I often ask my clients “what do you do for fun?”. The response is sometimes a blank stare, a mumble about watching their kids play sport, or sometimes even tears. Mothers don’t make fun a priority in their lives. Many mothers put their leisure last, and reach for their to-do lists instead. And their lives are emptier for it.
Kids, especially daughters, learn about fun and leisure from their mothers.
Did your mother have much fun? It is probably an aspect of her life you have not considered before. How much do you remember your mum laughing? Do you remember her disappearing off to do her thing? Weave her macramé? Surf those waves? Hike that mountain? Paint that oil painting? Anything? Did she do something for the sheer joy of it?
If your mother filled her hours selflessly serving her home and kids, that might be the model you follow. If your mother was always busy working at things around the house: always doing stuff, very task oriented, wouldn’t sit still, telling you that laziness was unacceptable – you probably inherited that too. Many of us have a deeply embedded belief that fun is frivolous. Working and achieving, or maintaining control of the household chores, always takes precedent.
It is sad. A balanced life always needs fun. Not all the time. But a healthy dose. Some light-hearted fun is as important as eating well, getting good sleep, being productive. The serious needs to be balanced by something light.
What are you teaching your own kids? Do they see you having fun?
Research says that the more you play in childhood, the more you will in adulthood.
Play sculpts the brain. When horsing around, pretending, telling stories, moving our bodies, creating, making jokes, tinkering, being curious, competing in sports, daydreaming and playfully exploring new things like soaring on a trapeze, the brain makes rich new neural connections that fire together in new ways. And this is how we build complex, skilled, responsive, socially adept and flexible brains
Play deprivation tends to kick in around adolescence. Carefree children are suddenly self-conscious, and it’s a downward spiral from there.
Trying a range of experiences and activities early on, when the stakes for failing or proving oneself are so much lower, makes it easier to return to them later in adulthood.
In today’s screen obsessed world, help your children to maintain their sense of play. It will serve them well as an adult.
When you don’t make time for play you become joyless, rigid and less curious. Putting it bluntly – the less you play, the less fun you are to be around. If you are not letting yourself loose sometimes, then when other people have fun, you feel resentful. You would like more fun in your life, but you have forgotten how. It is another way that mothers lose themselves.
Consider this: Women deliberately choosing leisure (without children or family involved), is nothing less than a courageous, almost subversive act of resistance. Try it. Give yourself the gift of fun.