Many years ago I hit the reset button on life. One of the handful of times I started over.
This was the first time, when my marriage to my high school sweetheart was officially over. I was just 21 years old when we divorced and I began anew. You can imagine, I didn’t know the first thing I was doing.
A small town girl, I grew up in a rural town in Wisconsin and shared a life with my childhood crush. Quite quickly I was thrust into an entirely new life: fast pace, big city, a whole new world. And dating, good Lord.
I met a boy. He asked me on a date and I said yes. But as the week moved on I never heard about his plans. Coming off a broken marriage I wasn’t the most confident to begin with, and he was a lot older. A totally free spirit. So different than anyone I had ever known. Not yet comfortable being alone, I made other plans.
On Friday he approached with a playful smile, “So, what do you want to do?” Totally embarrassed I dropped my eyes and said something like: ‘Well, when you didn’t tell me what we were doing I made other plans.’ He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said: “Tammy, you don’t plan fun – fun happens.”
I felt like the biggest loser on the planet.
That short sentence has stuck with me the last 14 years: “You don’t plan fun, fun happens.”
And you know what? He was right.
We live a fast paced life. Though I no longer live in the big city, life certainly isn’t slow. With three kids, a husband, sports, friends and my own desires and interests life can get pretty crazy in a heartbeat. I’m sure you can relate.
Much of the time we live in a perpetual state of busyness. Each of us wants to participate, be involved, belong. We want to say yes!
We want our kids to experience life to the fullest; have every opportunity we had and more. But in the interest of having fun, I’ve noticed we’re not having very much fun anymore.
We’re trying to plan it. Force it. Schedule it even! Enrolling our kids in sports, camps, music lessons, and endless activities where they can play and have “fun.” As a result we’re over scheduled, exhausted, disheartened and disconnected.
We’re disappointed in ourselves because we can’t do it all. We can’t pick them up, run them there, be with them here, balance our responsibilities, pour into our marriages and friendships, create meaningful time together, and make time for ourselves. We feel like we’re failing at everything because we’re trying to do too much.
So all those years ago, a decade before i had kids, this guy was right. But not entirely right.
Last spring our little family took a spontaneous trip to sunshine. We had absolutely no plans other than getting on a plane in search of summer. Wide open time for fun to happen….and we had the best weekend ever.
We had so much fun that our boys fell asleep on the pool deck, in our arms at dinner, on airplanes, and slept for 16 hours straight when we got home! It was big fun. And it happened without a single plan other than being together.
A few days of gloriously unscheduled free time.
What I learned is although you don’t plan it, you must make room for fun.
And in order to make room for fun there has to be space. Just because we’re planning it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily having it.
It runs counter to everything we know. We think if we just plan, we can make it happen. But as a rule we over plan and over do, because more is better, right? But when reality hits, more ends up being frayed and frantic. More is tired, weary and overwhelmed.
More, it turns out, is really less.
I read a quote the other day from Dr. Suess and it’s stuck: “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
We only have a finite amount of time and we’re blessed to be moms of young children for a very short window of our lives. And as much as I want it to pass quickly on long difficult whine-filled days, I look to the near future with an anxious heart. I don’t want to miss it.
These precious moments that I have my babies with me. Safe. Pulling dandelions to put in my hair, messing up our home with dirty feet and greasy fingerprints, inconveniencing my life. Teaching me to what it means to be selfless, to love unconditionally and reminding me what is important.
This is the time to develop relationships. To know them. To pour into them with unconditional love. To give them my time and my heart. To provide opportunities for us to grow and learn together, to be involved and belong.
But more importantly, to belong to us: our family.
To invest in them and instill the value of being part of a team. Not just a basketball, volleyball or a soccer team — I mean yes, but more importantly: our family team. One not over scheduled or overburdened, but one where we sit together, play together, explore and create together. Where there is time to eat meals as a family and build connections with one another. One where there is room for fun.
So I’m making lists. I’m writing down our commitments and I’m crossing things off. Remember that trip I told you about last spring? We’re going again. Without a single plan but sunshine.
So to repeat Dr. Suess, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
1. Subtract more
2. Add less
Join me in an act of defiance against the culture of crazy busy and make room for fun. I think you’ll be so glad you did.