Are We Having Fun Yet?

As much as I complain about my Sweetheart's creative parenting, I wouldn’t change it (okay, maybe just one or two things, nothing major…sort of). As I was leaving for my Wednesday night out, I asked him to please keep the kids on a schedule-preferably the one used in our home. When I returned a few hours later I was delighted to see the five minute pick-up had been a success!

”Wow,” I said. “The place looks great, honey.” Stonefaced, he said, “We were cleaning up the galaxy.”

Aha, the secret. I soon saw how the space theme got things done. When I asked if they’d brushed their teeth, my son flashed his pearlies and said, “I had space bugs!”

When I commented on my other son’s neat Lego bracelet, he looked disgusted. It’s a Buzz Lightyear laser, Mom."

I stood corrected. Harnessing their hyperspace energy, my husband had accomplished what would’ve taken me a lot more time with my “chop-chop, let’s-get-it-done” mentality.

And they had fun in the process. Are we having fun yet? Can we say today, last week or last month that we had fun with our parenting? One of the “funnest” summers I can remember is when, with my two children then aged three and one, we had the Summer of Play. We just played. Everyday we went for a walk, sometimes two, pointing out trees, rocks, bugs, all the essentials. The kiddie pool was a staple, as were the smushy popsicles and warm towels later. The dollar theater showed quality movies for kids, and sometimes we splurged on movie meals. Just because. We spent time lying on the grass or telling stories at nap time. It was by far the most enjoyable, relaxed summer my kids and I have ever had.

Parenting has definite perks. All the things we said we’d do when we grew older are at our fingertips, but how often do we actually play/eat/stay up late for what we can do now? Valerie Bertinelli had a great response for a distraught woman with picky eaters who weren’t cleaning their plates, but still whined for dessert. She said, “Why does it have to be a rule to finish everything on your plate?” Do you? Kids won’t starve if they don’t finish their meals, and they don’t need dessert every night.”

Excellent advice! “Girlfriend,” I thought, “you have got to lighten up!” This isn’t throwing order to the wind. Establishing rules and routines are –as researchers note- essential to a child’s feelings of security. Knowing what’s coming makes children feel more in control, and less likely to be irritable, impatient, and all those I-words. But relaxing the rigidness makes the difference.

One summer noon a few days ago, all the kids said they weren’t hungry- until someone saw the ice cream. Suddenly, they had appetites.

On a whim I said, “Do you want dessert first?” They looked like they were about to faint. ”Alright!” I said, “I officially declare this Dessert first day!” And with that, we enjoyed. We savored, we sloshed, and we slurped ice cream as it should be slurped.

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