on being a fun mom

Since we’ve already established that I’m not a particularly fun person, it’s probably safe to say that I’m not what you would call a “fun mom” either.  What’s a fun mom?  I’m not sure how to describe it, but I know one when I see one, wouldn’t you agree?  Here’s what I wonder though.  If you’re fun all the time, doing little creative projects, special treats and elaborate outings for your kids every day, won’t they just end up expecting that sort of treatment, and not end up being appreciative of any of it?

There was a great Wall Street Journal article last week (do fun moms read the Wall Street Journal? — probably not) about the “millennials,” the generation hitting the workforce right now.  A group of them who were meeting with a consultant/coach about interviewing for jobs were asked, how do you think employers perceive you?  The coach told them she was thinking of a specific word, and it started with an ‘e’.  Excellent?  Energetic?  Enthusiastic?  No.  Entitled.  That is what I’m talking about.  (If you’re interested in reading the entire article, here’s the link.)

So I’m saving my kids from being future obnoxious adults by setting the bar pretty low.  Once in awhile I ask one of the older ones a few questions about how they think life in general is around here, and from what I can discern, I’m not scarring them too badly.  Here’s Sam’s recent birthday celebration.  I know fun moms have a party every year, but we’ve established ages 4, 7, 9, and 12 as party years (mostly because those were the years I felt like having one for Sam, and we had to be fair).  So this year was a “family party” year.

That cake was a winner, by the way.  One word:  ganache.  I bought an ice cream cake at Baskin Robbins one year, and was horrified by how expensive it was and how cute it wasn’t.  Now if one of the kids requests an ice cream cake, I make it myself.  Also, notice how I never spoil anyone’s fun by making them comb their hair or put a clean shirt on.  Besides the cake, we had a few gifts for him, and took the whole family out for a dinner of his choice.  Nothing very elaborate or exciting, but not what I would consider deprivation either.

I was particularly grumpy, sluggish, and whiny last week, and therefore even less fun than usual, so I decided that on Friday (my kids get out of school early every Friday) I should take them to do something extra fun.  Off we went to Gardner Village to hunt for witches (if you live in Utah and have no idea what that means, let me know),

after which we got everyone a haircut, for obvious reasons, following which we picked out pumpkins for carving this week.  Oh, and on Saturday we made cut-out Halloween cookies, complete with homemade frosting and sprinkles, an activity which requires my complete patience (Is it just me, or are cut-out cookies a royal pain?). 

Here’s what I think about all of this fun.  First of all, because I so seldom provide this level of entertainment for my children, I think I should get some kind of “mom bonus” for a day like that — like a pedicure or something.  (Now who’s entitled?)  Second, I think we can be doing all the fun things in the world, and I still might not be a really fun mom, with all of the “stop hitting your brother!” and “no more raw dough for you!”

So, as much as I occasionally feel guilty for not having a daily craft time, never making anyone a special birthday banner, and inserting as much time in between trips to Disneyland as possible, I think I’ll just keep being who I am.  While we were finishing up the cookies, I had a discussion with Jon about how we should always say ‘thank you’ when someone does something nice for us.  He was the one who brought it up.  I later heard him say to Mary, “what do we say?”  “Thank you,” she replied.  And gratitude is the opposite of entitlement.

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10 thoughts on “on being a fun mom

  1. LCM

    I love that article. I read it out loud to TD because he’s the hiring manager in their office and he is constantly complaining about the amount of supervision he has to do. He says he finally understands what I was complaining about when I talked about the girls constantly hanging off me and how I couldn’t go anywhere without being followed.
    I am a fun mom, I just choose to dole it out to get the biggest return, I am also a lot more spontaneous, meaning, I do not tell them ahead of time,and it gives me more bang for my buck. Also, if I am too lazy to do it, they never know!

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    You are one of my shining examples of motherhood! The thing I really like about having boys is not worrying about clean shirts or brushed hair. We have a party for Samuel every other year, and we are currently planning Tuesday’s big celebration. I’ll be glad when it’s done!!

    Reply
  3. Amy Brinton

    As one of the “millennial generation,” I remember the crackdown on red ink when I was in elementary school. My mom’s reaction went something like this: “Some answers are wrong! You didn’t have the right question to a different answer: you were wrong! Green ink? Are you kidding me?” I’m pretty certain that her attitude alone saved me from becoming a “trophy child,” although my never winning any actual trophies also helped. ;)

    My kids and I do a lot of fun things, mostly because I like planning activities and running a schedule. I’ve often wondered how I can help them be grateful for these opportunities. (Maybe working on the quality in myself?)

    One laurels advisor taught me to seek out grateful people because they are the most pleasant. And judging by those pleasant Lambert kids, I’d say they’re pretty grateful, especially for a (within reason, let’s not overdo it, when I’m up to it) fun mom.

    P.S. I worked at Baskin Robbins while at BYU, and I had to create those abysmal cakes. Once I was relieved when a customer, sensing my complete inadequacy, actually came back to the staff room with me and decorated her cake herself!

    Reply
  4. Christina

    I haven’t felt like a fun mom lately, either! I’m so tired, my patience isn’t what it should be.

    Joshua and Delia were calling me a meanie on Saturday, and it hurt because I felt like it was true – I was being a meanie!

    Hopefully I’ll be a little more fun this week.

    I love that you said “gratitude is the opposite of entitlement”, if that is what we are teaching our children, hopefully they can avoid those feelings of entitlement. I also think serving others is key.

    Reply
  5. kira

    Speaking of craft time – I will probably always rue the day I started that with Lanette. It’s pretty hard to keep something like that up unless you aren’t planning on having more kids…

    Reply
  6. danielle

    Liz, you are such a good writer. I really love your perspective. However, I am going to have to disagree with your last post. I don’t care how ugly things get…pregnant women just ARE cute. It’s just that we see the beauty and miracle in the situation, and it makes us smile inside and our brain thinks, “cute”. Sorry…I am going to keep telling pregnant women they are cute. Especially you;)

    I think that gratitude and selflessness are such vital things to teach kids. They are things that we all could use a little bit more of. From what I can tell, your kids seem to have both. And as far as being a fun mom goes, I don’t think you have to plan elaborate outings or do creative projects all of the time. I think that being a fun mom has more to do with the way you interact with your children in the small ways. Singing a silly song in the car, a smile instead of a nag, being present and listening when your kids are talking about their interests, tickles and hugs and whispering secrets….at least that’s what I think in my six whole months of being a mother;) I know plenty of women who try pretty hard to be “fun”, but don’t seem necessarily too in tune with their children’s needs.

    And you totally deserve a pedicure!

    Reply

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