5 Times I Ruined My Kids' Fun Because It Wasn't the Fun I Planned for Them

As moms, we want to do right by our kids, and that includes making sure they're having fun. Sometimes, though, it's too easy to get so caught up in the "making sure" part that the entire "having fun" business falls by the wayside.

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It might not make me Mom of the Year, but I like to think my tendency toward having a single-minded focus on how much fun we are going to be having, immediately, I insist isn't entirely a bad thing. Trying to give my twin toddlers a fun summer is a completely reasonable thing to do ... except, maybe, for these five times I let the idea of fun overtake the actual having of fun.

1. The pleasant nature march that ... wasn't.

A beautiful sunny day plus a beautiful park trail meant that I was bound and determined to make sure we got out and had some good exercise and fresh air. I was so busy making sure toddler feet got planted one in front of the other that we took a wrong turn, and our nice little walk turned into an hour-long death march. On the bright side, I got quite a lot of exercise in the form of an arm workout, after carrying both of my 18-month-olds for half a mile back to the parking lot.

2. The wrong books.

Reading a wide variety of picture books is a way for the kids to get exposure to lots of different pictures, words, and ideas. Reading Animal Sounds 800 times in a row, on the other hand, is merely a way for the kids to point excitedly at the picture of a dog all morning and yell, "DOG! DOG! DOG!" Of course, a screaming toddler who didn't get to read the book he wants is not getting particularly exposed to any ideas at all beyond rage.

3. The not-so-sweet ice cream trip.

What could be more fun than eating a big scoop of banana-and-peanut-butter ice cream at the local shop on a hot June day? According to my toddlers, what's better than actually eating the ice cream is trying out the shop's grown-up chairs. Every. Single. One. There's no better warning sign that you have gone off the rails as a parent than finding yourself saying, "Get back here RIGHT THIS INSTANT and eat your ice cream!"

4. The new box of crayons.

Coloring! Even adults still love coloring with crayons, so of course toddlers should love it too -- shouldn't they? That's what I thought, at least, but the twins seem to prefer a game called "seeing who can hoard the most crayons in their chubby little fists" over the actual act of applying color to paper. Prying crayons out of fingers and showing how they can be used to make scribbles results primarily in sobbing. But as long as they're happy (and they are so, so happy) just cuddling an armful of crayons, what's the harm?

5. The splashless pad.

Who doesn't love a trip to the splash pad on a boiling-hot day? Apparently my ungrateful toddlers, who spent the entire time clinging to my legs and wailing. Even when I helpfully reminded them that splash pads are fun and that we were definitely having fun! And they did have fun ... once I realized I was being crazy, gave up on the splash pad, and walked them over to the oh-so-basic playground immediately adjacent. If they'd rather play on a slide that's hotter than the surface of the sun than in the water, they can do that. Because it's not really about what I think should be fun -- it's about what makes them happy.

(But they're still not allowed to climb on the dining room table, no matter how fun that is. Sorry, kids.)

 

Image © Angela Luchianiuc / Shutterstock

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