Saturday had arrived and I had my weekend chore list in hand, ready to engage and conquer, item by item.
I was on chore #3 (loading the dishwasher), when my daughter quietly came to me and asked if we could do something fun today.
Now the boys (my husband and son), were on an overnight father-son trip (an away-basketball game with the team)… so the fact that she was looking for a similar adventure on the home front was legitimate.
But in that moment, crossing things off my to-do list, felt like fun to me.
“Sure, what would you like to do?” I said. “I’m not sure,” she replied.
“Well, why don’t you write a list of things you’d like to do,” I answered.
To my surprise, she said, “I already have one.” I asked in disbelief, “You already have a what? A list?”
“Yes,” she answered, “I started it the last time you told me to make a list, then added things onto it, every time you were too busy.”
Yikes! “Every time you were too busy…”
Was I that busy, that my almost 10-year old daughter had to master the art of delayed gratification by keeping a list of things she’d love to do, whenever Mom finally had time?
Well, that was going to end today. After completing a few more chores, we set out on our adventure!
As we got closer to downtown Austin, however, my excitement turned into frustration, as we were met with traffic that only a big-time event could generate… in this case, SXSW (South by Southwest).
Now, I love Austin and it’s major events, especially the musically themed ones. But, as we drove through traffic at a snail’s pace, passing parking lot-by-lot, and garage-by-garage, with ‘LOT FULL’ signs out front—I could feel my frustration (and my daughter’s impatience) building.
It was definitely time for an attitude shift and change in perspective!
I suggested we focus on people watching, rather than the traffic.
Before long, we were lost in our observations—spotting quite a few people with pink hair and a few mohawks; some were stylishly attired, and others more casually dressed—all were very unique (and fun to watch). Finally, after finding a parking garage, we were on our way.
Our adventure started with a wonderful lunch at PF Changs where no electronics, only great conversation, was allowed at the table. Afterwards, we went to the Austin Children’s Museum where we enjoyed all of the exhibits (especially the Tinkerer’s Workshop and the Global City). We finished our mommy-daughter date at Le Café Crepe, with crepes to share (one with baked apples and cinnamon; and another with brie, pear, walnuts and honey)!
What lessons did I learn from this outing with my daughter?
1. Living in the moment is key.
If you’ve ever watched a child at play, you’ll notice that they are truly living in the moment. They explore, discover and play, without concern for what happened before and what will happen later. As adults, living in the moment requires revisiting that child-like sense in our approach to different tasks or situations.
When I was hanging out with my daughter, I wasn’t focused on what I needed to do when I got back home, or what I hadn’t completed before I left—I was just having fun… in the moment.
2. Spending quality time with our loved ones builds lasting memories.
Much has been written about the subject of “quality time.” So much so, that the very mention of the phrase may cause your eyes to roll upwards.
But, taking a break to enjoy the company of a loved one benefits all parties involved. The quality of that time (undistracted and undivided) matters much more than the quantity in most cases.
What my daughter enjoyed the most about our time spent together, was the fact that she had my complete attention. I looked at her as she spoke, and really listened as we talked during lunch. I held her hand as we walked through the streets of downtown Austin, navigating SXSW attendees and locals alike.
I fully participated in the exhibits at the Children’s Museum—building a car in the Tinkerer’s Workshop, climbing into the wood block igloo with her, and even pretending to eat the plastic food she “prepared” for me at the diner in the Global City area.
The quality of our time spent together was more impactful than the quantity.
3. Allowing time for fun allows you to focus better and work more effectively.
There have been many studies that point to laughter as the best medicine; physical activity and social interaction improving our moods; and fun in the workplace (and in general), leading to better productivity overall.
Fun can inspire and motivate you. It produces a sense of well-being that can carry over into other areas of your life. That well-being allows creativity and inspiration to flow more easily and enables you to take on tasks (or obstacles) more energetically, and with a better attitude.
In allowing myself to take a break and have fun with my daughter, I was better able to focus on the things I had to do afterwards and I felt better doing them.
Try to make infusing fun into your day a priority. You’ll be glad you did!