I have been waiting a long time to write this post for you. Even before I had my son, I imagined myself to be a fun mom. A mother who was playful, joyous and calm always.
Ummm, then I actually became a mother. And as they say, its easier parenting imaginary kids than your real kids.
FIRST STEPS TO BEING A FUN PARENT: HOW TO BE A HAPPY MOM?
Well, long story short, I was swamped with the responsibilities that came along with motherhood, and solo parenting (my husband travels extensively for work, sometimes up to 20-22 days a month).
I was losing my own joy and had nothing to offer my child in the joy department.
Besides meeting our basic needs I really didn’t have much energy left in me to be fun. Not that I was a grumpy cribby woman, I was quieter and resigned to life sort of character. I definitely did not enjoy this change in me. Anyone who knows me knows me as an energetic and optimistic person, one who is always smiling even through the most difficult situations.
After a little bit of introspection, I realized that my mother, grandmothers, and other friends with kids didn’t really talk about the struggles of motherhood. It would have been nice if the motherhood challenges were shared and motherhood was not always portrayed as a beautiful and serene experience.
It doesn’t always look pretty, it gets lonely sometimes and is one of the most physically and emotionally demanding jobs there is. Unfortunately, the elders in my family did not highlight these struggles and challenges, and I felt unprepared and overwhelmed in motherhood.
Once I accepted, Yes, Motherhood is hard, I found some closure and could move on from there to do what I truly wanted for our son.
I wanted to give him a sunshine childhood, enjoy motherhood and most of all I wanted our family to have good memories of his growing up years.
I wanted to be a Fun Mom.
As mentioned above, it takes a little bit of a perspective change to be a more joyful parent. I have already spoken on this blog about what I did for myself to overcome feeling lost in motherhood and take care of myself too.
Do read these posts if this is how motherhood feels for you too. It’s okay, to be honest, we love our children, but we have to work on ourselves in order to give them the loving family they deserve.
HOW TO BE A FUN MOM AND REALLY CONNECT WITH YOUR KIDS
Go back to your childhood
One thing I always do is remember the little girl in me. So many things our children do are the same as what we did as little kids, yet we are unforgiving of their playful mischief.
It’s good to be forgiving of some of the messes, and playful explorations and instead use these moments to shape our conversations with our kids.
Another thing I like to do is go back to what I did as a little girl, sometimes incorporating my own favorite childhood fun memories in my time with my son.
I have a favorite memory from time spent with my grandfather at our village home. After every visit to the beach, he took us out for ice cream. This was a special place special treat type of thing.
My son has a favorite park a little distance from our home. It’s not our everyday park. So we make the trip special for him. After each visit there, we buy fresh coconut water from the vendor outside the park (coconuts are his favorite food).
This has quickly become our special thing to do when we go to this park. He really looks forward to going there, knowing mommy will buy him coconut water when returning home.
Enjoy the moment
Many times something magical is happening in the moment and we are stressing about the routine, or maybe not even looking at our child. We have our eyes glued to our mobiles and miss these tiny magical moments.
When you are giving one on one time to your child keep all distractions away. No looking at the phone, no thinking about what is next in the routine.
Look at your child, really observe them, make eye contact, smile, and talk to them.
Sounds simple, but many of us don’t do these simple things when spending time with our child. We are all busy capturing the moment on a phone rather than through our eyes.
And your child notices undivided attention, believe me, that’s what his heart craves.
In our home, I spend early mornings simply playing with our son. I really enjoy our time together. The temptation to document something he does is always there, but I am getting much better at not using screens when he is around me. And my son definitely notices when I am giving him one on one undivided attention.
Change the routine sometimes
This one is for all of us who love to follow the routine. In our home, the routine is really important, especially on days I solo parent. It helps me get our son to bed on time and gives me the much needed time I need to unwind.
Last year though, I started occasionally surprising my son with something new added to the routine. He loved this so much, he even said to me, “Mom, you are fun!”
We do breakfast pancakes for dinner sometimes, an out of the blue no reason cupcake when we are out shopping together, or surprise homemade cookies, impromptu singing, and dancing. Some unexpected twists to the daily routine add more fun to the day.
Really, you have to be silly too. It’s fun cracking up with laughter on toddler jokes. Make funny faces, share animated stories with each other, try knock-knock jokes and of course every child’s favorite game, Peekaboo.
