7 Truths That Make Parenting More Fun

Here’s the question I received:  “Does being a mom ever get fun?  My friend and I both have an infant and a toddler, and it’s so hard.  Please tell us the truth.”

Sometimes being a mom sucks a giant butthole.  There – I said it for all of us.  Now let’s exhale together and know we’re awesome moms who love our children.

Other times, being a mom is really amazing and fun.

Here are seven truths that have made it more fun for me.

Disclaimer:  I am neither a doctor, nor an expert, and I have read exactly zero parenting books because they make me more anxious and neurotic than I already am and it’s not cute.  My only qualification is this:  my daughter and I have successfully stumbled through Infantland and Toddlerville together, we’re both pretty happy, and we have a lot of fun together.

Truth #1:  Children do not become fun at some magical age or stage.  We do.  When we keep in mind who we were when we started.

Becoming a mother changes our identity in a real way.  It can’t not.  The free-spirited girl who used to jump in the car to go see the sunset in New Mexico now has a stroller, a baby carrier with a tiny human in it, and diaper bag full of what-have-I-done?.  The struggle is real.  The new uber-responsible person in us takes over and starts running the show.  This is good because that lady is the one who keeps the baby safe.  It’s bad because our original self gets pushed aside until further notice.  To have fun with our kids, our pre-baby selves need to continue to exist.  They’re the ones who insist we eat ice cream for dinner, clean up the messes later, and look into our children’s eyes with curiosity instead of fear.  She knows how to have fun.  If you haven’t seen her lately, invite her back into your life.

Truth #2:  If you’re not having fun with your little ones, you might just be out of practice.

Having a baby is a very grown-up thing to do.  We take it very seriously, as we should.  Likewise, having a child probably means you’re doing other grown-up things, too, like working, maintaining a home, managing finances, and trying to navigate a primary relationship without going to prison for murder.  It’s not your fault you’re not skipping through the house finger-painting the walls with cake frosting.  We’re steadily taught to move away from fun, and toward being responsible and mature long before we even have kids.  It’s not only encouraged once we turn 18, it’s expected by most of the people around us, especially if we’re parents.  The Serious Train has been barreling down the tracks for decades.  Please pull the brake and share the track.  The Fun Train needs to leave the station.  It’s okay to paint the walls with frosting.  It wipes off with warm water and a sponge.

Truth #3:  You will make mistakes.  There will be witnesses for the really embarrassing ones.  Trust yourself anyway.

It’s normal to spend a lot of time trying to make all the right decisions, following the latest trends, and comparing ourselves to other parents.  The trouble is it’s really stressful and sometimes unproductive.  It’s easy to feel like you’re consistently coming up short.  No bueno, no fun.  Please resist the urge to look at any other mom and think she has it all together.  She doesn’t.  She never will.  And neither will you.  Yay!  So liberating, no?  Keep your eyes on your own offspring.  Children need love, nutrition and sleep.  Trust yourself.  You’ve got this.

Truth #4:  When you’re honest, other people are honest, and everyone’s happier.

When people ask you how you’re doing, it’s okay to say, “this sucks a giant butthole” if that’s how you’re feeling that day.  The person will usually reply in one of two ways:

1)  “Totally been there.  It’ll pass.  I’ll help you escape through a tunnel of ice cream and wine.”

OR

2)  “Oh my gahhhhhd me tooooo!  Thank you so much for saying that!!!!”

Either way, you’ll get the support you need, and that person will love you for saying “butthole” with a straight face.  Kumbaya.

It’s helpful to remind each other that one glorious day all the humans in your house will be able to speak the language, feed themselves, and poop in a toilet.  For older children you can replace that with:  stop slamming doors, rolling their eyes, and believing they know everything.

Truth #5:  Laughter is the best medicine….Unless you have postpartum depression.

Children of all ages can be frustrating, annoying, and have a sixth sense for the worst timing eh-ver, but they also offer some pretty outstanding comedy gems.  Por ejemplo:  diaperless volcanic poop scenarios, magic markers in butt cracks, and questions about Easter that involve bunny sex and cat tampons.  However, if you’re spending more time crying than laughing, you may want to take this quiz.  Postpartum depression can be a very subtle thing, right up until it’s not.  I had it myself.  It’s almost impossible to have any fun when you’re suffering from depression of any kind.  If you have any concerns about this, please call your doctor.

Truth #6:  Give yourself a break.

