Are We Having Fun Yet?

March 07, 2014

When you were a kid, didn’t you think being an adult was going to be awesome? You’d be free—no one would tell you what to do, you could play all day if you wanted to, eat what you wanted, go to bed (and get up) when you wanted to. You’d fill your days with fun!

Scout and Nick: these two knew how to have fun.

I don’t know about you, but except for dimly-remembered college breaks, adulthood hasn’t followed that pattern for me! I’ve gone from college to working full time, to raising a child while working part time, all the while taking charge of an apartment or house, etc. Even now, with my child in college and with no job to report to, I spend most of my time doing things to keep my life running: shopping, cooking, cleaning, oil changes, doctor’s appointments, vet appointments, doing research and writing, exercising (because I want to be healthy, not because I love it), paying bills… When, exactly, is all that adult fun going to start?

I enjoy (to some extent) and value almost everything I do, but I do few things “just for fun.” I also manage to turn things that should be just for fun into learning opportunities instead of just play. Take reading, for example. I can’t just read for fun. I have to take part in reading challenges. Though I am careful to choose only challenges that appeal to me and don’t seem too difficult to complete, somehow labeling it a “challenge” adds an element of pressure to reading.

What about spending time with my horse? When I ride, I’m not just having fun. I’m working to become a better rider or teaching him something, even when I’m not taking a lesson.

I’m not saying learning opportunities, challenging myself, and so on is bad. On the contrary, I think using things I like doing to learn and grow is a great idea. I also think that I take it to extremes.

I really want to have more plain, old fun and to live more lightheartedly, so here are a few things I’m doing right now to make that happen:

Adjusting my attitude. I’m stepping back from the “challenge” aspect of my reading challenges and simply choosing the book I most want to read right now.  With Tank, I’m lightening up my expectations of our time together, and at least once a week just hanging out with him with no agenda.

Increasing the fun factor in areas that aren’t primarily fun—like cleaning the house. I listen to music on my iPod or I turn on a favorite TV show and clean while watching, or during commercials. (I’ve whipped my kitchen into shape in the past two weeks watching HGTV.) I open Pandora while working in my office (I’m typing to Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” right now.) I set a timer for 15 minutes and promise to quit work when it goes off and do something just for fun, like play with Prudy or read (for fun!).

Doing something just for the fun of it. No other reason. Just because I want to. Not because I’ll learn something or help someone, just for fun. Something that just occurs to me—like going to a food truck rally or spending the entire day in my pajamas.

Managing “false fun.” Who am I kidding? I have plenty of free time to do fun things—it’s just that I spend more of it than I’d like to in front of a screen, whether surfing the internet or watching TV. I enjoy both of those activities, and I don’t want to cut them out completely. So I have to manage them so I don’t play on the computer or watch TV when I have the mental and physical energy to do more worthwhile things, and so that they don’t eat up more time than they deserve.

It seems a bit ridiculous to have to put this much thought into fun—but I don’t think I’m alone in being hyper responsible sometimes, in feeling guilty if I’m not doing something “productive” all the time. I’m productive enough. And so are you. So let’s have some fun!

What do you do just for fun? When was the last time you did something just for the fun of it?

Wanna hang out?

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