Sing your toddler’s favorite nursery rhymes really loud and get them to shake a leg with you.
Be silly and have fun.
Play with your child
Play with your child, not just instruct him on how to play. Get involved in his games and really play with him the way he wants you to.
So many of us plan elaborate learning-based activities but we forget about simple childhood games. One on one time together does not mean time spent in learning activities, though, those are nice too. But all your child wants is your attention and some time.
Go out and play cricket and football with your kid. Set up a teepee tent and play some child-led pretend play games.
Just have good old fashioned play-based fun.
The type of games we played as kids with our parents, it doesn’t have to be all about the activities and learning all the time.
Believe me, you will have your child’s heart when you relax and just let him lead you into his imaginary pretend play world.
Try to find magic in the mundane
You cannot possibly make every day exciting for your kids. And having a daily routine is important both for you and your kids. But this does not mean you cannot find the fun in every day.
Children love having secrets and finding magical things. They have an active imagination and love to fantasize about make-believe. Essentially they are dreaming and learning to create through such activities.
I encourage finding magic every day. In our attempt to raise independent and logical little kids we don’t want them to lose their imagination and creativity, do we?.
We do simple things at the toddler stage in our home, but our genuine enthusiasm and happy tone are easy to catch on to.
Regular meals get special names- the daily oats porridge is given the name ‘apple cinnamon dash’. Making a regular meal sound like something special.
We play a game where we pass secret messages to each other and share some giggles when the message gets messed up.
We are also building a memory box with memories from each of his birthdays. Something for him to treasure and reminisce about as he grows.
Every time we go for a drive, we decide on what we are going to look for. “Let’s look for red diggers and yellow cranes ” or “Let’s see how many white umbrellas we find” on a rainy day. The excitement your child feels when he spots what you are looking for is priceless!
Sometimes we lay out a favorite fruit, something he has been requesting for a while (in our home that’s blueberries) in a corner of the kitchen, where we know he will find it. He gets so excited on finding his favorite fruit, he quickly guesses, “How did you know I wanted this?”
So get creative, put on your magic thinking hats and find the magic in the mundane.
Let them make a mess
Mess equals fun. The mess is good for development. I know you are going to say, “But I am the one cleaning up after!!”.
I recommend you read my post on why it is important for a child to eat messily. The same logic applies to make a mess while playing too, its great for sensory development.
We try to keep rules during play to a minimum, there is no right way to play with something. Every way is the right way. You will be surprised at how creative your kids are when there is less interference from your side on how to play.
One way I take care of messes is to section off an area for my toddler to play that’s safe and easy to clean after. Sometimes I recruit his help too, which he happily does. Ting! Points scored on the being a cool and fun mom.
Cook with your kids
There is no better way to bond with your kids than get together and cook something fun. For toddlers, you can try flameless recipes, and for older kids, you can start with recipes that require easy cooking skills like boiling an egg and then building an egg sandwich or cooking rice and building burritos.
Cooking with kids also encourages them to try what they eat, the perfect trick to use on picky eaters. To know more about the benefits of cooking with kids read my post on tips and tricks to cooking with kids.
Dance with your kids
Put on music, let your hair down and just dance. There is nothing more fun than dancing with your kids. Younger kids even take a liking to your music so there is no need to dance on the title track of Frozen every day.
Dancing shows your kids how you have a good time and both of you can learn some new moves while you are at it. Maybe even have a dance battle!
Have a movie day/night
Sunday afternoons is movie time with our son. I use this opportunity to sit back and enjoy some of my favorite movies with him. We make us some snacks, pull down the curtains and really get into movie mode. He loves loves loves having a movie day with us.
Movie day is a great opportunity for parents to select some classic movies or maybe even fun educational ones that you can talk about and discuss later.
Kids need to see how their parents relax and enjoy too. Family comedy movies are the best genre of movie to watch with little kids.
Some of our favorite family movies are;
I really loved this blog post on fun things to do with kids, so many wonderful ideas all packed into one post. Go ahead take a peak and jot down a few fun ideas for you to try at home.
How do you have fun with your kids? Do you have a special ritual or secret trick to connect with your kids deeply? Leave us a comment below on what you do to be a fun mom.