Family Fun When Life Isn’t Fun

By Melissa

Remember four hundred years ago (or January) when we talked about Family Fun Day? That seems like such a distant memory at this point. Philip’s work schedule has since changed, making it a little difficult sometimes to remember to make time for family fun. Add to that, for the past two weeks I’ve been at home full time and our kids have been out of school for three weeks and counting. All while being quarantined. Needless to say, it’s hard to prioritize Family Fun when life seems a little less than fun. 

But last weekend we did it! While we can’t use our beloved POGO Passes due to social distancing, we can still take advantage of the beautiful weather in AZ. We drove a solid 12 minutes from our house to the Salt River and threw rocks. Then we walked along a little path and let the kids lead and explore and take as long as they wanted to look at bugs and flowers and sticks. We finished by eating a ton of snacks that I had packed, because that always makes an adventure seem a little better.

Anyway, I have to say, it had been a LONG week, my patience had run thin on more than one occasion, and I needed a reminder as to why I liked my kids. This. Was. Perfect. I took a million pictures of my kids, even when they were being a little rotten, and in no time I will forget that the morning adventure was anything but idyllic. 

So as we move forward with quarantine for who knows how long, it is inevitable that I might lose my cool on occasion (read: several times daily). Unfortunately, I’m not the type of mom that has a color coded schedule. (And in those schedules that were going around at first, why did none of them have time blocked off for a good cry and a good nap? Because I feel it is necessary at times.) But despite not having a schedule, we have enough of a routine that we’ve been doing okay. I’ve googled a million different things to do with kids, and how to keep them entertained, and I’ve landed on five things that are ACTUALLY working for us right now.

Playing with Ice

It’s as simple as it sounds. I freeze water in ice trays. Sometimes I add food coloring, sometimes I add toys sticking half way out, sometimes we don’t. When we pop the ice cubes out of the trays, the kids go nuts. They melt them in water, they sort them, they bite them, the smash them. For how little time, effort and materials go into prep, it is our favorite activity!

Ride Ho Hos

I’ve talked about this silly term before, but all it is is going for a drive. Yesterday we drove to an area of town where I know there are a lot of little family farms and whatnot. We drove slowly with the windows down (which is key here) and spotted horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, donkeys and even emus! It was only a few miles from our house, but because we drove up and down all of the streets, we were able to eat up a good chunk of the morning.

LEGO Masters on Hulu

Okay, I heard this mentioned by Young House Love on their podcast this week and thought that maybe Maren would enjoy it. You guys. I might have a reality tv junkie on my hands! She is SO SO into it! It is a LEGO building competition, and the skill and creativity is next level. The best part is that it has reignited Maren’s love for her own LEGO play! She has spent hours each day playing with her limited amount of blocks and is trying to create new ways for her sets to work. I cannot believe how much happiness this silly show has brought into our days. I think my favorite quote from tonight was, when briefing me on what I missed, “They only have eight hours and it’s the biggest build yet!” Like seriously, could she be any cuter?

Singing Time

Let’s start with this: I am not a musical person. Like singing in front of people/karaoke is my worst nightmare. That being said, I’ll sing with my kids. It started the other day when Jade was being an animal while I was trying to change her diaper. I started singing “Popcorn Popping” and she calmed down, and by the time I was done with her diaper and the song, Cohen had stopped what he was doing to be a part of this singing. So what did I do? I started the next song! I only do it for maybe 10-15 minutes, but the kids eat it up. Even Maren who might be considered too old, loves to sing with Jade and feel like she’s teaching her something new. It isn’t hard, and it definitely pays off!

Turn on the Hose

Yep. Turn on the hose. Done! I often will get out bins, cups, scoops and such for them to play with, but more often than not, they ditch the accessories and just want the hose. Another fun twist is to put a drop of food coloring at the bottom of a few pitchers or large cups and let the kids fill them up to see the colors come to life. Then they can mix or pour, or just keep the hose in there forever to see how long it takes for there to be no color at all! But honestly, this is so easy. I will often do it first thing in the morning, after they’ve eaten breakfast but before they change out of jammies (if it is a change out of jammies kind of day), or after dinner before they are heading up to the bathtub. Or if time is ticking backwards midday, it works then too!

Surviving not Thriving

As much as I would love to say that these activities make every day rosy, they don’t. You guys, right now kinda sucks for us. Maybe it does for you too? I know a lot of moms are enjoying extra time with their kids, but I’m not necessarily that mom. It is tricky because I recognize how blessed we are, but at the same time, want to bang my head against the wall. The days are so long, and often monotonous. My kindergartener and preschooler don’t have any school assignments that they need to be keeping up on, so it is all me, all day. In fact, Philip even said yesterday, “Sorry you’re having to do quarantine life all by yourself and my life is exactly the same as it was before.” It’s fine, I’m glad he has a job right now, but the days. are. long.

So if you are out there and shaking your fist at the thriving moms that seem to have everything under control, I’ve gotcha. Parenting is hard. Then add to that not leaving the house, feeling alone, stressing for small businesses, stressing about the health of those you love, having to MAKE FOUR HUNDRED MEALS A DAY, always having more dishes to do, having a house that is a wreck, having a baby that learned how to climb out of her crib this week, having that same baby make all the messes, aaaaaaaaaaand shoot, let’s throw in financial stress due to not working. Yeah, it’s a lot. And I know that you guys are going through just as much, if not more! It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to just survive this time.

But! That being said, you need a little fun.

That’s Why Family Fun is Important

Certainly, I’m not going to soon forget how difficult this stage and time of life is with these circumstances. But! My kids are little and they don’t really get the gravity of it all. So, we focus on the fun. After our Ride Ho Ho yesterday, we talked nonstop about the animals we saw! I made them tell their dad when he got home how fun it was! Did they really have the time of their lives? Probably not, but if I can brainwash them into remembering the highs rather than the lows, then I’m calling that good.

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