Q: Family life has so many responsibilies; all I ever talk with my husband about is bills and schedules, and all I ever talk with my kids about is homework and behavior. I vaguely remember a time when I used to laugh and we used to have fun. How do I try and reclaim that?
A: When I was pregnant with my first child, a friend shared that his young daughter had woken him at 3am asking for a bowl of cereal, and he dutifully sat with her at the kitchen table while she ate. I was shocked. My idea of impending motherhood had included all sorts of dos and don't, bests and betters - and none of them included allowing my preschool child to wake me in the middle of the night for breakfast food. But in reality, this small and simple lesson was exactly what I needed.
There is a time and a place for rules, for structure. Bills have to be paid, homework has to be done, and it's correct to expect proper behavior from kids. But you've got to allow for the silly, the unexpected. You've got to be willing to eat cereal at 3am.
If you've laid a strong foundation, and your family knows what's expected of them, one little foray into sillyness won't tear everyone off-track, not for long anyway. Play is important. It brings families together, helps to create priceless memories, and gives relief from the ordinary stresses of life. It makes you feel you again.
Think of something - right now - that you enjoy doing with your family. Be fiercely committed to making it happen, whether it be a tennis game at the local court, or a roadtrip to the next state. Be fearless in allowing yourself to laugh and do the unexpected. You simply must protect that playful part of your spirit that puts the rest of life in perspective.