Are you a fun mom?

Dad is the fun one.

I had grudgingly accepted this as a fact of motherhood until a moment of revelation recently with my 5-year-old daughter, Nicole. After a day at a writing conference in which I spoke to adults and didn’t change a single diaper, I came home refreshed and ready to play with my kids.

We jumped in the pool, and I splashed around doing lame attempts at handstands and taking Nicole for horsey rides in the deep end. At one moment, Nicole looked up with a huge grin on her face and yelled, “Mom, you’re fun!”

Now, this wouldn’t have struck me as odd except the way she said it wasn’t so much a statement of fact, but like a thought that had suddenly occurred to her. It was as if in her five years of existence she had never before realized that I —  the Mom, the worrier, the planner, the chauffer – could also be fun.

It’s easy for dads to be fun. When dad is around it is usually the weekend or a family activity or something where the fun is built in. Nap time and lunch time and grocery shopping don’t have that same comes-complete-with-fun feeling.

And, when dad is in charge, it is usually for a temporary period in which dad’s goal is simple: Don’t let the child die. They don’t have to plan future activities, make doctor’s appointments or contemplate how full-day kindergarten may traumatize their child. They don’t have to buy groceries for meals or worry that the children get enough calcium in their diet.

So, dad gets to be fun. And I end up being the stick in the mud who is always chasing Nicole with sunscreen, or I end up taking yet another fun family photo that I am not in. So to reinforce the Mom = dud, Dad = awesome cycle, all of the photo albums (which mom makes) are jammed with pictures commemorating fun times with dad.

Now I know I sound bitter about this, and that’s because I was. But I’m not now because I also had a poolside moment of epiphany when my daughter pronounced me as a fun mom. I realized my kids don’t get to see the silly, carefree side of me enough. They see “serious mom” who is too busy taking care of everyone.

I’m not letting dad be the only fun one in this parenting duo. From now on, I’m jumping in on the tickling matches instead of watching them. Dinner can wait. Or better yet, dad can cook while I wrestle because what my children and I both need is more plain old fun together.

How do you have fun with your children? Do you ever feel like the dud while dad is the fun one?






  1. Cat

    In my house, I’m the fun one. I’m always taking the kids to do all kinds of things. I’m the one that will sit and watch cartoons with them and play games with them. I’m the one that teases and tickles. I’m always doing weird things with them. I once took my kids around Davis and Salt Lake counties looking at all the painted buffalo. It took nearly two months to get to all of them, but the kids still talk about how fun that was. Now that my kids are older, I’m the one that watches some of the same shows that they do. I’ll go with them to the movies they want to see. Basically, I show intrest in them and what they like.

  2. Laura

    This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about, particularly because when my husband comes home every night, my 20-month daughter started taking her dad into her bedroom, and when I tried to to come in and play with them she’d try to push me out the door.
    So, I’ve been analyzing my life. What I’ve realized is that minute for minute, I actually play more with my daughter than my husband does, simply because I’m the one who’s home all day. For every one time I do “negative” things (like change diapers and put her down for a nap-the things she hates most in life) I really do at least a dozen of fun things-blow bubbles outside, sing her favorite silly song six times in a row (while doing all of the actions of course), chase her and tickle her, etc. etc. But, it’s a fact of life that we remember the bad things in life far more easier than the good ones. My solution? Let Dad do, or at least help, with the sad things in life when he’s around. If the weekend isn’t too busy, I save grocery shopping for when he can come with us. We’ve decided to put her to bed together when it’s possible, and if he’s playing with her and she needs a diaper change, at the very least he is now the one to scoop her up from a riveting game of blanket monster and tell her it’s time for a diaper change. I realize it’s a careful balance because I don’t want to dump the kids on him to do all of the negative parenting things the moment he gets home from work, but so far, it’s really helped a lot. I guess what I’m trying to say is, you really are probably more fun than you think 🙂

  3. Day80

    When I feel like I’m in a funk or feel like my kids are starting to act out, I take a step back and realize its because I say “no” far too often. Then I can get back in my “yes” routine when it comes to watching their favorite episode of Phineas and Ferb or playing whatever crazy game they are making up. Yesterday we all played on the slip n’ slide for a few hours. I think when you understand that being an adult doesn’t mean you have to act like one all the time, life is more fun for you and the kids. Obviously you make sure your kid’s needs are all met, but then what…read a magazine? Watch a show? I would much rather hang out with my little nuggets!

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