When my kids were small, I loved my life. Loved being a hands-on mum. Loved creating and running successful businesses amid the school drop offs and the organised chaos. Loved building a family, with all its traditions and tedium and small miraculous moments that were sometimes easy to overlook.
But somewhere along the way—and this is me at my most honest—I stopped having fun. Or at least I stopped feeling like I was having fun. The responsibility of everything took precedence. I chose holidays, meals, cars based on what would suit everyone best. If the kids were doing something on Sunday but all I really wanted to do was go to the Daylesford farmers’ market, I never said.
So this year, single and with my youngest at the pointy end of her school life, I’ve been able to do exactly what I want a lot of the time. I redid my values and realised I value play and adventure and they need to feature in my every day. I want to find joy all the time, not wait for a special occasion. I want that incredible feeling of freedom you have when you’re a kid and anything is possible.
I want to decide what’s fun, then I want to do it. Because I’ve realised life does go fast, no matter what you think when you’re stuck in a bad year. Without being too maudlin, the end is just over the horizon. And to be happy and fulfilled and make it count, we have to love the journey, the everyday stuff, in what we do.
For me, that means booking in a ton of stuff and sticking to it. Every Tuesday night I get together with my girlfriends and a coach for an hour of tennis. Going to Noosa for the Coastrek walk was an opportunity to fill up my cup and hang with three girlfriends. This month I’m off with a mate to The Break Room in Collingwood to smash stuff up in a guilt-free way.
Even seeing my brother Luke for three days in August was extraordinary. Of course we grew up together—there was us two and mum—but for decades we’ve hardly spent time together, just us. In pouring rain, we visited nurseries and botanic gardens (Luke is one of WA’s top landscape gardeners) and found we still get a kick out of each other. Why hadn’t we done it before?
Oh, yeah. That’s right. As adults, we’re so busy running businesses, raising kids, staying fit and madly building wealth that we’ve forgotten richness in life comes from being happy. From playing like we did as kids.
From really understanding that life, relationships and mental health are fragile, and that being alive means stepping outside of comfort zones and pushing hard for adventure. Getting serious about finding and having fun. When play is missing, your work and personal lives lack the energy and vulnerability which propel you forward to success.
So from now until forever, I’m letting down my hair and bringing fun back, bigtime.
It’s all about trying new things and seeing what sticks, discovering play makes life lighter.
Try it yourself. Book in one thing for next week that you know you’ll love. Then book something for the week after that you’ve never done but are curious about. An adult dance class, a guided tour of your city, a regional train trip to go op shopping. Yes, you do have time for this. Squash down those excuses and start having playing again.
The questions to ask yourself are these: are you really enjoying your everyday or are you doing things in the hope that life will be better and more enjoyable in the coming months and years?
What lie are you telling yourself that stops you taking action and playing more? Is it time to change?
Your life doesn’t have to be Technicolour spectacular. But it should be fun.