Children Are Nuclear… Why Fun Is Important For Your Entire Family
There are sooo many things that happen in the life of a family, just a few days can feel like weeks at times! Running to school, work, hobbies, friends, doctors, the shops, home, back, family, dinner… it can seem never ending. Repeating similar activities day after day can blend into each other, and one day can feel like an entire week sometimes.
I remember sitting down with my partner, feeling shell shocked one night. It felt like the previous week was insane… then we realised it was just 2 days of activities that had us frazzled!
Where does all of this running get us?
How does it influence our relationships?
What can we do to grow and build together?
How can we move past the burnout and strains?
Feel Good Chemicals
Studies have shown that fun, our leisure time, can relieve stress and lower blood pressure. One study even found that “When people engage in leisure activity, they have lower stress levels, better mood, a lower heart rate and more psychological engagement — that means less boredom, which can help avoid unhealthy behaviors,” Professor Matthew Zawadzki followed with, “…it’s important to immerse themselves in the activity and protect their leisure time from external stressors.”
For our families, this means that when we are adventuring and exploring, even at home, we can be protecting ourselves against stress while building good memories together!
The secret seems to be keeping the stress at bay during the leisure activities. When we are stressed, every system of our body is affected. From our breathing to our reproductive systems! One interesting system, used in our fight and flight response, is our endocrine system. One function of this system is the release of different hormones, like cortisol, more commonly known as the “stress hormone.” When in a stressed state our body needs the energy to solve the problem, back in the day this could be a wild animal at the edge of camp. That jolt of energy and alertness you feel when a car pulls out in front of you, or a bill arrives, is the cortisol at work. The quickened heart beat, faster breathing and feeling of high alert are our bodies’ response to the chemicals and energy released in response to the perceived threat.
On the flip side, when we are doing what we enjoy, we are releasing a host of feel good chemicals (dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin). There compounds combine to relax us and calm our minds.
While relaxing, an interesting thing to do together is plan different adventures.
Start with letting everyone run wild, nothing is too crazy.
Plan a beach weekend in a penthouse with helicopter rides,
Write down bungee jumping from a hot air balloon,
Remember that old creek that you knew about, go check that out,
Better yet, if you have any family or friend traditions, give them a go…
Make sure everyone in the family has their turn, and a chance to present their ideas to each other. Sit down at the end, have some laughs and talk about what good ideas were mixed up in the excitement and craziness! That actually sounds like a really nice night in…
There are sooo many different things we can do to bond together, and most of them release our feel good chemicals!
Some of these compounds are released during a whole host of activities!
Listening to music!
Playing video games
Music specifically triggers dopamine
Fatty processed foods
Chocolate actually increases dopamine 2x…
Cigarettes are 1½x a dopamine boost… How insane it that?
So. If we have an unhealthy diet, sitting around staring at a lot of screens, taking little dopamine hits all day while scrolling social media in our down time… we are going to have trouble enjoying some of these bonding activities aren’t we?
I know when I have been indulging on the couch, or even sulking in my room, it is a lot harder to get up and go outside when the opportunity presents itself. Sometimes I can even keep myself sad enough to miss out on the fun right in front of me, almost irritated that I started cracking a smile.
But that smile always comes!
No matter how much our children push back, no matter how much we feel like we don’t want to do something, we should always take the option that helps us bond in some way. A neighbourhood walk, a drive, a beach trip, a camp fire in the yard… anything a little different can pull out our bonding chemicals and help us grow our relationships!
Keep Them Guessing
Another thing that is great for growing our relationships is a little mystery. Whether it’s our children returning home with some stories, or trying to hold in your good news to share with the ones you care about, a surprise is usually a good thing!
Plan out a trip, think up the most random and fun things you can think of. Throw it all together, throw in some back up plans and jump in the car. Random adventure, done.
Have a movie night, and just put the tv on random until something appropriate comes on. Even if it’s terrible, talk through the movie and laugh at it.
Go shopping and grab something random from the discount section, split up and go through the store grabbing other ingredients for different meal ideas.
Grab a deck of cards and learn a new game, or some magic tricks, or mind tricks.
Hide things in your cupboard that you think your children would like, and pull them out on a boring day
Always check the board game section at the shops for good or cheap board games, everything is worth a go at least once, you might find something amazing!
Whatever it takes, bring some wonder and excitement into your families’ lives. Find ways to force yourself to be completely present as well. You can’t be thinking about work, or the office, while you’re running around the rain-forest looking for animals, or looking for a place to stop for lunch on a random road trip! Make the opportunities…
Making the opportunities to have fun, are our magic bullets.
When we have spent the time planning out fun, it can sometimes ruin the fun.
We can feel a pressure, a duty to provide the fun for the other person.
This can come back and ruin the entire heart behind our operation.
Being too rigid,
Upping the stakes too much,
Framing things in our minds is a tricky thing.
A fun weekend away could be a way to kick back and relax, to have far less responsibilities than normal.
Or it could be a nail biting experience, where we stress about everything and can’t stop thinking about the office again.
Literally deciding to have fun is the bullet, it kills the fear and distractions. It eliminates excuses.
Deciding to have fun is the reserved kid from high school dancing at the formal to rock music with his tie around his head playing air guitar… That looks and sounds like freedom to me!
We can practice making anything fun at home.
Get creative, use google, find a way to make something wonderful and unique for your family!
Let’s say worst case, you get lost or something goes wrong… but what actually happens when you get lost? When we keep calm and figure it out together, this ‘mini crisis’ bonds us together.
There’s no loss, It will pull you together and propel you into the future!
Put yourself out there, what is there to lose?
You might gain some closer relationships!!!