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.”
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.