The other Friday night, I was cleaning up after making Ted’s tea. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL. On the kitchen radio (Radio 2, obviously) was Sara Cox’s Friday request show. Have you heard it? Sara and the majority of the callers are always very excited for the weekend ahead, and the callers tell Sara about their plans, which often involve camping and drinking prosecco.
I half-enjoy listening to it, but sometimes it makes me feel like I’m missing out. I’m a fairweather festival camper and prosecco’s not my favourite; it’s more that they’re all in that IT’S THE WEEKEND party headspace that used to be a constant.
One of the callers on the other night, who might have already started on the prosecco, requested Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. I could have wallowed in the irony as I picked up peas off the worktop.
Friday nights are different these days. But it’s not like my life is totally devoid of fun, is it?
Fun fun FUN. What the bloody heck IS fun anyway?
Surprisingly, at eight months’ pregnant and with a two year old to look after, I feel like I’ve had a fair bit of ‘fun’ recently. (Why does that sound rude??)
At the same time, I feel that fun could easily slide out of my life if I let it, and so I wanted to remind myself of it, and maybe reframe it if I have to.
This time three years ago, like the merry radio callers, I was all about that IT’S THE WEEKEND fun – minus the camping. Friday nights were always about drinking (too much), sometimes out and sometimes at home, in the garden during the summer, with our favourite songs and the garden lights on. It felt like fun.
Obviously that particular brand of fun came to an end once I was pregnant with Ted.
We picked it up again temporarily, when I was out of the newborn fog and eager to feel like ‘me’ again (interesting that ‘feeling like me’ meant me with a can of beer in hand…).
But then the headache from drinking and waking up with a baby in the night, not to mention the post-drinking fear, the hang-xiety, made me realise that that type of fun wasn’t worth it, and then I became pregnant again, and here we are.
That type of hedonistic fun was my failsafe throughout my twenties and early 30s. If I think about how I spent my time during that period, I think of work, mostly, and then the relief from work – the IT’S THE WEEKEND boozy release that began with wine at our desks at 5.30pm and carried on – with breaks for sleep and food of course, we weren’t ANIMALS! – until Sunday lunch, sometimes later if we were feeling reckless.
What else did I do for fun when my time was ALL my own? (Oh, those carefree days….)
Swimming – in the summer at least, when I Iived in London near a lido, swimming outside in the sun made me feel alive and really bloody happy.
Shopping – for nice things like a new top, not for binliners or those packets of microwave rice that I should knock on the head because of the unnecessary plastic.
Music – I went to gigs frequently, and I think I’d forgotten, until the other week, how much joy is to be had from experiencing an amazing gig and– MASSIVE CRINGE – losing yourself in the music.
Reading. Going to nice restaurants and stuffing my face. Chats with friends.
Nothing out of the ordinary.
But fun nonetheless.
The other week, I went to a gig for the first time in about a year. Allowing that amount of time to pass between gigs would have been unthinkable to me when I was younger.
Obviously I was completely sober. I hadn’t even been that bothered about going, but it made me feel alive and energised and happy.
Maybe it was the nostalgia factor; the band (Ash) was one I loved as a teenager. And maybe I shouldn’t analyse the nostalgia part too much, because was the experience only fun because I was thinking of the fun I had 20 years ago? And that’s a tad depressing if so, so I’ll stop there. Anyway, whatever it was, it was bloody FUN.
We had fun on our recent Centre Parcs holiday. I guess now, like a lot of parents, my fun comes from Ted’s happiness – I think there’s a danger of that fun being my only fun (how many times do I want to say FUN?), which is partly the reason for this post: I want to make the effort to ensure that doesn’t happen. Regardless, we had fun together as a family – in the swimming pools, cooking and sharing meals, playing daft games when Ted was in bed.
And then a catch-up with a gang of old workmates at the weekend for a hen brunch, and a few rare Saturday afternoon hours to myself, was tons of fun. And it made me realise how much my life has changed in the last two years.
(I am aware how moronic this sounds: woman has kid and is shocked that she’s not the same person. You don’t say!)
It’s actually been ages since I’ve spent time with a big group of people, unless you count kids and mums at a church hall playgroup. My days are largely me and Ted, or me and my laptop, or me and Gray and Ted, or me and my family.
I see friends – old friends and mum friends – regularly, and I’m know I’m very lucky to have a network of people that many mums don’t have. But when I think back to when I worked full-time, even for myself, there were often lots more people around. I enjoy my own company, but working only a couple days now, without regular clients or colleagues, I miss how having different people around makes things happen; those unexpected meetings and conversations.
(I now hang out with a toddler who mostly recites numbers and says ‘more biscuit’.)
Anyway, I’m kind of going off topic, but I think what I’m getting at is that being around people is fun. Or rather, can be. I’m actually an introvert I think – an extroverted introvert – and as I’ve said, I enjoy my own company. And I don’t like dickheads.
So I’m not talking about any old people. But, probably unsurprisingly, it’s refreshing to me to spend time once in a while with (nice, fun) people who aren’t my toddler and my boyfriend. No offence, Ted and G.
With baby 2’s arrival imminent, I’m not daft enough to think I’ll have a cracking social life again any time soon.
But I am going to make an effort to seek out fun. The fun I used to enjoy – gigs, swimming, reading, eating, social chats. It can be all too easy to say I’m too tired to go to x, and make an excuse about why sitting on the sofa scrolling mindlessly on my phone is better than y.
And there’s also quiet fun. Similar to self-care maybe, but not in a face masks and baths way…. More making time for box-sets and reading books that aren’t about ‘brand building’ or something else work-related. Listening to favourite songs. I’ve even neglected these things in recent weeks, months – always too busy with Ted or trying to maximise free time on work stuff.
And my Friday night fun these days – often a takeaway followed by First Dates on catch-up – IS really good. It IS fun. I usually just need to clear up a few discarded peas and some bits of broccoli before I can get to it. (But good things come to those who wait.)
And then there’s the argument that the prosecco kind of fun is not real fun, anyway…
So to anyone else feeling devoid of fun, or needing to reframe fun (without booze, for example), I reckon thinking about the things you used to enjoy is a good place to start. The times you felt alive. And to recognise the fun in the takeaways and the First Dates catch-ups, rather than longing for camping and prosecco. (Who longs for camping anyway???!!!)
It’s never too late to rediscover fun.
(FUN FUN FUN. And one more for the road: FUN.)
Hello, I'm Laura. I write about parenting, life, style, building a business and finding success on your own terms.
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