I have a confession to make.
I am not a “fun” mom.
From parenting magazines to pinterest to TV advertisements, it seems like the world is ready to gauge my parenting based on how “fun” I am and how “magical” I am making my children’s childhood. But, I feel like a failure in this area.
And, of course, any perceived “mom failure” = “mom guilt”. “After all,” my mind tells me, “I SHOULD be a ‘fun’ mom! I SHOULD be hiding plastic dinosaurs around the house at night, pretending that they are getting into mischief, for my children to find the next morning. I SHOULD be spending the afternoon with them outside playing giant tic-tac-toe with pool noodles. I SHOULD be…. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get my act together and make this happen?”
Then I look at the laundry hamper full of clothes that still need to be folded. Sigh.
The painful fact is, I am busy. I would love to be a fun mom! But I don’t have time to be a fun mom.
I am too busy trying to keep my kids on schedule with their school work. I am too busy washing the never ending pile of dishes in the sink. I am too busy running errands and cooking meals and mowing the lawn. I am too busy working from home while also trying to keep a reasonably clean house.
Yet I still feel this tremendous pressure to be a “fun” mom on top of it all.
Rewind 25 years: Has the “Fun Mom” expectation always been the reality?
Think back to your childhood. Was your mom a fun, playful mom? Did she feel this pressure to entertain you when you were a child?
My mom was NOT a “fun” mom. She was a busy missionary and school teacher. She would occasionally play a game with us or take us to a park. But it was seldom. Why? Because she was busy!
My mom provided a clean, orderly, inviting home for us. She cooked homemade meals and made sure that we had clean sheets on our beds and clean clothes to wear. If we were experiencing problems, my mom would hand us a dish towel, and we would talk through the problems while she washed dishes and we dried. My mom took the time to teach us how to work and be independent.
If my siblings and I wanted to have fun, we went outside and played with each other or our neighborhood friends. We made our own crafts or planted our own gardens or built our own forts or started our own soccer games. We didn’t even think of going to my mom and demanding that she find something fun for us to do (mostly because we would have received additional chores).
But there was never any doubt in my mind that my mom loved me, in spite of the fact that my mom wasn’t a “FUN” mom. She offered so much love, security, peace, and wisdom to my siblings and me.
So why do I feel like my worth as a parent is measured solely by the number of “fun” experiences that I share with my children?
Perhaps many of us parents have become confused about our roles in our children’s lives. God has placed children into our homes so that we can protect them, teach them, and prepare them to be independent adults. We shouldn’t be afraid of teaching them to work and disciplining them for their good, even if it makes them not “like us” for a time. God has given us the responsibility to be parents to our children, not “fun friends”.
Instead of focusing on “fun” experiences, maybe we should be more concerned with providing our children security and teaching them to work. We should be helping them to develop their characters and preparing them to become adults. If we don’t have time to be “fun” on top of these responsibilities, that’s OK.
I am not saying that, as parents, we shouldn’t try to make fun memories with our kids. We definitely should! But let’s let go of the “Mommy Guilt” that we have to be providing these fun memories everyday.
Let’s stop measuring our value as parents with the yard stick of fun experiences.
What does this mean for me personally? I want to develop a handful of fun traditions for my own family that we can enjoy annually. I want to make more breathing room in my schedule for taking the kids on walks or to the park once in a while. I want to continue making time for crafts and reading together.
But hiding the plastic dinosaurs? I don’t have time for that right now. And, I am NOT going to feel guilty about it. Dinner needs to be cooked, and I don’t have time to entertain my children at the moment.
Because, when push comes to shove, I am not a FUN parent.
And I am totally OK with that!
How about you? Do you agree or disagree? Do you feel this pressure to be a FUN parent? Was your mom a FUN mom? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please scroll down to comment.
Wonderfully written! I am a mother of seven children under the age of 18. I have looked at other mothers, and asked myself, “Why can’t I make it happen??” I must be doing something wrong!! I am a full-time “stay at home” wife and mother! My husband and I wake at 4:30 every morning to begin our days. Our children wake at 5:30. They are filled with work…. trying to get the children to learn to work along side us, teaching them to get along with each other, teaching them the teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ, endless mounds of homework, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and all other things you do as you raise and teach a family! I am not one that can just let everything go! There are days when we let all loose and do things completely out of the norm, but it is not an every day occurrence. There has to be some kind of order and functionality at our place or we are enveloped in chaos! I can’t raise seven children in chaos!! I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you.
I love this, Amy! Thank you for commenting. May God bless you and your family.
Thank you so much. My son just started school, and I miss him so much for that 40 hours a week. But I also feel so relieved that my house is swept, laundry is actually done on schedule, and life is loosened up a little. I have several “fun” things I do with the kids, like we have a dance party every day. But this is mostly just to get them moving since we live in an apartment on a busy street and I can’t send them outside. I have never been all that much into fun. I was into reading and studying even as a kid. Now as a missionary mommy, I hope to be just like you describe here. Now I just need to get rid of that mommy guilt and shame and rely on God. Thank you.
I still struggle with finding balance in this everyday and overcoming the “mommy guilt”. But God is so good! May God bless you and your family, Annie.
Thank you I have a bad back even when u want to scoop my sons and carry them i can’t. I have to kneel down or sit for a hug I don’t last long on my feet the best fun is lying down making faces and taking selfies. And of course I look with envy at those who can chase their kids around. Overwhelmed with a everything dat needs to be done adds to the mix…..thank you
Hlengiwe, it sounds like you totally are a “fun” mom – lying down making faces and taking selfies! I admire your positive spirit and courage to face the life that God has given you with strength and hope. You are teaching your kids such an amazing lesson through your life. May God bless you and keep and carry you through the times of pain and overwhelm.
Anna, you are a wise young woman. I’m 64 and always had a nagging guilt that I wasn’t a fun mom. It’s my nature to be serious firstly and secondly I was a single mom. Of course we did some fun things and I always did my best. When small problems arose in my adult children that’s always what I think of first….if I was only more fun….so Thank You!
I think you confuse the term “fun” with “creating memories”. Agreed life is busy and we shouldn’t feel our children’s lives with stuff and things but every so often, the park and ice cream creates memories and I’d rather create memories. Because at the end of this life, dirty laundry and dishes won’t matter. Making sure my son knew I was never to busy for him for life stuff is what matters. That’s what’s wrong with this world today, we don’t just stop every so often and play with our kids. My son, I hope out lives me, and grows to be an old man….not only will he be successful and independent but he will have memories to cherish.
Shame on this article. Putting work, and chores before an afternoon at the park with your kids should absolutely produce guilt. You don’t have to do it every day but do it.
I get things have to get done but both my husband and son are terminally ill and I treasure more each day they’re given with me. Life and tomorrow are guaranteed to no one. Make today and these moments count.
I agree with you, Lauren, we should be making memories a priority. And, I absolutely put work aside to go sledding with my kids or to the park. But, I don’t need to feel guilty if I am not doing this EVERY DAY. So, I think we actually agree. It is a constant balancing act, for sure. As your husband and your son are terminally ill, you have a deeper perspective on the brevity of life than those of us who have never faced that. Thank you for that reminder. May God bless you and your family and be with you during this unimaginably difficult time.
Thankyou for writing this. I am not a fun mum but I am a mum who loves her children very much. I have 3 daughters, 25, 23 & 9. The older two now say thankyou for how they were raised, for the traditions our family have made. My role is to provide unconditional love, guidance (not control), safety and a nurturing environment . Our fun comes being together, cooking together, laughing and feeling like we can just be ourselves. I think I can honestly say we are blessed and don’t need pool noodles to make it better.
Pauline, you put this so clearly. Thanks for your insight. May God bless you and your family!
Thank you so much for posting this! I feel like every other mom has all of these super fun tasks for their children to do and it’s taking all that’s within me to just try to keep our house tidy. And I have often thought am I the only one in this world who doesn’t make homemade lunchables and pretty little pb&j sandwiches??? Or that has perfectly created crafts for my child to do on a rainy day??? Sometimes I get so overwhelmed and have the wave of guilt that hits me! But my brother and I played together so much that honestly I don’t ever remember her doing “fun” things with us bc she just expected us to play together and get along. And now I am perfectly independent! I’m just glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!
I know exactly how you feel! We need to strive to be “good” moms and let the unreasonable expectations and guilt go. May God bless you!
Thank you for the reminder and the release of the guilt! Balance is such a difficult thing, especially since I’m on a different path than my mom took. I have double the number of children and we homeschool. I still haven’t figured out how to keep the house actually clean (it isn’t surface filthy, but I wouldn’t want a close examination of any room!), cook meals everyone will eat, lead the children in their learning (how scheduled and difficult should school be? or keep it relaxed and focus on just the major stuff?), plus still be a wife to my hubby! It is a full-time, wonderful calling to be a Christian mom, but I’m not sure that easy or fun ever really become the focus of this life. But, to be perfectly honest, I really wish it could! I WANT to be fun with my kids….and I think that for them, that really just means being totally present with them (and even that is difficult to pull off these days). Just my ramblings…..thank you for giving me much to ponder!
Wow. I really needed this right now! I am not a fun mom either. And it’s ok! Thank you.
I agree. I am so busy with raising a family, homeschooling, and cleaning that I often don’t have time to be fun. But I do try to play with the kids in the evening a few times a week. And we try to read each night.
I just don’t want to be so consumed in everyday life that I am not as present in my children’s lives even though we are together all day.
If I stopped and played everytime my kids asked I would never catch up on the house work. I try to give them fun things to play with and they can all play together and entertain themselves.
I remember as a child, my mom took care of the house and I played with my friends or by myself. We did play board games once a week. I never remember a messy house.
It takes work to run a home.
I agree, Jessica! Finding that balance between being present in our kids’ lives and running a well functioning home is difficult. May God bless you.
I’d have to agree. I’m not a fun mom either. I’ve struggled with it recently in light of my oldest’s birthday coming up. I see these beautiful (and time consuming) decorations on Pinterest, or people throwing these grand backyard galas. I’m wondering if I should make chocolate cupcakes or funfetti. Should we have 1 or 2 little friends over? How much energy and $$ should I put into this annual event? Good points. 🙂
Ahhh, Sarah, the birthday party dilemma! Just out of curiosity, how much energy, time, and money did your mom put into your birthday parties when you were young? Did you enjoy them?
I have one friend who throws a huge party for her kids when they turn ten years old. That’s it. The rest of the parties are just quiet events. I only remember one “big” birthday party when I was growing up. But, I loved the quiet, simple birthdays just as much.
Kids don’t need nearly as much entertainment as we think they do. I am afraid that often the pressure to provide huge birthday parties is coming from ourselves, our friends, and social media (the same places where we are getting pressure to be “fun” moms). But I might be wrong, and my kids might hate me one day. 🙂
Thank you for this!!! I’m always feeling the same guilt! Worried i wasn’t being as good a mom as my neighbor. You’re post is helping me to let go. I really appreciate you sharing. 🙂
Thanks, Sylvanna. May God bless you as you let go of this guilt. You are not alone on this journey!
You are spot on. Every family needs to find the right balance for their family — and not feel guilty about it!
Yes! I love how you put that – Every family needs to find their own balance of “fun”, and nobody should feel guilty if their “balance” looks different from someone else’s. Thank you for stopping by, Dorothy.