Am I a fun mom or a mom who gets things done? I’d like to think I am both, but lately, it’s not which I prefer more that I’ve been struggling with, it’s which is more important for my family.
To zoo or not to zoo?
Take, for example, an unusually free weekend. After weeks of running around for work, school, and fun – we had a weekend that was relatively open. My daughter asked to go to the zoo. It seemed like the perfect time, no commitments, a perfect forecast. It seemed like it was meant to be. And then I got to thinking, but wouldn’t some time at home be nice? Catch up on laundry and a few errands, rest our bodies which were noticeably tired. Which of these plans would be more meaningful in the long run? I didn’t know.
It reminded me of a weekend trip we had taken over the summer. We’d somewhat spontaneously decided to take a short trip to Dallas for the weekend. We had a great time, spending time just as our nuclear family (it had been years since we had traveled just us, no extended family, and not for work). We played, we slept, and we didn’t do dishes or cleaning. We also decided to stay longer than planned, which put our arrival back home after 8pm on a “school night”. As I watched my daughter nap in the car at 5pm, I remember thinking, tomorrow is going to be rough. Should we have come back sooner? Would getting back into a normal routine have been better? Or was that extra family time worth it?
How to choose?
I know it’s supposed to be about balance, but when presented with the options, how do you decide? Is it about the memories and connections built during the “fun” times? Or does routine provide that safety net that makes us feel happy and content? Maybe each time is different. I tend to lean more for “fun mom” because I never want to be the mom who said no to quality time in order to clean the house. At the same time, I recognize that the clean house is important for our emotional well-being too.
Can fun be a part of every day?
In thinking about this, I consulted the wise words of my favorite author, Gretchen Rubin. Two of the quotes from her writing really resonated with me here. “What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while,” and, “In the chaos of everyday life, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters, and I can use my habits to make sure that my life reflects my values.” But how to make sense of all of this? For me, I think it means that first, I need to develop habits that make it easier to get things done. And second, it means that I can plan for fun days to be a part of our every day. Or as my daughter says, I can make everyday life “more fun than it needs to be”.