The Funniest Minute
The Funnest Minute
I’m not sure if it’s true that the family that has fun together stays together, but I have a feeling that if a family does have fun together they want to be together more. And that has to be a good thing.
When our children were little, my husband was the “fun one”. He would come home and rumble around on the lounge-room floor with the kids, while I dutifully did jobs in the kitchen, and be grateful for a few quiet minutes.
Just occasionally I would join them in the game of “stacks-on”, and become part of this giggling bundle of arms and legs. Then after a while I would sensibly announce, “OK guys, time to settle down now. Someone’s going to get hurt.”
I think I started to realise the significance of these family times when our daughter Rubie observed, “Mum, do you know what the funnest minute our family ever had was?”
The funnest minute?! No I didn’t have a clue!
She continued, “It was when we were wrestling in the lounge-room, and even you joined in.”
She was only about six, but something inside her knew this was a significant minute. Her whole family was loving each other’s company, relaxing, laughing, together. It was a joyful memory.
In our house, every Monday night was games night. It was always the same favourite game, with the same ending. The loser (who for some reason always ended up being dad) would have to crawl through the smacking machine, a tunnel made by everyone’s legs.
No matter how many times we made dad go through the smacking machine, it was just as funny, every time.
As the kids grew older they would come home from school and entertain me with impressions of quirky teachers, and I would laugh till my sides ached at their exaggerated walks, faces and accents.
Author Vicki Lansky said, “You will always be your child’s favourite toy.”
In the busyness and seriousness of life we can forget this. We can miss the moment to get down on the floor and play with the barbies, or race the matchbox cars, or be the hairdresser or the shop-keeper or the horse.
When we play together memories are made, connections are built, and children feel loved and valued. They know they matter to the adults who are willing to stop and have fun with them.
Research shows us that children who have a strong emotional connection to the adults in their lives actually cope better with peer pressure. They become more resilient, more empathetic, more self-controlled, more cooperative.
It took me a while to catch on to how important it is to relax with your kids, to enjoy them, to laugh and play with them. I would feel guilty, like I should have been working harder. In those times my kids missed out.
Two tips I would recommend:
– Firstly, as well as those spontaneous times, having fun can be built into our daily or our weekly routine…. “Monday night is games night” A fun little bedtime routine, or special outings they know are coming up, and can look forward to.
-Secondly, I encourage parents to find things that they actually enjoy doing. That way playing won’t be boring or tedious, and you won’t need to “pretend” to be having fun. For you and your family it might be going for walks up the bush, or baking together, or finding new places to buy ice-cream, or building things out in the shed.
I heard about one family who would go on “pyjama runs”. This would happen spontaneously, when all the children were in their pyjamas and ready for bed. The dad would suddenly announce “Let’s go on a pyjama run!” and they would pile into the car and go out and buy ice-cream cones.
Another family would have “feral friday” every week. Each Friday night they would do a normal activity in an abnormal way. Like eat their dinner under the table instead of at the table.
It doesn’t matter so much what it is, and it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.
I’m thankful for a wise six year-old, who noticed the funnest minute, and pointed it out to me.