoy your kids and enjoy being a mom. But it’s hard to have a spontaneous dance party when you’ve just remembered that you have to make three dozen brownies for tomorrow’s bake sale.
When you have a teething toddler who won’t nap and a preschooler who’s having problems at school.
When you get a last-minute work assignment and you’re desperately trying to balance the kids while typing—sometimes literally.
When you have 6,342 e-mails, texts and phone calls to return.
When you’ve gotten maybe eight hours of sleep over the course of the past three days.
When you have to pay the bills, make the doctor appointments, get the forms in for camp, buy and wrap birthday presents, remember everyone’s anniversaries, look up mentally stimulating activities for the kids so they don’t experience the dreaded “summer slide,” check out preschools for the toddler, plan play dates for the preschooler and—oh, yeah—try to take care of yourself even in the most basic ways. And maybe shower once in a blue moon.
Parenting is HARD.
Actually, scratch that. It’s not parenting that’s hard. It’s finding the time to parent in the way that you want that’s hard. Because life happens, and sometimes life isn’t forgiving.
But that’s exactly when you need to make the time for that ridiculous dance party. Because it doesn’t take long at all, and it makes all the difference in the world—for your kids, of course, but also for you. Being in the right mind-set and having fun with your kids goes a long way toward helping you gain perspective on the whole parenting thing.
You don’t need to plan an elaborate vacation or drive hours to Sesame Place for the day. You don’t even have to leave the house.
So, aside from those fabulous dance parties, what else can put a smile on all of your faces instantly?
• Aiming your hairdryer at your toddler periodically while you’re drying your hair. Oh, the giggles!
• Letting the kids jump on the couch. It’s terrible for the couch, but it’s fantastic for family morale. (Note: I certainly don’t let them do this all the time, because my poor couch!)
• Holding your toddler’s hands as she scales your legs and body as if you’re Mt. Everest.
• Playing Hide and Seek. Even when they hide in the same spot over and over again, they find it shocking and hilarious every time you find them!
• Letting them have colorful, sugar-free popsicles so they feel like they’re having a special, naughty treat. Kids and pops: It’s a no-brainer.
• Saying yes to something that you usually say no to.
• Holding the kids’ hands and alternating between taking huge, stomping steps and tiny, little mouse-like ones.
• Putting “ears” on everyone—with or without imaginative play. Seriously, try to keep a straight face in a pair of antlers while your kids are wearing Minnie Mouse and cat ears.
Some of these things literally take less than a minute, but they’re the little things that create the big memories. They’re the things our kids will flash back to when they think of their childhoods. They’re the moments that will make them feel all warm and fuzzy, even when they’re adults. They’re the anchors that will root them to you and your family.
So, back to our day of dance parties. We had the time of our lives—literally, actually. “I Had the Time of My Life” came on, and this ’80s mom got to teach her kids some serious pop-culture history while she danced her tush off and smiled until her face hurt.
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