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3 Steps To Become Fun Again

expat life expat mums expat parenting expat parenting abroad Aug 03, 2021

When did I stop being fun? This was a question a client asked herself recently, she is using our coaching sessions to get clarity on her direction, but in the discussion of rediscovering her passions she realised that she was no longer fun. 

I used to be a fun mum, she said, when did that stop? I used to be a fun person, people loved being around me, how did I lose that?

It got me thinking, it seems to be a phase that many women go through. We are so caught up in the busyness of our lives. We are completely absorbed by the demands our family has placed on us. We forget to laugh. We forget to pause and appreciate. We stop smiling. We stop being fun.

I think the worst aspect is that most of the time we don’t even realise it, we don’t recognise that we no longer laugh, that we don’t smile, that we’re not fun.

In hindsight, I realised that I too had gone through that phase. It was when we moved to Taipei, I stopped laughing with the girls and instead I was yelling at them. I was feeling pressure to get ‘everything’ done for them, I forgot to be with them. 

I was fortunate, Sundae Bean at the time hosted a parenting challenge for Expats on Purpose, and I had the opportunity to recognise that I had slipped into this perpetuating military style of parenting that wasn’t good for me or for the girls. 

At the time, I made the decision to become a different parent. It was a journey, my style didn’t change overnight, but I have made the shift. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but the girls and I now have a far stronger relationship. We do have a lot of fun together, and we laugh a lot! 

This was clear in the recent holidays, we did simple things together and on the night before they returned to school, they both commented on how much fun they had. With lots of big hugs and kisses too! 

So today I am sharing my tips, the 3 steps you can take to become fun again.

Step 1 - Create Space

Our lives are so scheduled these days, I think that’s one thing we all learned with our various lock downs, is how much we schedule in our lives. 

I’m suggesting you create blocks of space. A Sunday afternoon; a day during the holidays; a Friday night after school. Find blocks of time that are just space. Don’t preempt it, don’t try to fill it, be guided by your kids. See what their interests are, what they gravitate to and explore that with them (and perhaps you need to take away devices for this to work). 

At the moment we have a lounge room full of cardboard… despite being 11 and 9 years, we have had so much fun with boxes and cardboard. We’ve created huts, we’ve taken each other for slides, we’ve hidden Minty in them. It’s simple, but it’s fun!

Step 2 - Seize Opportunities

These recent holidays were not what I had in mind, I wanted to take the girls to Australia to see my parents, but our TransTasman bubble has popped :-( 

Instead I allowed opportunities to present themselves. For example the day we were heading to the hairdresser, I packed a picnic bag. The girls laughed at me, taking my picnic to the hairdresser. But I was creating opportunities for us. When we finished, it was the most stunning afternoon - blue skies and no wind. I laughed back at them, well lucky we have a picnic, now we can go to the beach and enjoy this stunning afternoon!

By not over scheduling, by being a little prepared, I was able to seize the opportunity that afternoon presented us. This was one of the highlights that was mentioned last night when we recapped the holidays. It was a really fun afternoon, with loads of laughing (and some really bad singing in the car!)

Step 3 - Keep Some Surprises

I do have little ideas in the back of my mind too, such as a visit to the trampoline park. After a doctor's appointment on Friday, I had packed a change of clothes for the girls and of course a picnic, and I said “right, we’re off to a surprise location”. 

Part of the fun is them trying to guess where we are headed. Part of it is the suspense, they have no idea what to expect. When we pulled in, Madam S’s face lit up… really! I love this place!

As you can see by my examples, I’m not spending a lot of money. I’m not creating a huge amount of work for myself. I’m just allowing the girls the time and space to have fun, and to join in the fun with them.

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