I sat on the ledge of the pool, with my feet dangling in the cool water. I wasn’t alone. I was accompanied by an army of other moms.
We all wore our uniform of one-piece swimsuits, hats over our unwashed hair, and oversized sun glasses.
Small-talk filled up the time in between lathering our kids in sunscreen, grabbing fruit snacks out of our bags, and laying out towels to dry.
If I am being honest, this is not how I pictured “family fun time”. I want to be splashing in the pool with my family. I want to be having an underwater tea-party with my daughter. I would love to do a cannonball contest with my son.
As mothers, why do we feel that we must be the planners, cookers, cleaners, and chauffers of family fun time, instead of being an active participant?
Self-appointed Fun Director
I can sense this impending feeling of regret looming around the corner -regret that I didn’t enjoy my kids to the fullest when they were young.
When my children grow older and replay their memories in their minds, I want to be remembered as a leading role – not the director or producer.
I am not the only mom sitting on the edge of the pool; therefore, I can’t be the only one who feels like they are more of a fun coordinator instead of a family member.
To change roles, you have to understand these 5 reasons why mothers commonly feel held back from engaging in family fun.
1) Our expectations are too high
There will always be competing obligations in life.
Have you found yourself telling your children you will play with them after you quickly do the dishes, and then make a quick phone call?
If you want to bond with your kids, you have to learn to lower your expectations.
Let the mess sit. Trust me, it isn’t going anywhere.
2) Petty stuff gets in the way
Often petty, unimportant things get in the way of family fun.
When my son asked me at a local water park to dive in with him, my instant answer was “No”. My mascara would run down my face, and I already straightened my hair that morning.
Even as a low maintenance mom, these silly thoughts were holding me back from engaging with my kids.
Kick the petty thoughts to the curb, and get a little messy.
3) We focus too much on unimportant details
The need to create pinterest-inspired memories haunts many modern mothers.
The fact is, these perfect details take time. Loads of time. Time that busy moms just do not have.
Your kids won’t remember that your house smelled of fresh cinnamon, as they ate homemade pumpkin cookies and painted leaves on canvases.
Cut back on the unnecessary, time-consuming details if it will give you more time to participate.
4) We feel selfish when we step out of the mothering role
Recently, I was painting with my kids. I decided that I would try out my fifth-grade level art skills and paint a beach scene.
I reached over and took the blue paint off of my son to color the ocean. The act of taking my son’s paint from him instantly gave me a pang of guilt in my stomach.
Shouldn’t I be rinsing off his used paint brushes, or at least asking if he needed a snack? This isn’t the first time that the act of stepping out of my “mom role” (even for just a moment) made me feel selfish.
As parent, we need to remind ourselves that this silly guilt is irrelevant. Our kids want us to be part of their daily lives.
5) We aren’t looking at the big picture
To keep it simple, here is the big picture:
Your family wants you.
That is it. They don’t want fancy, holiday-themed snacks or a waitress for a mother. Nor do they need a perfectly orchestrated activities.
Make it a priority to engage in family fun, not just plan it – cook for it – and clean up after it.
So, get up. Take a step away from other bystander moms, and do a huge cannonball in that swimming pool.
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Friday 26th of March 2021
[…] How to Be the Mom Who Engages in Family Fun […]
Mary Lou Johnson
Saturday 24th of October 2020
Thank you for your post. Your points of having fun is so valuable. I was the director of a large preschool, and moms often said "I find it hard to enjoy playing with my children". From first hand experience, as the oldest of nine, as a child I mostly help my mother. I never participated in play. I can set it up, though to sit and enjoy playing is much harder. So, sometimes we have to dig a little deeper and figure out why it doesn't come easy to play. Thank you for your excellent information.
Wednesday 14th of October 2020
This is such a great reminder. I'm terrible about letting the planning kill the fun.
Wednesday 14th of October 2020
This is such a great perspective because sometimes mothers tend to be too hard on themselves and feel like they need to be the one to do everything and I agree that what's more important is being there for your family. You can also have fun and play with the kids because that's what they will remember when they look back in their childhood.
Tuesday 13th of October 2020
I'm not a mom, but I definitely appreciate this post about how we need to spend more time with our families and less time thinking about the dirty dishes or makeup. It's important to keep things in perspective and make sure we're having fun too!