Somewhere along the way, I lost fun. It’s now on my to-do list.
If you’d told me at age 20 that someday I’d have to schedule fun, I’d have thought you were nuts. It took me days even to come up with three things that sounded fun. I had to return to childhood to remember.
My kids don’t have to schedule fun. To them, everything is fun. Going out to school in the morning, they’re chasing each other, laughing, stealing a quick jump on the swing set on the way to the car. At mealtimes they’re playing with food, singing nonsense rhymes. Even going to the bathroom is an irresistible potty joke giggle-fest.
Parenthood is full of joy, warmth, deep fulfillment. I organize all kinds of fun – holidays, birthdays, season upon season of activities. It makes me enormously grateful and happy to see my kids having fun. But I’m always wiped out by the orchestration of and responsibility for all that goes into those events (not to mention cleaning up the aftermath).
Someone once told me that by the time you’re 20, you’ve had 80% of the time in the sun that you’re likely to have in your entire life. I think the same statistic for fun might be even worse. Adulthood – particularly parenthood – is highly scheduled. Be here, be there, do this, don’t forget that. If I don’t stake out a place for personal fun in the schedule, it gets crowded out by the have-to-dos.
But what constitutes fun for adults? The occasional get together with friends, with kids running around, is chaotically fun but not the person-to-person connection of old. Even a quiet late evening with my husband, kids reliably in bed for the night, is a treat I don’t take for granted.
I think watching our kids run around often inspires us to try physical activities for fun – to remember when we didn’t have to think about exercise because fun was an activity in itself. I take dance class one night a week, and it’s a much needed physical and mental health break. I have friends who do Irish dancing, or yoga, or golf. Many of my friends love to run or bike – some even do marathons or triathlons. Some play in adult soccer or tennis leagues. A mom I know took up karate after her son got into martial arts and has now – three years later – earned her second level black belt. Another friend with grown kids is a nationally ranked ballroom dancer.
Resurrecting old dreams is also fun. One good friend of mine flies helicopters – her husband bought her a single lesson for her birthday to get the idea out of her system, but instead she got hooked. I have friends who paint, or write. I sit at my computer late at night and share tidbits that I hope in some small way might make someone’s day better.
The beauty of being not-young adults is that we’re all just trying to have fun. We’re not trying to make the team or win a trophy. I take hip hop dance, which didn’t even exist when I was a kid. I love it. Many people that I’ve met in adult dance classes have never danced before but were inspired to try after watching their kids’ classes. One of the moms in my Palo Alto dance studio is a pediatrician in the community, and she dances in the year end show even though she knows she’ll get incredulous inquiries later from young patients of hers in the audience with their parents. And she rocks it.
I’d love to hear what you do for fun. Let’s inspire each other to have more of it.