Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Make It Fun!

The Giberson household was always overflowing with catchphrases...words of wisdom to live by.  Some have morphed over the years to mean different things; some are well served with an explanation or an anecdote; and some just ring with simple truth.  Some have been passed down through generations; some have blossomed from the mouths of our little ones; some originated with movies and have taken on lives of their own.  Here is a small sampling of Giberson proverbs:

  • 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. 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!


  1. Wonderful! I love the sense of Whimsy that your parents instilled in you and your sisters. I could actually "hear" your mom saying those things .... especially the "I can sleep when I'm dead" I have had such fun following your adventures via fb.... I loved blanket forts and miss my "little' boys so much... I hope they can take some of the whimsy I've shared with them along with them on their own I'm sure your children will have that part of you to make every step of their life "fun"....nicely written...Thanks for inspiring us to be wonderful.

  2. I love seeing pictures of your boys. Peter is getting so big!

    The best "Make it fun" day I had was when I had to vacuum. Instead of begging, pleading, threatening, etc. for the girls to pick up their toys, I heard a loud noise the the laundry was a dragon who was hungry for cave dust! The "dragon" we found wanted to eat cave dust, but he didn't care to eat any toys, so the girls had to pick them up off the floor before he could have his feast. Molly helped plug his tail into the wall. I don't think I was ever so productive with house chores that day or had more fun doing it!

    You inspired us to make a blanket fort tonight before bed- it wasn't nearly as cool as yours but the girls loved it!