The goal of most of the activities listed throughout FamilyCapers.com is to create lasting memories, whether they are simply ones of joy or teachable moments we hope will be carried a lifetime. This is difficult to accomplish when misery accompanies the activity. The best way to avoid the misery trap is to bring on the fun!
Achieving the Fun status for an activity is not always an easy task. My experience has taught me that it is often an art form.
Here are some tips that I have employed to create an atmosphere of fun.
Stay relaxed. Remove anything from the activity that will make you tense and uptight. The best way to do this is to put in a minimal amount of planning.
Be flexible. Be willing to scrap an activity that has gone sour. Punt and try something else. Sometimes these situations build the most lasting memories . . . as long as you can look back on it and laugh.
Practice laughing and smiling. A parent's physical demeanor sets the tone for the entire family. If a parent walks around with a scowl then everyone else will react poorly. Smile and laugh often.
See humor when something goes wrong. Instead of getting upset about the glass of milk that spilled, make it into a joke like "I bet that cow is really going to be mad you wasted her milk!"
Take a timeout. If you feel things starting to get tense, take a break. Get some hot chocolate and just sip. Pull the car over and listen to some oldies.
Create a safe word. Before starting a potentially tense activity, give the family a safe word that any person in the family can yell out if things are getting uncomfortable. For example "Gardyloo!" Not only will this provide a warning system for parents who cannot see the forest for the trees during an activity, it will also provide much needed humor to the activity.
If you truly encounter a situation that you feel upset about, ask yourself if it will matter ten years from now. If not, then it may not be worth spoiling the fun of the now moment.
These have worked for me but that does not guarantee they will work for you. Every individual and every family for that matter has their own personality and quirks. The important thing to remember is to be aware of when an activity has lost its Fun status and adjust it according to your family.