- Trust God, but lock your car.
- I'll sleep when I'm dead.
- Find your passion; follow your passion; share your passion.
- If they're talking about you, they're leaving somebody else alone.
- This is my last Christmas.
- Do they like bird-watching? If not, they should.
- I don't want to fight. I'll wear my astronaut costume instead.
- Of course it can be done. They move lighthouses!
- Worry is a waste of your imagination.
- We still haven't lost our winging it privileges.
These phrases pepper the gaps in the Giberson lore. Parents, be ye warned: the things you say over and over take up residence in your children's psyches. They shape the way we think, the way we live, the way we raise our children. For better or for worse, words never really die.
One such tropism that will forever live in infamy in my mind is this:
If it's not fun, don't do it.
It took me quite a while to realize that this phrase had a silent qualifier: "If it's not fun, don't do it...but if you have to do it, find a way to make it fun, and then do it." (More about this later. First, one last precursor to the actual point of today's entry...)
Another heritage we received from our parents was that of hospitality. We always had an open home. If there was a party to be had, we hosted it. If people needed a place to gather, they gathered at our place. If someone needed a place to stay for a few days, a couple weeks, the rest of the school year, the more the merrier! We welcomed you in with a guest room, a family dinner, and a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. And so it is in my home. Whether it's a weekly potluck dinner for 12-20 people, or overnight weekend guests once or twice a month, or laying out a full spread for a party, my house is where it happens.
So when we decided to host Jason's family for Christmas at our house instead of traveling to Chicago this year, and they wanted to stay for TEN DAYS, of course. Christmas presents to be crafted, cookies to be baked, parties to host, a toddler to reign, and a baby starting on solid foods...sure. The more the merrier!
But once the dust settled (literally), and Jason's family returned home, I was left with a huge mound of linens to add to my ever-growing monster of a laundry pile. I'm not going to lie. I was grumpy about it. I was barely treading water in the ocean of housework already. I was burnt out from a steady stream of feeding and cleaning up after 7 people for a week and a half including one with a mysterious stomach bug, one with a back injury, a full-on bachelor, a toddler, and an infant. So as I considered scaling Mount Laundry, I heard a little voice whisper, "If it's not fun, don't do it." My initial reaction to the little voice was a dismissive grumble: "If I don't do it, nobody else will. The buck stops here." But then the little voice grew to a giggle. "Don't do it. Find a way to make it fun...and then do it!" So I smiled at the little voice, and I took that pile of sheets and blankets, and here is what I did:
BLANKET FORT!! One of my all-time favorite activities, but especially in the winter months. When the outside world is covered in literally 2 feet of snow, I am all cozied up in my blanket fort.
The time has now come to take it down and return our home to its "Come one, come all" state. And yes, fort-building did nothing to decrease the mass of laundry to be done. But for a few days, our lives had a little extra magic, a little extra togetherness, a few extra memorable moments...because I made a choice to take advantage of a necessary task and have a little fun.
It's not a new concept. Of course, we have Mary Poppins to thank for teaching us to sweeten life's medicine with a spoonful of sugar. And we've all been told, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." But there's something about the challenge to "make it fun" that motivates me to see life not as an endless stream of mundane tasks but as an opportunity to enjoy everything that needs to be done. So as dishes pile up, I won't just load the dishwasher...I'll make it a color-coordinated puzzle. When my son won't eat his lunch, I won't threaten and yell...I'll tell him a story that rewards him with a plot twist for each bite. When we come to the end of the day, and toys are scattered asunder, we'll take a few extra minutes to play, "Where does this toy sleep?" When I have some menial, repetitive task, I'll turn it into a game whose objective is to make it as precise and efficient as possible. And yes, when laundry threatens to eat me alive, I will not cower or grumble or whine. I will look right into its menacing, fluffy face, and I will build a blanket fort. Because if it's not fun, I don't do it.
So...how about you? What are your family proverbs? What's your spoonful of sugar, your lemonade, or your strategy to take a task and make it fun? What do you do with laundry monsters? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!