SummaryAmy Pawlusiak is a to-do-list kind of mom. But adding some fun and games widened her comfort zone, and teaches her children to have joyful lives too!
I’m a very busy person.
With five kids from teen to toddler, I find myself pulled in many different directions. I strive to give each child what they need, physically and emotionally. I work all day, and, I admit, I’ve almost forgotten how to laugh. I’m focused and driven, and that’s just my personality.
I make sure things get done, because let’s face it—so much NEEDS to get done. If the laundry doesn’t get done, it’s me. If the dinner isn’t made, it’s me. If the paperwork for some new activity wasn’t turned in on time, that’s me. I am so busy…being busy.
Then one day I was researching activities for a boys’ group that I run with a friend on First Fridays. I found an activity in a book called “Flying Fish” and decided to try it out. What you do is get a bunch of newspaper, and cut about 1-foot long newspaper fish out of them. Each person gets a newspaper “fish” and puts his or her name on it. Then, each gets a magazine, notebook, or whatever you can find, to wave at the fish until it “flies.”
The point is to have a race to see whose “flying fish” gets to the finish line first. And guess who loved it most? The littlest one, of course. My 2 year old had a great time making all the fish move around the house with a folder. Then, the older boys all jumped in and made the fish go all over the place. Before they were done, we had torn paper fish everywhere, and lots of smiles and giggles.
Everyday Joys Help Us to Let Go
Now, at first, I lamented my paper fish being destroyed. This was just a trial run, of course, but I was trying to PLAN here! Then, at some point, I realized that it didn’t matter. I have lots of newspaper, and the fish gave everyone some joy in an otherwise quiet day.
When did I lose the ability to have fun? Spontaneity doesn’t work in my life. I have to-do lists!
But obviously, I need to let go a bit.
I am homeschooling, but my kids need to know that I’m also a Mom and a regular person who wants to have fun sometimes too. Everyday joys are normal, and make life worth living. I need to learn to be silly.
How do I do that?
It’s Not Easy
As I mentioned before, I think I’ve forgotten how to be silly, so I put it on my to-do list (yes, on a list). My first act was to get some Play-Doh. If you have kids, then you’ve had Play-Doh. I banned it years ago when I got tired of finding little pieces of it all over the floor, on the couch, in the carpet, etc.
But, I know that my toddler needs toys like this for his fine motor skills (my homeschooling brain is in full throttle here!). He loves to create with his hands, and Play-Doh is age-appropriate. So, I tentatively put out the new Play-Doh cans and a bunch of little cutters and such to go with it. I let me toddler have at it. He loves it!
It’s all over the floor, but I tell myself that’s okay. He is making mommy bracelets, creating “spaghetti” and cutting it into pieces. Of course, the rest of my kids have jumped in too. They love it too! Imagine that.
Nothing like seeing your twelve-year-old play with the two-year-old, making Play-Doh balls and creations. I stand back and do my best to ignore the mess. Instead, I take pictures of them making their creations and post them.
Of course, Play-Doh is now one of their favorite toys. I congratulate myself that I did something out of my comfort zone to add some joy, and realize again that it’s time they have more play in their day.
Maybe I need to play too.
Bring the Smiles and Play Simple Games
So, I learned that my kids need to play with me, and, well, I like having fun too! Over the years, I’ve found that I dislike playing board games with the kids because they take too long, and many are too complicated for the younger ones.
So for a long time I just didn’t play any games with my kids. Then, along came Apples-to-Apples. A friend gave us this game, and even my youngest can “help” by choosing the cards to see whose card is the closest to the theme card. We have the Disney version, which makes it very cute and fun for everyone. Other simple games and ways to be silly I’ve learned we like at our house are:
- Card games, like war, gin rummy, and go-fish.
- Word play games like, “I’m going camping and I’m bringing…” This game was just introduced to us by my 7th grader. Of course, Twenty Questions and I Spy work too!
- Teach everyone how to make paper airplanes. The more creative, the better!
- Have everyone color or make something in honor of a feast day. Look online for inspiration. It’s amazing how creative the older ones can get, and how much joy the little ones get out of it.
- Get out of the house and play basketball, foursquare or whatever game in the driveway. If you have physical challenges, just sit outside and watch, keep score and cheer them on. The kids will love it.
- Any other games you can think of. The sky’s the limit! What other games do you play with your kids?
The easier the game, the more likely you will play it. If you are silliness-challenged, like me, then you’ll need to learn how to add them into your daily life. I’m still learning how to not be so busy that I forget to have joy.
But let’s face it—I’m not just teaching reading, writing, and math; I’m teaching them how to live a life balanced with God’s joy.
And that’s worth it.