Just How Must Fun Are You?

Parenting can be  really painful!  Oh, I’ve read all of the quotes and articles and comments people have made about the joys of parenthood.  But, let’s be honest.  There are days we vow that our next time around we are not going to do the kid thing anymore! If any of my five children just happen to read this column, I don’t want them to take my comments personally.  They have been terrific kids, as kids go.  In fact, I have been told stories about how my own parents had some of these very same feelings.  My mother was a third grade teacher and she loved her job.  When I came along as a surprise, she didn’t think she could last being a full time mom until it was time for me to go to school. And guess what?  She didn’t!  Since my dad was the school superintendent, she was able to talk him into letting me start first grade at the age of five so she could go back to work!   

     I will say that over the years I have learned a secret that has helped me cope with parenthood more than anything else I have ever tried.  The secret is learning how to be fun!  I know that sounds silly. But, believe me, it really works.  A few years ago I threw myself into the studies of fun and humor and one of the first things I learned is that most of us are not fun naturally!  Knowing how to be fun is learned!  Don’t assume I am talking about having fun.  I am talking about being fun for others.    Once I was able to develop some of the  “be-fun strategies” my role as a parent became a lot easier.  Let me explain to you why this works.  People just love people who make them laugh. And guess what?  People will just naturally  listen to people they love!  

     Over the next few weeks I am going to share with you some “how to be more fun” tips.  This not only works for us as parents but for us in the workplace, as well.  Don’t worry, you won’t have to act like a clown or try to be a comedian or even tell jokes.  It is so much easier than that.  In fact, I am going to start you off this week with tip #1.  Go out of your way to let the person  you are with  feel that you think they are fun.   Laugh at things they say to you and tell them you really have fun with them.  This will set the stage for future fun times together. When people think you are having a lot of fun with them, they are less disagreeable, more helpful,actually act like they are having fun, too and before you know it….the two of you really did have a fun experience!  

     Just one quick reminder to you about fun and humor any time or any place.  Fun should never humiliate, hurt or embarrass anyone.  It should not be sarcastic and it should be kind so that anyone who walks into the room could join in on the fun. I have learned that the best kind of fun and humor is when I do something silly or stupid and I make fun of myself.  I am my best subject because I am doing silly and embarrassing things all of the time!    People love to hang out with people who openly tell on themselves and admit they are not perfect.  In fact, this week think of one of your most embarrassing moments and dare to share it with someone else.  Believe me, they will love you for it…..especially if you tell one of your kids.                  



Single Parent Alert: Become Your Own Best Friend!

I was certainly in for a lot of surprises in my new role as a single parent! One of them was to learn that I seemed to need a “best friend” more than ever before. I needed someone to understand my concerns and worries when no one else seemed to “get it”. I needed someone to help me keep on “keeping on” when I wanted to quit. And more often than not I needed a cheerleader who reminded me that I was doing a good job in this new job, especially since it was one that I had never been trained. Well, guess what? Every time I needed the encouragement of a best friend, there never seemed to be one available! Then one day I had a rude awakening. I was the one who needed to be my best friend and I was letting me down! After taking a good, long look at how good a friend I was being to me, I realized I needed a quick short course on this subject because I was failing at my efforts. I read somewhere that most of the time we tend to live up to whatever other people say we are. Hmmm. Who were these people telling me about me and did they really know me at all? What had I been saying to myself about me? All of the wrong things. I was feeling discouraged because I wasn’t keeping everyone in the family happy. All of my household chores were not all being completed because I didn’t have time to do them all or else I had the time and was too tired to do them! I was blaming myself because I was in this new situation in the first place. But, what had I been telling myself that I was doing right? I couldn’t thing of a single thing.
It occurred to me that others usually had no clue as to who I was and from now on I would be who I said I was as a person. In fact, I started doing what is called “I Am Meditations” Once a day and sometimes more than that I would calmly recite to myself all of the terrific qualities I had or was practicing to develop. It sounded something like this: ” I am strong. I am patient, kind and loving, I am a beautiful woman. I am happy. I am the best I can be every single day. I am a good parent. I am at peace with who I am and who I am becoming.” After many days of repeating this list of “I am’s” I truly began to feel really good about myself. The next thing I learned to do was to ask for what I wanted. For some reason I had learn this negative habit of assuming others would know what I needed from them or expected of them and if they didn’t appear to know I shouldn’t bother them by asking. I should just quietly do without! Wrong! One single mom told me that we must get into the habit of letting know what we need and want and this included gifts for my birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day! This really hit home because the very first Mother’s Day as a single parent, no one remind the children that they should remember me on this day! I was crushed but, didn’t say a word! This single mom giving me some tips said it is our parental responsibility to teach our children the “family customs” and how and when to participate in them. I bought into this piece of advice quickly and even went so far as to post an idea list of what to do for me and when to share it with me. You only need to be forgotten in this area once in order for you to remember to teach these ” family customs” to our children in time for the next year!
By the way, it won’t be too many weeks until Mother’s Day and/or Father’s Day. Start teaching your children about your “family’s customs” early. Don’t forget to post your lists of what would be nice gifts for these occasions. As I was reminded, these lessons are part of our new parental responsibility!