Where’s the fun in your family’s life? You know, the fun. The time you spend together swapping stories, giggle-snorting over the funny parts of your day, or doing something you all love, together?
Yes, that fun.
Is it buried under a huge pile of unsigned permission slips, carpool schedules, and that pile of laundry?
Well, you are not alone.
Between the grocery shopping and the violin lessons and the visits to the vet, it’s so easy to forget the fun. F-U-N should be a priority in our family life — not just something you plan to do when everything else is mopped up, put away, and filed under done. Why? Because it turns out fun is not folly. It’s not just the extra sprinkles on the cake of life, it’s actually the rich stuff that holds us all together. As the old saying goes: Families who play together, stay together.
Not only are families who play together staying together, they are healthier, happier, and — get this — living longer. The prescription for fun isn’t just beneficial to your immediate family. Creating more fun in your family’s days now will positively impact your great grandkids, because we organically pass our behaviors on from generation to generation.
Research also shows that people who become happier intentionally — by doing things that make them happy — stay happier than people who simply stumble upon happiness. So if you are waiting for a visit from the Fun Fairy, it’s time to pick up your own wand and conjure it yourself.
How do you get started? When it comes to fun, easy-peasy is the way to go. If you make the road rocky, you’ll never make the steep climb. Here are some of my favorite tips for folding fun into everyday family life:
Look for Fun Twists
Find simple opportunities to spark new life into your family’s routine. That may mean having dinner under the dining room table or under the stars on the front porch tonight.
Trick Yourself into Putting Fun First
Pack the snacks before you grab the kids from school so you can eat on the way to a fantastic local afternoon outing and, more importantly, avoid stopping by the chore-pit, home. You might also want to try letting the kids invite friends on the outing you’ve been putting off so you’re on the hook for fun.
Don’t Save Up Fun for Special Occasions
Don’t wait for fun, hoarding it only for special occasions like vacations, summer break, and big holidays. When we do that we get rusty. We overthink it and when the special been-waiting-for-it-forever outing, party, or trip finally comes along, we suck the fun right out of it. Look for ways to squeeze in lots of fun every day by celebrating little occasions. That might mean throwing a full moon party when the sky is just right or celebrating Elvis’s birthday by dancing to the King’s greatest hits before dinner.
Keep Fun at the Ready
Set up places and opportunities for fun. Create “fun zones,” spaces specifically designated for good times (like an art room), at home. You can turn even the messiest part of your basement or a jam space in your garage into a fun zone. Keeping fun at the ready can also mean having props on hand like bubbles for a little one’s long walk to school, a bucket of crazy straws on the kitchen island for the next round of smoothies with friends, or sunglasses for your family’s next impromptu card game tournament.
Make Reading Fun with Friends and Family
Children just love being read to when they are little and having an audience makes the story even more exciting for them. When my girls were young, I always made books a part of their playdates. I specifically remember my daughter Grace when she was three or four happily chasing a friend through our family room where I was sitting on the couch. She stopped for a second and whispered to me, “Can you make sure you set us up with a story and a craft?”
Make reading even more fun for kids by choosing books that go with the season. For us, that meant books with ghosts arrived in October, groundhogs in February, and bunnies in spring. We also oftentimes incorporated a fun, inexpensive and easy-to-make craft after we read (think: a ghost made out of a hankie, a groundhog stuffed animal, or a paper plate bunny).
When your children are older consider starting a family book club to add some more fun into your lives. Just read the same book at the same time and celebrate the ending with a book party with snacks and activities that reflect the book, say lemon-based treats for a Lemony Snicket book.
Do you have any tips for making time for fun as a family? Let us know in the comments section below!