That declaration was the culmination of a “discussion” I had with my husband one evening when I had had enough. I was tired and resentful and frustrated. And I was upset. Just a few hours earlier, putting Little Miss to bed, she declared – “You are always so grouchy Mummy. Why can’t you be more fun like Daddy?”

You can imagine the buttons this honest, yet innocent question pushed!

  1. I am grouchy because I am tired.
  2. I am grouchy because I am tired of knowing what is best while your “fun” daddy runs rough-shod over it, in the name of fun (and an easy life).
  3. I am grouchy because I know I’m not always grouchy, but now I think that is completely how you see me and I don’t want you to see me only as being grouchy. I am sad.
  4. I am grouchy because I don’t want to be grouchy, but I’ve not had much opportunity for fun myself lately and that makes me feel sad too.
  5. I am grouchy because I want your daddy to be a responsible parent with you too and for one evening be the one who sticks to the routine and makes you brush your teeth and gets you to bed on time while I chase you round the house and tumble with you to the floor in a fit of giggles with no care for the time or if your teeth are furry.

Just once, I want to be the FUN ONE!

In every relationship and co-habitation there is a natural division of roles and labour, and this is no truer than when a baby arrives. Because of the nature of our society, the mother tends to be the primary caregiver and generally spends the most time looking after baby. The natural “division” of care for the baby goes to the mother. Along with this care, comes the bulk of the everyday responsibilities of feeding, dressing, and sleeping. Most often the boring and mundane, yet essential, details and routine of every day parenting falls to the mother.

The division of responsibility and role can be a natural stumbling point for couples entering parenthood and is a dynamic I often support couples in working through successfully. It is absolutely important to have an ongoing conversation with your partner about your responsibilities and roles as your parenting develops. The moment you begin to start feeling resentful and frustrated, it is a clear indication that something is out of balance within your parenting dynamic.

There are key factors that potentially result in these feelings and obvious reasons why you might find yourself having a conversation like the one above.

  • You are genuinely tired. Being tired has a huge impact on your ability to cope with parenting challenges. If you’re feeling more reactive, than responsive, take a look at your sleep and if it’s been lacking lately, that is your top priority.
  • You are feeling disconnected from your partner. When was the last time you had time with each other? Connecting back to the foundation of your family is paramount to making it solid through the challenges you face. Make time for a date. And talk to each other – about each other, not about the kids.
  • You haven’t had any time to yourself lately. Taking time to reconnect with you, outside of mother is important to your feeling centred and happy in your parenting. It is not selfish to take “me” time, but vital to good and effective parenting. At the very least, breathe. Have a cup of tea and give yourself the space to relax, if even for just a moment.

When these key factors have been addressed, you will probably feel more clam, rested, and able to respond rather than react to your parenting challenges. And you can be the fun one– even more so when you’ve taken care of these fundamental parenting foundations.

Being the fun one means you are relaxed and in an easy-go-lucky place in your mind. This can’t be achieved when you’re tired, stressed, overworked, or overwhelmed. The foundations of well parenting need to be in place before you’re able to successfully embrace being fun. And you can still keep the routine too!

How To Add the Fun to Your Parenting

  1. Make a smile the first response to your child at every opportunity. It makes such a difference to start a conversation with a smiling response rather than a frown. If there is reason for a frown, make this the second thing you greet your child with, not the first.
  2. Make light of a situation whenever you can. It is OK there’s been a spillage, it was an accident and can be cleaned up in a moment.
  3. Routine and fun can go together it is just how you approach it. “OK honey, it’s time for your bath now. Shall we fly those toy aeroplanes up to the bath and give them a wash too?” It may mean a slight deviation to how you expect the evening to go but… the bath is done AND your little one is having fun with you.
  4. Think about the end result rather than how you get there. It is important your little one has a bath. Does it matter whether it’s under the hose on a lovely summer’s evening or in the sink, body part by body part?
  5. Actively choose fun. Feeling tense and wound up? Invite your little one to a dance party in the living for a few minutes. Moods are darkening? Start a chase and catch game to burn off the tension for all of you.

Take some time to think about what ‘fun’ looks like for you. Parenting success comes from a place of being authentic so it is no good trying to be ‘fun daddy’ when it just doesn’t suit you. Find your own fun and that will be what your children remember about you and what makes you special too.

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoJames Wheeler

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