Fun Living Practice is making the most of our time off, days off, weekends and simply making the most of life. With a list of good ideas and some good planning we can make the most of our fun time. It is not as difficult as it sounds and pays immensely in the enjoyment of the beauty of our world and the fun in being with people we like. It is enjoying everything from an evening bike ride to traveling to Costa Rica. It is doing things with our kids at all ages and doing things with our spouses in those empty nest years. It could be hiking, zip lining or it can be attaching a GoPro to the dog and sending the video to the kids who think we cannot run our technology. My favorite example of this is when instead of saying hello by text or calling our college kids, my husband videotaped me in a gorilla costume running around the woods behind our home in Blaine and we sent it to our kids claiming we had seen Bigfoot. My husband and I call these things our, Empty Nest Shenanigans. Our kids claim to have a lot of evidence to have us committed as mentally incompetent, if the need arises. I can just see my kids, “Yes your Honor, we noticed them loosing their marbles when they made this video tape in their back yard and sent it to us claiming to have seen Bigfoot. Roll the video…” I also know for a fact they have one of my husband and me singing and dancing to the German song Schnitzelbank in our kitchen from a few years ago.
The point is that life should be fun and sometimes we need to work at it. Whatever your age and whatever size and age family you have, you can master the art of Fun Living, by capturing small and big moments. Commit to have friends over for dinner. Your house does not have to be perfectly clean. Your food does not have to be perfect. If you are always waiting for the perfect time, the perfect amount of money or when your house is just right your time will fly by and you will have missed a lot of fun opportunities. Learn to enjoy the fun of a bottle of wine and time together with friends and relatives. Fun can be stopping at the neighbors and asking them along on a bike ride around the neighborhood. It is saving and planning for the big trips, so you have fun adventures to look forward to when going to work each day. Now is the perfect time. Instead of letting life weigh you down, practice Fun Living.
How often do we hear, “Where did the time go?” The days and weeks fly by, the summer flies by, life flies by. If we are not careful, we can lose hours, days and weeks doing things like binge watching TV or spending too much time on our phones and lose a lot of time in activities that we would never choose if we thought it through. There is a fine art to using time wisely and practicing Fun Living.
Plan ahead, because a good plan or idea ahead of the weekend ensures that you will use your time wisely. Without a plan, the weekend flies by and you have done nothing. Decide on Monday what you would like to do on Saturday and Sunday especially for those who work. Plan in January, for your summer camping adventures and make reservations ahead of time. If you live in Minnesota, January is a good time to spend indoors Goggling and making plans with a nice glass of wine. It is a fun thing to do together as a couple or as a family.
We also plan ahead for some BFC (best friend couple) adventures. Many times we also plan those in January or February. It is an excuse to go to dinner with our friends and bring the I pad for a little planning. We have done the Apostle Islands, in Lake Superior, including biking, art shops and a boat tour and we have done Washington Island, Wisconsin, where we went glass bottom kayaking over a ship wreck and tried to learn to bake bread. You can have more than one BFC and fill those days or weekends. Keep a good calendar of fun stuff. Start with some ideas for day adventures, weekend adventures, and big adventures and of course my favorite Empty Nest Shenanigans.
Where to Start?
We traveled with our kids from the time they were born. I have a picture of me at the badlands in South Dakota. I am very pregnant in the picture with my third baby (now 20 years old) and I am holding my son who is almost two and I have my daughter standing beside me who is 4 in the picture. We had a driving vacation to the Black Hills and eventually ended up at Yellowstone National park. We had a blast. We went at our own pace, stayed in hotels and swam in pools and saw the sights. But more importantly we were together and we were having fun. Over the years we went to the Canadian Rockies, Yosemite in California, the Redwoods, Nova Scotia and Maine, Florida, Mexico, The Olympic National forest in Washington and one year we went with my parents in their RV and our Yukon traveling through Colorado. We traveled with our kids at all ages and I cannot remember one bad time. A positive attitude and good planning always got us through. Those are examples of some of our big adventures, but we also tried to take advantage of every holiday and event and use it as a chance for Fun Living.
We even had a number of specific adventure rules in our house. First, since my kids were young they had to take me on a Mother’s Day adventure. I told them I would not be taken to a Mother’s Day buffet until after I was 80 years old. They plotted and planned and I never knew where we were going until that morning. Over the years we did everything from the Cave tour in Spring Valley, Wisconsin to the North West Company Fur post in Pine City where they learned to make a pouch for flint and steel carried by the Voyagers and the Kelley farm tour by Anoka. One year we went on a river boat on the Mississippi, which was awesome, and another time fossil hunting in St. Paul. We always had a blast because we were together doing something outdoors and we always ended with some food and I have only great memories of our outings.
Another rule we had was to celebrate big events. For our 20th anniversary my husband and I went to Alaska and for our 25th we went to Europe. We hiked the Grand Canyon when I turned 50 and we hiked Utah when my husband turned 60. Celebrate those milestones as they are a good excuse to plan something big. Develop your own rules, milestones and ideas to practice your own Fun Living.
We also celebrated special events such as birthdays and the usual holidays and we also celebrated cultural events even when they had nothing to do with our family history or culture. For example, we celebrated Chinese New Year and St. Patrick’s Day, and we created reasons to celebrate like Moroccan night, where we cooked Moroccan food and ate sitting around the coffee table in the family room and ate with no silverware. We invited the neighbors and their son to that event which made it even more fun. We also fairly frequently cooked hot dogs with our kids in the winter over our indoor fireplace, and we also created a Minnesota night and then cooked the things we thought we would eat if we were living off the land in Minnesota. We had venison, wild rice and blueberries, and dandelion salad. It was delicious! I am sure there are many other ideas for cool things to celebrate to make any normal day or weekend something special.
Fun and travel of course can cost money. You don’t always need a lot of money, but many fun things involve some expenditure for food and travel. Decide where your budget can take you and share your money saving ideas. For us, we saved money when traveling or even on day adventures by packing a cooler full of sandwich fixings and soda, water and Gatorade. You can save a lot by not buying an expensive soda or drink at each spot. A flat of water from Target and bread, ham and chips, cost less than stopping for every meal when you have some kids to feed. Even when we went to Utah hiking, we flew into Vegas and picked up our rental Jeep and our first stop was Walmart for a cooler and some flats of water and Gatorade. We also stopped at a liquor store for beer and wine.
To get you started I have assembled some ideas, but every family and person is different. Go with your own flow and share your fun ideas and photos as you find your own Fun Living practice. You can Google fun things to do in your city or state and the surrounding states or get those guidebooks. AAA has great books and maps if you like your hands on paper copies or bring your I-pad. You can Google anything now, which makes Fun Living even easier.