I know, I know, you aren't the playing parent. You might get anxious even thinking about playing for any extended periods with dinosaurs or baby dolls. Perhaps your other half is the more fun parent, the one that gets out there and gets dirty. My husband is always helping construct forts, sand castles or toboggan runs. But someone has to get dinner ready, am I right?
I get it. I am kind of that parent too, except I am not. I am fun. I like fun. I just don't allow myself to prioritize it enough.
How do you make the time with competing demands? First, try and ignore that voice that reminds you you are drowning in deadlines or alerts you to feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable about getting silly as an adult. Live in the moment. What can you let go of now? What “should's” aren't that important in this minute?
Second, remind yourself of the benefits you will experience. Think of the last time you had a silly and rewarding time. Remember your child's smile as you agreed to get down on the carpet to play. Think Merry Go Round's you had to assist your child onto and ended up enjoying yourself. Reflect on the board game nights that had the whole family laughing. That time your partner's silly antics made you cry with laughter. These are the memory makers. We often play on vacation, why only then? Play connects us to ourselves and to others. We need more of this, don't we?
I wrote recently that I am bringing silly back into my life and the many great reasons to do this. Having a laugh, a smile and connection is good for you. How often do we tell our kids to get off the screen and get outside...TO PLAY. Why? Because it is good for them. So step away from the screen or phone and engage and connect with your kids, act silly with a friend, or do something terribly un-serious and very fun on your own. Play, silly and fun isn't just for kids!
Here are a few ideas that could get you started:
I read a very interesting article this week on a woman's experience being sober and how much is marketed to her as a woman to drink to fit in, to be or have fun, to deal with life or to lighten up. A big takeaway for me was the idea presented of alcohol being the only vehicle with which many of us give ourselves permission to unwind and have a little fun. This is not necessary. It is 10:23 a.m., quite appropriately I have no drink, there are no kids at home and I think I will do that handstand. I know it will bring a welcome smile to my face. I wish the same for you!
Being the adultier adult has some pretty un-fun bits to it, and it is important to find the fun. When the negative outweighs the positive in your life, something has to change. Perhaps your interactions with your husband are at an unfortunate ratio of 40 negative interactions to 15 positive ones; this is not a happy balance. I can feel it when my ratio is off with my husband, children, or even life in general. These are times when there is too much work and too little play.
John Gottman says that balance theory of relationships can predict the likelihood of divorce. This is done with the magic ratio - a stable relationship has 5 times as many positive interactions between partners as negative ones. If you want to increase the positive, consider increasing the fun.
There is something magical when I truly pursue silly fun, like when I jump on the back of the toboggan with my kids, sing in the car, laugh at nothing with my toddler, and dance in the living room with abandon. In these times, I let myself relax and get lost in the moment. It's rejuvenating for the soul.
I love this New York Times article by Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled, that talks about making sure your holidays are times of play which to produce happiness and refreshment rather than booking vacations that are exhausting and over extended with things we think we should do. Play, fun, and being silly is important to our wellness and our relationships.
I have written about this before, but the strategy of lightening up in stressful situations is a parenting gem. It makes you feel better and your kids feel better. So when you are struggling to keep it all together, bring in some silly! It really helps.
Instead of losing your cool on the sixth time you requested something of your children, sing it to them. Teenagers? All the better! To avoid the embarrassment of you breaking into song, they might just snap to on the first request next time.
And for goodness sake, let them be silly. I get that silly can start to grate on your nerves when you are running late for hockey, but make sure it is a part of your day and at the minimum, your week. Schedule it in... serve worms for dessert, greet Daddy with a Nerf attack when he gets home, plan after-school fun. Spread the sunshine, and let kids be kids! They have enough structure and unfun in their day.
Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans. It's lovely to be silly at the right moment. —Horace
I have also decided that silly is the new sexy. Who doesn't completely crush on the celebrities that can let loose and have fun? I am looking at you, Jimmy Fallon, or the dynamic Dax and Kristen. Even in the bedroom, silly can be fun. Yes, sex can be fabulous when it is serious, connected, or just plain hot, but sometimes when you are exhausted intensity, good or bad, can feel overwhelming. Parenting is an exhausting time. So have fun with sex and have a laugh.
Silly can also be fun for flirting. My good friend has come across a little gem for her relationship, and believe it or not, it is in emojis. She's never been a big user of this form of communication, but she was tired, had a two week old baby and found her relationship with her partner a struggle as they transitioned from one kid to two. She was looking for something to put a little cheer in their communication, and she has found it. Instead of the more familiar short or snappish texts and his short or snappish response, she is adding a series of happy fun hieroglyphics in the form of small unicorns, dancing babies, rainbows and beer mugs. Her partner is responding positively, and she is even getting cheery phone calls. There are lots of sexy emojis, but so far, the unicorn is the favourite.
'Have fun' is my message. You are allowed to be silly. There's nothing wrong with it. —Jimmy Fallon
I have a fairly serious job as a therapist, although I have definitely had some great laughs with clients. I am also a chauffeur, a cook, cleaner, and a whole bunch of other more serious things. Playful is a big part of who I am, and when I am able to let go and have more fun, I feel much more connected to myself. Couldn't we all use more of this self connection?
Rachel Macy Stafford author of the soon to be released Only Love Today says in her book the Hands Free life , the most meaningful life experiences don’t happen in the “when,” they happen in the “now.” So let's get some more silly in our day... now.
"Do a loony-goony dance 'cross the kitchen floor, put something silly in the world that ain't been there before" —Shel Silverstein
Are we having fun yet?
RELATED: In Praise of Silly
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