There’s a reason people work five days out of seven, and that half-time, intermission, and recess exist.  People lose their minds without breaks.  Please make sure you’re taking breaks from parenting.  If you have a co-parent in the house, walk out the door at least once a week and do whatever recharges you.  If you’re a single parent, buddy up with another single parent and trade days once a week so you each get a few hours to yourselves.  It’s free and includes a built-in playdate – win!  Everything is more fun when you have a chance to step away, regroup, and come back refreshed.  Pro tip:  when people ask what you would like for ANY holiday, please ask for things for YOU only:  massage, manicure, pedicure, facial, maid service, food delivery service, babysitting etc.  Being a parent is HARD.  It’s okay to take a break.

Truth #7:  Fun can be free and easy, or expensive and overwhelming.  Free and easy is better.

If you’re a Martha Stewart-ish mom who loves crafts and 47-step cupcakes, and also has unlimited space, cash and a team of nannies, I kind of want to punch you in the tit, but good for you.  I’m not talking to you.  Please go away and have expensive fun with your monogrammed children.  For the rest of us, here is how to have fun for free in a limited space with no planning and very little clean-up.

My memory sucks from infant to 3yo because I slept a total of 47 hours during that time, but these other people have some great ideas:  20 fun and silly games to play with your baby, and 50 activities you can do with your toddler.

I can personally help you in the 4yo – 10yo range:

Practice your handstands and cartwheels.

Let them do your make-up and/or paint your nails.

Make ice cream with snow – you can make multiple flavors with one batch using chocolate syrup, strawberries, bananas, etc.

Jump on the bed, or do flips onto the bed.  Don’t believe me?  Please see absurd video.

Hang from the rafters.  I’m serious.

Go to the playground and accept every challenge issued.

Swing as high as you can on the swings.

Have a hula hoop contest.

Push all the furniture against the walls, turn on the music as loud as it will go, and dance until one of you drops.

Ask them to teach you how to draw their favorite ______.  Follow their instructions exactly.

Have a blind taste test with all the liquids in the refrigerator.  Let them run the show.

Make a candy smoothie using all the ice cream toppings and candy in the pantry.

Go explore any creek.  Get your shoes wet, and your hands dirty.

Invite them to wash the family pet(s).  Let them get into the bathtub (with clothes on for hygiene and because they think it’s the best thing ever) and let them do all the washing and rinsing.

Go for a walk in the neighborhood and make up stories about the trees, birds, cars passing by, anything you see.

Write a story together.  Take turns saying the next sentence.  Make it as outlandish as possible.  Write them down so you can laugh at them again later.

So, to answer the original question, yes parenting gets fun.  It’s not ALWAYS fun, but it’s a lot MORE fun if you remember to be your whole self, know you’re enough, be honest, ask for help, and act really immature as often as possible.

Do you have some other Mom or Dad truths you can share with us?  Any fun and free activities for boys?  If you don’t have children, did this post scar you?  I’m sorry.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. NotAPunkRocker says:

    I used to say I was glad I had a boy because it was more fun to play in the mud with Tonka trucks and Matchbox cars than “girly” things. Now, I realize he may have asked to do that instead, or a girl can have just as much fun in the mud, so I am just glad that HE liked that.

    Fishing was a huge thing with him, as was going out in the rain.

    • Good for you playing with Tonka trucks in the mud! I’m not sure I’d be game for that. Maybe. I do love to fish, though. Mainly to clean them because I’m gross like that haha. Anna swears she’s a tomboy, which cracks me up when we’re building Barbie furniture with random household items : ) Thanks for chiming in!

  2. You totally nailed it! And if your child ends up having special needs, know that this is an extra learning curve for you that you will survive. Much fun can be had with cardboard boxes, a ball of string, and tape. I recommend Costco packages of tape if you end up with a son like mine. He loves nothing more than to take boxes and create any and everything with them: Titanic, various cars and boats, a Star Wars AT-ST (a box on two legs that has cannons), a house, and more.

    • Wow! That’s awesome! I want to see the cardboard Titanic : ) You know you’re my hero, but I’ll tell you again: you’re my hero!

      • Here’s a video of one of the Titanics Little Man has made over the years. http://youtu.be/6KvM106WEIE?list=UU0yAo30mVgMiIkkrGsQKl8w . There is another video up entitled Titanic In Tub. He also made Titanic from a big cardboard box, and I put rope shoulder straps on it. He stepped inside the thing and wore it. He had a black jacket with brass buttons and a kid’s captain’s hat. He was so obsessed with Titanic that I’m not sure if it was because of his brain structure: he tends to obsess on things, or if it was past life bleed through.

