The younger kids were in bed, and my older two were pottering around doing before-bed things. I was laying on my tummy, cushion under my chin with my computer under outstretched hands. My tween daughter walked past and paused.
“Why are you writing that?” she asked glancing at the title, “You ARE a fun mum!”
I explained how I was writing in the negative, but it really was a positive post.
The thing is, being fun is it’s NOT about trying really, really hard to be perfect. Being more fun with my kids has been somewhat a quest of mine over the last 9 years, and if there is something I have learned, it’s the importance of embracing who you are with your kids. That’s part of the secret! And there are some things that I just don’t do, and I’ll mention 5 of them.
1. I don’t do the tooth fairy
Gasp! Let me give you some background here. I thought playing the tooth fairy would be fun game to play with the kids. My eldest child is one of those clue-y scientific kids who always knew it was mum…but still, it was a fun game to play. A note under the pillow with a coin. Maybe a cute box or purse. Yes? No. I was a tooth fairy failure. Why? Because this tooth fairy forgot. I know. Bad mum. I had the very best of intensions: I waited until the tooth-losing child was as asleep, of course, and by that time, my brain was more mush than usual, and I forgot sometimes. I even forgot 2 nights in a row one time. Bad-BAD mum. Bad tooth fairy! I didn’t always forget, but it was enough for me to reconsider the entire fiasco. It became such a stress and I worried so much about forgetting, and I thought, this is silly. Doing the tooth fairy is not going to make or break a childhood. So reconsider I did. I don’t do the tooth fairy anymore (apologies to the rest of my offspring). However, my kids do get money for their lost teeth.
2. I don’t do big parties every year
I don’t do big birthday parties for my kids each year. And when I mean a big birthday party, I mean invitations, friends, party bags, games…you know…a party-party. I ALWAYS make a big deal of birthdays though, with a cake of the birthday child’s choice (within the scope of my cake making ability – ha), whatever dinner they want me to cook, and special presents. Part of the reason I don’t do parties each year is because of all our moves, and it doesn’t always fit with our family life. We do parties every couple of years.
3. I don’t do pocket money
Like the tooth fairy, this was something I trailed for a while but it wasn’t a success. I feel strongly that it’s a privilege to be part of a family, and contributing to family life is part of that. What I found when I did the pocket money thing: linking household chores with money changed the focus too much for our family. However, I do give my kids opportunity to earn a little $$ for doing out of the ordinary jobs if they are saving up for something special.
4. I don’t like swimming pools
Cringe. I avoid them. I’m not sure what it is exactly about public swimming pools that gets me, but they do. But my kids LOVE them, and I do go, but I’ll avoid getting in if I can help it. If my husband is there, he loves it and gets in with the kids. I’ve had people make sweeping statement to me like, “You should be in there with them!” or “They want mum to play with them”. The thing is I do play with them and get involved…but I don’t have to do it everywhere and not every moment has to be like that. So if you are that mum sitting on the sidelines, having a moment, I get it. I get it!
5. I don’t like cooking with kids
The thing is, I don’t like cooking in general, so cooking WITH the kids isn’t a great combo. Do I still cook with my kids? Yes, I do. But it’s not a focus for me and I don’t do it very often. What I am doing is training up the ones who like to cook so they can eventually take over. See what I did there?
There are plenty of ways I’m not a fun-mum. Does that make be a bad mum? No. But I did fail at the tooth fairy. Does that make be meany-mum? No. Well, maybe just a little.
I joke with my kids and do silly things.
We travel as a family.
I find joy in the small things.
I’m creative and we often have project on the go (give me creative projects over cooking any day).
We do awesome family holidays and epic Christmases.
What do you do? Do you bake awesome stuff? Do you do great school lunches? Amazing costumes? Birthday cakes? Are you passing on that awesome sense of humour of yours? Crafty? Active? Can you sing? Are you a good storyteller? Or a are you that sort of mum that has special softness about her?
Whatever it is, embrace it, and don’t feel guilty if some of your plans of mum-awesomeness are epic fails. That daughter who I failed the tooth fairy on is now 14. And…she’s not scared for life for the lack of it!! It’s okay! Let go more, and embrace it all. The failings, the triumphs, the awesomeness of other mums too. It’s really less about what you DO with your kids that matters, and more about how you ARE with them. And the best thing you can give them, is your love.