If you’re not having fun as a mom, you’re definitely not alone. A few years ago, I picked the book All Joy and No Fun, by Jennifer Senior, in an airport bookstore on a work trip. The title resonated with me because I was feeling tremendous love, bonding, and connection with my young children, but not having a lot of fun in my life. The book discusses the massive paradigm shift for parenting over the past century, which has changed our expectations of ourselves during parenthood, particularly for mothers. As a result of that shift, parents are having less fun, even though we see our parenting roles as even more meaningful and important than ever before.
When I was deep in the throes of my personal mom crisis, I couldn’t get through the book. Senior delves into the many challenges that American parents face, including lack of social support in families and neighborhoods, increased child care costs and cost of living, and longer hours and more demanding workplace standards. That was my reality, but nothing I tried seemed to work to fix it.
Although I gave up on the book, I didn’t give up on finding a way out of the mom crisis I was in. Just when I felt like I was drowning and trapped by the demands of my life, I got the opportunity to work with a coach. My coach helped me see what was really keeping me stuck and she helped me find a way through it. With her help, I was able to identify what really mattered to me, which allowed me to make some powerful, life-changing decisions. I figured out what I really wanted to do (become a Life and Leadership Coach) and she helped me find a way to leave my job.
As I continued on my journey and started my coaching business, I realized how hesitant I still was to make myself a priority, even when I was my own boss. I started having health issues, which were my body’s wake-up call to start taking care of myself. My coach helped me realize that I was compartmentalizing myself by addressing my physical health, but ignoring my emotional wellbeing and happiness. I finally got it: having fun, enjoying myself, and taking care of myself physically all had to be a top priority.
Now, just a few years after I first picked up All Joy and No Fun, my life looks completely different. I get 8 hours of sleep, eat healthy food, take long walks, go to yoga and meditation classes, play guitar, have “dance parties” in the living room with my kids, and go on date-nights with my husband. Music is an important part of my life now, as are community and friends. Of course there are still things that I need to do that aren’t fun — life is still 50/50, after all — but I weave fun into every aspect of my life now, which never felt possible before.
Having more fun hasn’t just been good for me — it’s also been good for my kids. Children enjoy being with their parents much more when the parents transition into what psychologist Eric Berne called the child ego state, which is a more playful state of being. Not only do they enjoy being around us when we’re having fun, but they also learn empathy when they understand other people’s happiness is important, too.
As I continue to practice this in my own life, I’m also showing my private clients how to make time for and prioritize fun in their own lives and they’re getting amazing results.
All Joy and No Fun chronicles one way of parenting that many people are experiencing. But there’s a better way. It’s called Motherhood 2.0. It’s a new way of being, which allows you to truly enjoy this precious time with your children, while having the time of your life. Joy AND fun.
If you’re not having fun, let’s talk. I would be delighted to help.