The Fun List

I am not the fun friend, the one you call when your book proposal was just accepted and are in dire need of some celebratory dancing and perhaps Paris. No, I am the friend you call when your book proposal was declined, and your heart is in two, three, four parts and you need some talking on the couch and a full cup of coffee.

Over the years, I have slowly come into this – a single goldfish growing into her bowl – and have learned to like my serious streak. I don’t mind it much, in that it comes with great perks: a love for rainy afternoons, a deep gratitude for challenges, a respect for quiet.

Still, life with a toddler flips my serious side at an angle that – if not handled with care – will topple over into anti-fun, squelching these tiny emboldened spirits with my life lessons, clean lines, sharpened crayons.

And so. Ever the planner, I have created a list. I understand the irony in this, tiny pre-planned bullet points for spontaneous parenting excitement, and yet, this is me. I am learning a new way, and many new ways need a roadmap. This one is mine:

1. A bubble bath. Easy peasy, and a certified mood-turn-arounder. Smiles shine brighter with foam chins; I believe this might be in a leather bound dictionary of facts.
2. A fort, for hiding-and-seeking, reading-and-snacking, tickling-and-giggling. Anything is good under a blanket of soft, and even better in a cardboard box.
3. A kitchen mess. We’re still on our candied pecans kick, but raw brownies are a good, toddler-approved experiment.
4. Dress up. On Mom’s bedroom floor, costume jewelry drawer open and spilling out, no less than eight rings per finger. Dresses from scarves, belts from necklaces, as many bracelets as one tiny arm can muster. Then, a photo snap for Dad and an impromptu tea party to follow.
5. Road trip. Hop in the car and take a short drive, destination unknown, volume up. “I spy” on the agenda, and perhaps a coffee for Mom? Yes, a coffee for Mom.
6. Art letters. Mail mini masterpieces to whomever she fancies, from “Bob our tall neighbor” to “the white hair lady at the grocery so we can thank her for the stickers.”
7. Songs, songs, many songs. Made-up, turned-up, flubbed-up. The cure for blues is just one tune away.
8. Dancing to follow.
9. Kinetic sand sculptures on the dining room table, sunglasses optional; bikinis required. And then, dust buster fun.
10. Hair parlor. Many styles await – my own, Bee’s, two dogs and Dad, when he is home. Creativity is welcomed – clothespin chic is a favorite.

Tell me, oh seasoned fun friends – what is my list missing? Pass along your spirited knowledge and I will share my couch cushions and coffee cups with you, seriously serious.

  • Well Erin – I am fun ( and serious, former lawyer for goodness sake ) and your list is very FUN! Mom of 2 girls, so I know. Everything can be magica, ’cause everything is magical. So easy to turn around a frown now. Your list is wonderful as it is full of time together, dive into it with laughter, hugs, wearing silly, yet fabulous outfits, take lots of pictures & be there IN it – not the pic, u know what I mean. My baby is 12 today, so I enjoyed reading your list very much – we did all that and more & you will too. You are a SERIOUSLY great mom I am sure. Gotta run Lara’s cake smells done. xx

    • Oh Kelly! Your kind words just – poof – lifted me right up today. Thank you, thank you! (The cake smells fantastic, I know it!)

  • I simply (1) adore you and (2) this list. I, too, am not “the fun friend” but the one my friends call when they need the hug, someone to listen or simply be there during the rockier times in life.

    As a very new mom I’ve been trying to see the bigger picture and goals, but let the day’s plans be a little more “fuzzy” than they were before the arrival of our little girl. Having a list like this will most certainly help when plans don’t go anything according to plan and our little one needs extra love on a given day (of their choosing, of course!). The work will get done, and the rest of life will be attended to, but they are going to be little for only a short period of time. I’m going to do my best to take deep breaths, roll with “alternate plans” and more liberally indulge in play in the work day as needed!

    • Oh, I hear you Erin (and thank you for your kind words!). I’m still working on the bigger picture every day, and my own new mom sweater is finally feeling a bit warmer and a lot less itchy. But my, it is an adjustment. I’m glad you’re being gentle with yourself throughout the process! :)

  • Best. List. Ever. :-) Sometimes we spice up bath time by adding a bunch of glow sticks from the dollar store and turning out the lights. Also, never under estimate the power of a bin of dry rice and beans or shaving cream smeared on a table top or drops of food coloring and dish soap dripped into milk. No matter the adventure, the time together is the memory builder; and, where grown Bee’s mind will wander when she is sitting on a sofa, under a blanket on a rainy day.

  • Love this list! I’m a list maker, so I’m biased, but i think having a plan lends to intention & a plan, leaving time for more spontaneity instead of stifling it. As long as the list continues to serve it’s purpose and I don’t serve the list : )

    The one thing I’d add is fresh air & a bit of dirt! There’s no substitute for hiking & exploring…email me if you’d like a couple suggestions. Personally i hate being cold, so it’s hard to get out unless the weather is perfect, but even a cold hike offers some great payoffs!

    • Oh yes, yes, yes, I would love suggestions! I so long to be a hiker on most days, but am like you with the cold. Tips please. ;)

  • You so remind me of Tinker Bell, Erin. From the new shows on the Disney Channel. Forrest and I are both loving those! As for fun, his favorites are currently playing chase with dad chasing us through the house as we scream and hide; anything involving making a mess of toys; “Play with me cars, Mom!”; ant time we’ll join him under a blanket or table so we’re “in the dark”; and mostly reminding myself to join in and encourage his fun. I think your list is a smart move, lady. = )

    • Ahhhh, thank you for the compliment – I love Tinker Bell. :) And yes, under blankets and tables and chairs, oh my! Must be the stage. ;)

  • We are quite similar! I am the serious one, the one who can be counted on when things are tough, but I’m not so great about being spontaneous and wild. I know this about myself. I also know that when I have a child I will need to (and want to?) change to be more go with the flow. I think this is a great list to start with!

  • This may not be for everyone, but I remember 3 little girls who spent hours with their magazine and catalog self-made paper dolls. By the way, we finally found the little bear in our couch cushions after Bee’s most recent hide and seek games here!

  • Love this! Life seems to get in the way of the easy fun things to do with the kids. Thanks for the reminder!!

  • Canvas painting on the porch, in the rain.

    And, art in the park – or woods – a travel art case, a blanket, snacks, and some canvas or sketch pad…we draw, we hike/walk, we picnic and paint.

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