I have a confession to make, I am not good at play time. My first reaction to just about any situation is to “do what needs to be done”. For example, Charlotte is playing with her little kitchen and a few feet away is a basket of clean, unfolded laundry. My first reaction would be to not engage in play time with Charlotte and fold the laundry. A lot of the time, I unfortunately “do what needs to be done”. This trait is something I really do NOT like about myself.
After reading the chapter for the month of May in The Happiness Project, it really made me think about my interactions not only with Charlotte but with Michael and Oscar, our dog. I will say that after I had Charlotte the house does not get cleaned all the time and the laundry usually falls behind. There is GREAT value in play and that is why the struggle to play vs. work is so hard. When I do play I feel like I have let Michael down by not getting the laundry done and when I work I feel like I have let Charlotte down. I know I am not the only mom that feels this way but the struggle is REAL!
Gretchen Rubin talks about four different ways to play and all of them were very difficult for me.
FIND MORE FUN
Finding more fun is all about doing something that is fun for ME. Not for Michael, Charlotte, or Oscar but for ME. I had to really stop and think about the things I did on a day-to-day basis and figure out what I was doing for fun. Turns out I do A LOT of things that I enjoy but hardly a thing that is truly fun. For example, I really enjoy blogging, cleaning, and organizing however I would not classify those as truly fun activities. Something that is truly fun to me would be a family day, date with Michael, or going dancing. I have come to realize that my fun activities can tend to be harder to organize. When I came to this realization, it made me realize something else I need to be deliberate about having fun. This will be a challenging task for as long as I live. Let me be clear, I am not upset by the fact that I do not do “fun” things everyday. I love my life and my family and do a lot of things that I enjoy, I will just need to put some effort into having more fun for me.
TAKE TIME TO BE SILLY
This one tends to be easier when you have a child. Children are silly by nature so I just take my cue from Charlotte and engage in the silliness. I also do my best to think, “What would Michael do?”. Michael tends to be more playful and silly than me so I just channel my inner Michael and do what he would do.
GO OFF THE PATH
Going off the path is tough for me when I am by myself. When I go places by myself I get in efficiency mode and hardly ever take a detour. However, when I am with other people I am more likely to either be ok with or suggest going off the path. I am not sure why that is but I become more adventurous with others.
START A COLLECTION
Starting a collection is a tough one. Clutter and nick knacks drive me crazy. I do not like to have extra stuff around that does not have a purpose. Purging belongings happens a couple of times a year for us because there are so many things that we do not need and someone else will actually use. When I thought about starting a collection I got very mixed feelings. Part of me feels like it is a waste of money and space but then on the other hand I think about people I know who have a collection of some sort and it is really interesting. The jury is still out on this one and I am ok with that. Finding something to collect does not need to happen right away. It should be the right thing at the right time.
This chapter was challenging to read. It made me evaluate how I really spend my time and what I am doing to make myself happy. Fortunately, Michael is constantly improving in this area. He is good at noticing when I need a fun day/activity just for me. I am so thankful that he takes that initiative! If you do not have someone who does that for you make a point to plan something fun just for you. Mark it on your calendar so it is set in stone and is not some vague idea that you will eventually get around to.
I really felt tested this month and I know both moms and dads struggle with the same things I am struggling with. When to play. When to work. When to do accommodate someone else in play time and when to have play time for me. I would love to know how you deal with the juggling work and play! Please feel free to share your thoughts below!