  3. Oh Molly you always make me laugh and give me hope. One of the greatest gifts I got from both of my parents was the clear proof that they liked me. I knew they loved me…but seeing how much they appreciated all the things that made me ME and not someone else was huge. I remember when I was in the third grade, shortly before school was going to be out for the summer I came home and asked my Mom if she was sad that school was going to be out and we (my brother and I) were going to be home all the time. She frowned and asked me why I was asking and I told her that a friend of mine had said her Mom hated summer because the kids were home all the time. My Mom smiled sadly and said, “Well that’s too bad for them. But I LOVE summertime best of all because I really like it when you’re home and we can do all the fun stuff every day.” So yes to everything you said. My Mom kept us busy with fun activities so we didn’t drive her batshit insane but she also knew how to have lots and lots of fun with us. Once of my happiest memories is once I learned to read Mom and I would make sandwiches for lunch and we’d sit silently eating and reading. Indulging in what would be a lifelong love for both of us…books, food and each other. 😉

    • Every time you talk about your mom I want to sit in her lap. Seriously. What an incredible woman, human, wife and mother. Is it too late for me to grow up and be her? No wonder you turned out to be such a super extra fabulous person! Miss you!!! XO

  4. This sounds about right. Parenting can be a whole big pile of suck sometimes. But you gotta make sure that sometimes doesn’t become always.

  5. Dance in the rain, make mud pies, climb up the slide and slide down the stairs, sled down a grassy hill on cardboard boxes, catch fireflies, collect leaves and glue them on paper, camp in the backyard, or glue pictures to paperboard then cut them up to make puzzles.
    I miss my kids. 😦 We have such fun together (except when we’re not). I just love sitting on the floor with them and being a kid too.

    • These are all fabulous ideas!!! Thanks for passing them along. Sometimes it feels like there isn’t enough time to have all the fun you want to before they grow up! Other times of course it feels like they’ll never grow up. Life, eh? Thanks for chiming in!

  6. Absolutely loved this post, Molly. It’s so easy to forget that “stepping up” into being a parent shouldn’t mean stepping away from yourself as a person. The image of being the perfect parent doesn’t benefit our children; being real people to them does — imperfection, silliness and acceptance are lessons they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. And I’m pretty sure seeing their mom punch Martha Stewart in the tits would stay with them a while, too. But mostly it’s the other stuff…

    • Thanks Ned!!! You’re such an inspiration to me. Even after you make very serious comments like this one (obviously I totally agree with you on all those points), you always make me laugh out loud at the end. You’re the best!!!

  7. I have got to say that I have enjoyed ever single age my kids have been. They are 16 and 17 now. At almost every age there was something magical to me. Something new and exciting. Right now I am enjoying that they have become people with real thoughts and ideas. They are amazing!! They have a good moral compass and the genuine. But I loved them when they were two and discovered new words. I loved them when they were five and learning to ride a bike, I disliked when they started school. I loved when they were 10 and started having such personality in their clothes and shoes. I loved when they were 12 and we would have very adult conversations and they told me how they felt. I really liked that they felt comfortable enough to tell me. I would have talked to my mom. I love that my daughter calls me moo moo when she wants something.
    My son will go to college in the fall and there is part of me that is so proud of him and a huge part that will miss him.
    What I don’t like about parenting:
    1. God gave us these huge miracles to raise to be good people. And it only takes 18 years. 18 years is the blink of an eye. It is too fast. They grow up soo fast, I wish I would have understood when they were 2 how temporary that age was. How much I should hold their hands as much as they would let me.
    2. I wish I would have let my husband help more. I was the nurturer and he was the bread winner. I enjoyed those roles a lot. I didn’t want nor did I need help when they were younger. But I did no one a favor with that attitude. My kids needed that with their dad too. And now their relationship isn’t as close as I would like it to be.
    3. People judge your decisions too much. I choose to stay home with my kids, and I don’t regret one second of that. I choose to rock my children all night long. I wouldn’t change that. I choose some out of the boxes things with my kids that were amazing but at the time other people thought were odd. I would bring my son to preschool and stay. They weren’t paying me but I wanted to see how he interacted, played, and learned. I was judged for that. I felt judged a lot. I should have not given a poo poo about that. But I always defended my decisions when I didn’t need to.
    4. Did I tell you yet that it flies by… and while it may seem overwhelming right now… I understand. My kids were 11 months apart. Seriously, only 11 months apart. There were some really hard times in there. But I look back and smile!
    5. There aren’t enough pictures in the world. Once they are three they are never two again.

    I have rambled on enough here… but even though it is stressful. Take a breathier… they will grow up and move on and you will miss this.

