Recently, I celebrated a big birthday so family and friends extended the celebrations appropriately. I returned home from one outing with girlfriends and proudly displayed my bright, orange, latte mug. Painted across the front is BFF: Brilliant, Fun-Loving Friend. My 13-year-old daughter piped up, “Do you really consider yourself fun loving?” Ouch.
Her comment burrowed into my mind not for its apparent hurtfulness, but for its potential truth. I had to ask myself, “Am I less fun-loving now that I am a mom?” Probably. Do my children see me only as the responsible, serious woman who manages their lives and schedules? I am afraid to ask.
It is challenging for busy, exhausted moms to remember or find the energy to have fun in addition to planning everyone else’s bliss. Here are some suggestions to inject more fun into your life.
- Give yourself permission to get excited about something, anything, and tell someone. It can be as simple as that new book you are itching to open. According to Christiane Northrup, MD, when we share what makes us feel good and excited, it reinforces the joy connections in our brains.
- Dance as if no one is watching. Our bodies are made to move and dancing will lift your mood. Hence the immense popularity of Zumba. If you need motivation, dance with Ellen during the opening of her show. Or crank up the tunes and shake things up.
- Get dirty. It is freeing and you will feel like a child again. I love to ride my bike on muddy trails and embrace that shocking, cold, first splash. Now that you are the grown up, no one can complain about the mess you make.
- Laugh until your belly aches. Watching funny movies or sitcoms is an obvious way to exercise your humor muscles. But a visit to a great card shop also can provide a chuckle. Buy a few cards to send to friends for that shared joy experience or keep them on your bulletin board as a smile starter.
- Sing loudly and with gusto. If your ability to carry a tune is as poor as mine, use the shower or time alone in the car to belt out tunes that you love. Imagine yourself as the child who sang into her hairbrush with no restraint.
- Bask in baking. I’m talking about cooking for fun, not the rushed get something on table in time for dinner cooking. Think sumptuous and decadent. Tackle it on a day when someone else is in charge of meals. Invite your spouse or a friend to join you but only if that would add to your fun.
- Go to a local art gallery and let the color and beauty stimulate and awaken your creative senses. If it sparks a desire to draw or paint, nourish this at home with some simple supplies or go all out and sign up for a class. There’s room on the fridge for more than just the kids’ artwork.
- Open your mind to increased daily fun by creating a personal and family bucket list. In Family Bucket Lists, Lara Krupicka says “behind every bucket list wish resides the inspiration to make everyday life more adventurous.”
- Embrace technology. Install a daily humor app. Watch the latest funny videos on YouTube. If you do not know where to look, ask your kids. Set reminders in your phone so that you remember to take fun breaks.
- Become someone else. Playing dress up never gets old. Invite some moms and daughters over for a princess tea party. Make a trip to the local thrift shop and look for the most outrageous bridesmaid’s dress to wear. Hosting a Murder Mystery Dinner is another opportunity to get into a character and costume.
- Host a games night for grown ups. When choosing games, consider ones that involve larger groups and force people out of their comfort zones. Guesstures, Catch Phrase and 5 Second Rule are so much fun you may not care who wins.
- Hang with friends. When our lives become busy, friends sometimes fall off the list. Plan and schedule regular girl time with your pals. If it’s on the calendar, it’s more likely to happen. Consider starting a monthly gathering with the simple goal of having fun.
- Take yourself on an Artist Date (coined by author Julia Cameron). The Artist Date is a solo weekly outing anywhere that interests you. Cameron stresses that the outing must be fun. Think a sense of play.
- Exercise your smile muscles. The simple act of smiling triggers feel good hormones. It can alter your mood and improve the mood of those you greet with a smile. Once your brain is bathed in feel good hormones you will more easily spot opportunities for fun. And you will be more fun to be around.
- Play board games as a family. Choose games that evolve into laughter such as Anomie or games that increase your understanding of each other such as The Game of Things or Apple to Apples. These are great ways to indulge your sense of play and show your fun side to the family.
- Watch your children play. What can you learn from them? Join them on a swing and see the world from a new perspective. How about go-kart racing? Why should kids have all the fun?
- Look into the past. Is there an activity you dreamed of doing as a child but for whatever reason it never happened? Think about how much fun it could be to tackle that goal now. You are never too old to learn something new. Or maybe there is something you loved to do but you no longer participate in that activity. Try it again to see if it still fuels your passion.
- Go solo. Is there an activity you enjoy but no one shares your enthusiasm? Maybe that movie you want to see but has other family members rolling their eyes. My family does not share my love of kayaking so I started going alone. I wave good-bye as I grab my PFD and head out. They know they are welcome to join and have even asked to come along a few times.
- Do something that scares you. The adrenaline rush will wake up all your senses. How about zip lining or rock climbing at a local gym? A scary ride at the amusement park? Feel free to yell as loudly as you must throughout the ride.
Sue LeBreton is a health and wellness journalist and a fun mom of a tween boy and a teenage girl.