Nope, probably not the F you were thinking of!
This F is one of the three I talk about in my Tools for Talking course. The next course is starting soon, so keep your eyes & ears open 🙂
Ok, ok, I won’t keep you guessing for longer! The F I’m talking about is FUN. Yup…FUN. As a parenting tool for sure, but also for ourselves. I’ve mentioned it before in my post on Parent Hacks but this is just such a multi-faceted tool that works for anyone from an itty bitty baby to elderly grandparents that it merits it’s own separate post!
For the sake of focus though…let’s just talk about fun for our little kids. I realize this is still pretty broad, and am keeping it this way on purpose to keep your creativity and openness to trying new things in the game 😉
Do NOT Underestimate the Power of FUN
To completely revolutionize your life! I may have a funny bone, and briefly considered a stint as a stand-up comedian…but even I can be a cranky mofo sometimes and find it pretty challenging at these times to make things fun. And being fun doesn’t always come “naturally” or “easily”. The more I’ve practiced though, the easier it has become to make more and more situations that used to escalate a mere blip or even create something amazing from a totally boring, humdrum situation.
Right now you’re may be thinking something along the lines of yeah yeah, I don’t have the time or energy to be funny with my kids, I need to get them to school on time, or to wear clothes, or just get off that dang playground so we can go home and eat!
In this case, I would challenge you, pretty cheerfully, to a duel!
Your logical/calm (or not so calm) persuasion, rationalization, reminders of agreements, bribes or even threats…
Yup. I’m that confident. Why? Because I’ve seen it work again, and again, and again. With my own kids, with parents I’ve coached doing it with their kids, me doing it with other people’s kids…and I’ve taught my husband this too. Oh, and I’ve read about it too so it’s not just me that talks about this in case you were wondering if I made this up 😉
A Couple Examples
- Needing to leave the playground:
Me: Time to go Dylan. We need to head home for lunch.
Dylan (3): No. Love playground.
Me: Uh-oh…I see a Dylan-o-saurus about to turn into a hungry T-Rex…I hope he doesn’t eat me…ahhhhhhh (turning and starting to run away).
Dylan: (Immediately wanting to be a T-Rex and eat me) Raaaaarrrrr!
And we ran together from the playground.
- Leaving the house on time for school.
Rachel: Come on Hannah, it’s time to go. We’re going to be late.
Hannah (6): I don’t want to go to school.
Rachel: I hear you. You don’t want to go. Hmm. Shall we see who can get to the car and click their seatbelt first?
Hannah: (Running towards the door) Me!
Rachel (name changed for privacy) was one of my Tools for Talking course participants. After she did this once, her daughter started asking if they could race every day! All of a sudden something that used to be a daily battle became something FUN.
Let’s be clear, making things fun is not only for conflict situations, and it of course doesn’t replace recognizing feelings (which I’ll write another post about soon!) and it’s not a magic silver bullet to solve everything. Make things fun on a walk to school or a long car ride however or even nipping potential conflicts in the bud by making them fun ahead of time, is a pretty awesome skill to have in your parenting backpack.
Here’s a few places you can use this approach in life with kids:For getting out of bed, getting dressed, eating, brushing teeth, bathing/showering, leaving the house or playground, going on car rides, doing errands, going to the doctor…you name it!
Oh, and there are so many different ways to create fun (I’ll give you some examples here below) that the possibilities and combinations are endless!
The MOST challenging part about making things fun is STARTING. And getting past that first time when our kids look at us strangely because we’re doing something completely new and unexpected. We never know how our kids are going to respond to what we do. But honestly, what’s the alternative? The same battle about the same thing….AGAIN? At the very least introducing fun will shift the mood in some way.
Remember that all kids are different, so tune in to their interests (ex. dinosaurs) or needs (ex. calm, excitement) to help inspire yourself to create more fun. .
Now I’m going to give you some ideas. And challenge you. To try them! And not just once…a few times. Preferably every day. I know you’re going to have at LEAST one moment every day when there’s some way fun could spice it up a bit and make everyone’s day more enjoyable.
Let’s take things a step at a time though. And don’t worry if after a few times your kid isn’t resonating with a particular kind of humor. It’s fine. Move onto the next one. Find one that resonates with your kids (you know them best after all), and you can be ok with too.
Some Ways to Make Things Fun
- Life with a twist. Just tweak things you normally do. Walking becomes walking backwards or hopping. Probably the easiest one to start with if making things fun is a bit of a struggle.
- Gamification. How can you make whatever you’re doing a game? Like playing T-Rex, making things a race or competition. If you have multiple kids do be aware of sibling dynamics when doing these things!
- Goofy Parent. Act confused, or bust out a silly voice. It’s not for nothing that cartoons are so popular!
- Tell a story. Start with ones you know and then branch out into making up your own. You can even ask your kids what they would like to hear about and make up a story from there.
Still find yourself lacking inspiration for fun and not implementing yet? Come join the Tools for Talking course starting next month. You’ll not only hear more examples and get to check how you’re doing, but also get inspiration from other parents who are also just getting going with tools like these. You can get on the T4T waitlist here.
And did you know that we have a really awesome facebook community of ambitious, badass moms that talk about this stuff (and much more)? Come join the conversation!