While visiting Bocas Del Torro, Panama, my husband and I and our four children agreed to take an unexpected boat tour that was offered to us by a local.
We soon learned that we were in search of dolphins. We hadn’t planned on this excursion, and not knowing exactly what to expect, we set out into the bay in search of adventure. We eagerly scanned the horizon for any signs of the underwater mammal.
Out of nowhere, the dolphins made their appearance – splashing, jumping, diving, playing.
Squeals of delight escaped our lips, and I clicked my camera shutter continuously in an effort to capture these beautiful and fast-moving creatures. For over an hour this spectacle of nature captivated us. The dolphins left us with an overwhelming sense of awe.
Our dolphin adventure occurred nearly four years ago, when our children were all under the age of five. And yet, it continues to be one of our most memorable experiences together.
From this I learned that great experiences don’t happen by accident. Fun doesn’t usually occur in a vacuum or in a strict, over-stressed regimen. While you can’t force family fun, you do have to make a place for it. You need to give it space so it can serendipitously creep up on you.
Even though the dolphin tour wasn’t planned to happen exactly the way it did, it occurred because we made a place for fun and adventure; this incredible family experience occurred because we designed our life so we could get away from our regular routines, and set aside free time for fun to happen.
If our lives are so crammed full of soccer games, music lessons, HOA meetings, and obligatory social functions – and the accompanying hustle and bustle – can we expect to have opportunities for fun together?
If we are so tired when we get home that we plop in front of the tube, or fall into bed – how will fun be able to find us?
Fun needs the right environment to occur – relaxed down time, with no schedules or expectations.
And when the setting is right, fortuity will smile upon us, and fun will overflow from the inside out – like blowing bubbles in your milk with a straw.
So how do we leave time for fun, when our calendars are already filled to the brim with duties and ‘to do’s’?
1. Take Responsibility
Realize that you have the power to design your life to be the way you want it to be. No one is forcing you to do anything. If you feel that your life is over-full, take a hard look at what is filling it up, and determine to eliminate anything that isn’t adding real value to you and your family relationships. Simplifying your schedule can do wonders for freeing up ‘fun’ time.
2. Schedule Time
You don’t have to schedule the fun, or plan to make sure it happens, just schedule the time to allow it to happen. Set aside an hour or two in the evening, a day each week, or a week each quarter to just do nothing…or whatever your heart desires. Fun and laughter will surely result.
3. Get Away
Changing your environment and getting out of your routine is one of the best ways to relax and make room for a good time. When you’re at home, you feel like you need to be accomplishing something: folding the laundry, prepping dinner, crossing off one more to-do.
When you get away from the daily regimen, it gives your mind the freedom to focus on a good family time, to laugh at your kids’ jokes, enjoy their smiles, and play games.
You and your family need to have fun together, to relax, giggle, and just enjoy each others company. It strengthens your family ties and improves your relationships. And the best way to make sure that happens is with purposeful planning for unhampered play time.
QUESTION: Are you too over-scheduled to make time for fun? Is there something you can eliminate?
CHALLENGE: Set aside a few hours or a day for fun. Then tell us below how your family had fun.