Ummm, when did so many of us become convinced we’re only free to have fun if we’ve taken care of all our other responsibilities first?
Last week, my youngest wanted to watch tv. We said no and she was mad as hell about it! I suggested she jump on the trampoline or go on a walk with me instead, but she stomped her feet and declared there was no way she’d walk with me! I circled back a few minutes later to mention that I would love to have her join me because I really enjoy her company and that’s when she gave it a second thought and agreed.
In truth, I was feeling damn grumpy that afternoon, too. The kids had been home sick that week. And ever since the onset of this darn pandemic, a point ALWAYS comes when I hit my limit! We’d once again been temporarily holed up in the house with the kiddos for days-on-end, working from home while also trying to keep them up with schoolwork, etc. It’s somewhere during that time that I suddenly shift into zero tolerance for stress! I mean ZERO! Ha! And oy! And hell, right? I’ll bet a BILLION of you know this point of which I speak!! 🤪😜
Well, we headed out on our walk, both grumpy, but moving our bodies. It wasn’t long before she started playing, “Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back!” And then skipping came into the picture. She skipped with such abandon that I suddenly found MYSELF wanting to skip for the first skip in about 45 years!! 😳
It turns out skipping feels a little different on knees in their fifties! But it also felt incredibly freeing and fun and we laughed like crazy as we skipped down the path together. Her 7-year-old knees certainly cooperated for far longer than mine and I couldn’t help but notice how seriously she took her skips. Her entire face, fists, arms, and legs were IN the moment as they moved together to create her next skip.
Seeing this made me pause. I wondered to myself, “Where do I tend to focus like that? As adults, where do MANY of us place our focus?” And I realized: my focus often turns to my to-do lists and my responsibilities at home or work. And this seems to be true for many other adults around me, too.
Ummm, when did we learn to remove fun from our lists? I’m serious. Why does fun often end up at the bottom of the list for so many of us, with an understanding that we only get to pour our energy and focus into fun once everything else on our to-do list is checked off?
When my kids have free time, they often use it to play, create, imagine (and sometimes to fight with each other, too! 🤦🏼♀️). Even when they’re emptying the dishwasher, a job they don’t love, they still find ways to include fun. If any of the dishes have a bit of water left in them as they’re relocating them from the dishwasher to the cabinet, they’ve taken to dumping the water on each other’s heads. And then they howl with laughter! I suspect this particular activity would reflexively piss ME off if water was dumped on my head, but they simply love it. And they might just be on to something!
When given the freedom, kids naturally choose fun. But somewhere along the way, many of us adults learn to do the opposite. We become convinced the only way we’re free to have fun is if we’ve taken care of all our responsibilities first. Exactly when did this change for so many of us? What made us lose touch with our innate desire to create and enjoy fun?
I see my older, 11-year-old daughter beginning to focus more on her school assignments (her to-do list). At times, I watch her independently choosing to postpone fun to tackle these tasks for school, which is newer for her. And I recognize the necessity of this shift. But I also see her easily slide back into fun on the other side of those tasks. And I wonder if there’s a way for us grown ups to remember how to slide back into fun more easily, too?
In many ways, this pandemic has challenged how we experience fun, hasn’t it? It made our normal avenues for fun more difficult or even impossible. For some, this compelled them to create fun in new ways. But for many, including me, it’s frequently made fun slide into the background, or down to the bottom of our to-do lists. Until suddenly, we look up and notice that our lives have become one giant to-do list! Seriously, people. Even time for personal growth has ended up causing fun to be pushed off my list lately, and I didn’t even know that was possible! 🤪
So I’m prioritizing fun again, folks. Hmmm, even as I write the word ‘prioritizing’, it feels like yet another responsibility! Let me rewrite that: I’m choosing to include fun again, peeps! Yup, that feels better. I’m not throwing my responsibilities out the window, but I’m choosing to weave fun into those experiences again. When we need to pick up the house, maybe I’ll crank music and declare a family dance party while we clean. When I’m tackling the ever-demanding laundry, perhaps I’ll throw some wet clothes over my own head and chase my family around the house! And when that serious, overly responsible adult in me suggests I hold off on the fun so the job is completed more quickly, I’ll give her a loving squeeze, a mischievous grin, and invite her to see the magic that happens when we choose to welcome the fun in, too.
So I ask you, is fun at the bottom of your to-do list? If so, when did you learn to believe that you must choose either responsibilities or fun, but never both, let alone both at the same time?
What if it turns out there are a billion moments each day when we can choose to step into fun, even for a few micro-moments? I’m repeatedly reminded it’s in these small moments that an unexpected shift in mood, outlook, and experience can happen. And suddenly we discover unrushed joy has been quietly perched there all along, just waiting to co-create with us:-)
So? Wanna join me in choosing to include fun again? You’re most certainly invited to the party. ❤️
P.S. Know a loved one or friend who is looking for relief in THIS moment? Share my free MICRO-MOMENT RESET with them so they can move into relief, feel more ease, and find more clarity without having to work so hard to make it all happen.
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Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND
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