One Simple Question That has Changed the Way I Parent


“You can’t plan to be fun,” my husband told me. I was still a bit peeved about our little game of truth or dare with my daughter where she told me which parent she likes more (hint: it wasn’t me!). “You just are.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant at first.

“I totally have fun with the kids,” I said. “We go to the park and the library and do crafts together…” The more activities I mentioned the more I realized the stuff we do together, while fun, is more structured. Much less spontaneous, like my husband who at any time might suddenly turn into a pro-wrestler and pick the kids up for a body slam. He’s getting into it and having fun.

Am I having fun?

When it comes to doing fun things together as a family, I’m the one who gets us there. I’m the one who plans the outing, packs the right hiking sneakers, and makes sure we have snacks for a picnic. My husband is the one who plays referee during their races, or races with them. He catches them when they jump off trees, and carries them on his shoulders.

I might ask my kids to identify a rock, my husband will ask them how far they can skip it. He’ll tighten their Merrell Moab sneakers and ask to see who can run the fastest.

This week I started to realize something when my daughter turned on the Hamilton soundtrack then came in my room to see if I was performing.

“Are you going to sing?” she asked. It dawned on me there are very few times my kids see me give into silliness. I think I’m a “fun parent” because I allow them to have fun opportunities. But my kids want me to be the fun parent who experiences it along with them.

They want me to climb the tree, to get in the pool, to jump on the bed, and sing and dance in front of them.

I really need to stop and ask myself Am I having fun? Because they notice.

They don’t just want me to be a fun parent. They want me to have fun. I think I’m going to start taking them up on that more often.

Are you having fun while parenting?

I’m passionate about getting my children outside to learn, explore and have a good time.That’s why I’ve partnered with Merrell for this post. Their Moab Waterproof sneakers are lightweight, comfortable and great for outings and keeping your feet dry. My kids love them for running, climbing, hiking and just having fun. You can shop the styles here.

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  1. I completely feel you on this. For us it is usually my husband being “fun parent” while I hang back a bit (especially if it something I don’t like doing). My kids want me to participate. They want me to experience it all and have fun with them, not watch them have fun. I need to work on this.

  2. Good post! You made some really good points that made me stop and think about how I do things with my two. I also found myself drifting further from my daughter and closer to my son because I’m always protecting him from her. I see that she’s growing closer to my husband because he will take care of her while I’m caring for the baby. He’s definitely more fun than I am and it doesn’t help my case that I’m always teaching, organizing, cleaning, disciplining, or stressing. I guess I’m not fun because I’m not having fun. Somewhere, somehow I need to learn to just let go.

    1. I’m with you mama. I need to learn to let go more and show them that it’s ok to make mistakes and to not be perfect. Obviously I’m not but I haven’t wanted them to know that. We are in charge of keeping it all together so it can be hard to remember to let go.

  3. I need to be better about this myself. I think sometimes I hang back because I want them to be comfortable doing their own thing. I want them to explore on their own or imagine on their own, but I think sometimes I step too far back and don’t get as involved as I should so they see me as a “fun” mom, like when we’re at the playground. Sometimes I’m the one documenting things while my kids and husband actually do the fun, and I know that’s a bad habit even if it has a good purpose. I guess that’s why I like the pumpkin patch we usually go to this time of year–it’s easy to do things with the kids (even the slides are adult-sized!) so it’s more natural to have fun together.

    1. Oh my goodness I think you hit the nail on the head with “more natural to have fun together” in some places. I think that’s why I (we) love Disney trips so much. Because I’m a HUGE fan and I feel like a big kid myself on the rides and talking to the characters. Pumpkin patches and carnivals and such… same sort of thing. And I’m totally with you. I love to hang back and watching and snapping photos and for me, that IS fun haha. And they can tell when I’m getting into it and laughing with them. They also love when I sing in the shower. lol, basically it doesn’t take much to make them happy.

  4. Hi Jennifer
    thank you so much for sharing these tips. This is a great tip you provided in your article. That´s right: we should have more fun while parenting. It´s often so serious being a mother, but the kids only want us to have fun. Thank you again for this nice post.

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