    • This is such a sweet tribute to your children, and wow you are quite a mom! I respect everything you said here. All great advice I’m sure others will find helpful, too. My favorite line is: love that my daughter calls me moo moo when she wants something. So precious. It does go by so fast. I wrote a post on that very thing called: Go Ahead and Lie : ) Thanks for chiming in!

  8. I found ages 0-5 to be extraordinarily difficult. It never got the point where I thought of bailing out (some guys do that) but, man, it was tough. I don’t think that men are hardwired to deal with babies/infants. Maybe that’s sexist to say but, whatever. Now that my daughters are a little older I find it tremendously gratifying. I have quasi-adult conversations with my 13-year old. My 8-year old asks interesting questions. To all those with newborns: Hang in there. It gets so much better.

    • Apparently I’m a dude with boobs because I wasn’t hardwired for 0-5 either haha! I totally agree with you – everything after 5yo is awesome! You’re a good man for not bailing while it was tough : )

      • But do you know in polite society you are never, EVER supposed to say anything bad about babies or parenting? It makes you a bad person. And if you’re a woman… forget it. You can’t even THINK those thoughts. But the truth is a lot of it is bloody unpleasant. Goodbye to freedom, etc., etc.

      • Yes I am well aware, but fuck it. The truth is the truth. I’m still here getting it done mom style!

      • OH yeah…I do not have the baby-love thing. Never have. Not even when I was a kid. They can’t read, they can’t talk and they are no where near as cute as puppies…so I don’t get it. Now my husband on the other hand…good lord that man is the Baby Whisperer. Which is HYSTERICAL considering that he looks like a giant Mexican biker axe murderer…when he’s not smiling and flirting with babies. Babies KNOW he’s their whisperer because no matter where we are if there is a baby it will zoom in on him and they will giggle and wave and blow kisses to him across any restaurant. We chose to not have kids and yes, that often confuses the every lovin’ hell out of people, but if we had had them he would have been in charge of the infant/baby years.

  9. I want this entire post on a T-shirt. Is that too much to ask? 🙂

    srsly, amazing post, Molly. You are spot-on, as usual.

  10. Great tips. My biggest fear is that I’ll somehow end up dropping or breaking the baby, seeing how I’m clumsy enough to injure myself on a pretty consistent basis. If I manage to not accidentally murder my future kids, I should be fine.

  11. I don’t have kids, but I think this goes for life too. I’m going to try it 🙂

  12. Cheers to forever playing lego and going to kids movies!

  13. Nice post ! Parenting is much like everything else in life, boils down to mindset and attitude !

    Lol 47 step cupcakes and monogrammed children … Gave me the giggles, thank you 🙂

  14. Gorgeous post! So true that the feeling of fun stems from us. It’s taken me a long time to realise that I need to feel fulfilled and happy to BE fun and to HAVE fun… and that that is important. Still working on it! Lovely looking blog by the way, and funny intelligent style – look forward to reading more! xx

  15. Why don’t you post anymore? It’s not like blogland is choked with good writers. It’s not. Happy holidays. Come back in 2015.

  16. The mothers come to watch their kids
    run and jump and fall
    Thirty six people play here in the skids
    at the local, once-popular mall.

    Korean, English, Spanish, Japanese
    hit curious ear, no one is here to shop.
    Community centers replaced, if you please
    by climbable fiberglass props.

    But it’s warm in here and playing is free
    so this little alcove is packed.
    Awestruck merchants stand, others properly grieve:
    the hole in the dam has just cracked.

    Kids don’t understand, but pack up the van
    to move in with great auntie Betty.
    A beautiful Persian talks to her son as a man.
    Barriers disappear, a new village springs up, ready.

    • I’m not sure what this means but I like it. Thanks for chiming in : )

      • It means in some cases race and language barriers comedown,and when they do, instead of having tea of it,actual villages of sanity pop up. I know of two in North Carolina: Chapel Hill Carrboro (BMW hippies and real hippies and openness) and Asheville,which has a conservative government,but is a village of creative problem solvers..

  17. First timer here (be gentle) 🙂
    I enjoyed this post because it’s so true. Sometimes, being a mom does suck a butthole but, we are human and no one has this completely figured out because each and every child is different. And it is great when you can enjoy who your children are and who they’re becoming because they are amazing little beings.

  18. I just stumbled across this post, and I soooo needed to read this today. I need to rev up my Fun Train, and we have frosting in this house right now.
    Great writing, too.

  19. I’m sure kids can drive you batshit crazy, but it’s one of the things in life I look forward to the most. And after reading this post I am infinitely more excited for that phase of my life ^_^ ❤

  20. dorisrussell2001 says:

    I loved this It was so true I am following you

Talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: