Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sarah Reinhard shares "Five Ways to Have Fun with Family Fun"

Happy to welcome author and blogger Sarah Reinhard to this space today. Her new book Catholic Family Fun just came out and it's, well, fun, and funny... It reminds us that fun and joy and, gosh, just being together as a family is some of the best glue that binds hearts and minds. So make some funnish plans and see what happens! (Cuz you know, even tho' spontaneous fun is grand, we all know how darn busy we can be. So read this book and try an new idea or two.) Enjoy the joie de vivre and the random silliness that may follow and remember blessed are those who don't take themselves too seriously. Look for Sarah Reinhard to be a guest on an upcoming episode of Among Women. (But until then you can look back to her guest slots on Among Women 11116.)

Five Ways to Have Fun with Family Fun

It still seems unlikely to me that *I* am the author of Catholic Family Fun: A Guide for the Adventurous, Overwhelmed, Creative, or Clueless, because, so often, I feel like I'm firmly planted in the Land of the Clueless.

Here are five ways I’ve found to make my attempts at family fun actually enjoyable for me, the mom who has to plan, execute, and repeat. I find that, when I can remember to follow my own advice, my instances of family fun burnout are less frequent and my ability to laugh is more sincere.

1. Plan ahead (as much as you can)
Though I like to act like I’m a Type A person, the reality of my life and my big streak of laziness often combine to make me far less prepared than I should be. I’ve learned that planning ahead is the best way to enjoy family fun. That way, I’m not scrambling at the last minute for everything (just for that one thing I forgot).

2. Remain flexible (also known as “being an optimist”)
This is, admittedly, pretty hard for me. I want to plan and then stick with the plan. After all, isn’t that what a plan is for? Well, yes and no. When you have other people involved, and when those other people might have their own ideas about things, then the plan can be more like a guideline than a hard-and-fast procedure. This also allows me to have a mindset that doesn’t see a problem but a different opportunity for fun.

3. Get input from the other participants (and then ignore it if necessary)
It’s helpful to find out what the kids want to do and to think of what they’re naturally inclined to enjoy. Sometimes, though, they aren’t very helpful with their input. (“That dinner was terrible, Mom. Don’t make it ever again. Oh, and we want chocolate.”) You’re the adult, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask them for input (or solicit it in some sneaky detective-type way). If they’re invested in what you’re going to do, it might change the entire tone and fun-level. Then again, it might not. You be the judge.

4. Accept imperfection (because perfection can be highly overrated)
Why is it that I have an idea of what this fun thing will look like, and that idea is “perfect”? Nothing and no one can live up to my ideal, my “perfect” family fun. For one thing, there is no such “perfect” family. For another, someone’s sure to throw some sort of wrench into things. (I may even be the wrench-thrower!) Starting out with a standard that doesn’t demand the elusive perfection is a must for me, and it might just be something for you to embrace, too!

5. Smile (even if you’re faking it)
Hey, we’re here to have FUN, right? So why is the four-year-old crying, the seven-year-old pouting, and the 35-year-old huffing? Oh, wait. YOUR family might not have a problem with this or need a reminder. But me? I need this reminder. A lot. I need to keep my focus on the family, on the fun, on the faith that ties us all together. And then? I need to smile. Funny how just moving my lips into the shape of a smile can change my outlook…

What are YOUR tips for having fun with your family fun?

Sarah Reinhard shares her struggles and triumphs, muses and ramblings, reading and links at  

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