"This is supposed to be fun."
Those were the words uttered to me a couple weeks ago by my 11-year-old as we were shopping for ingredients for her birthday dinner. It was just the two of us at the grocery store, which might not seem like a big deal to some, but when you're the third of four children, actually, it is. ESPECIALLY when it's your birthday weekend.
So, we're in the store, just the two of us, and I am feeling pretty stressed out. We had just moved about a week prior and there was lots to do to prepare and adjust and organize AND I had a lot of writing work on my plate that week AND I had a birthday dinner to make. Which isn't really that much more work than just making a regular dinner, but in my head, I was letting it swirl as monumental. And I was being cranky and short-tempered and admittedly slightly martyr-ish and worse, I was rushing her through this ritual she had been counting on all week.
About halfway down one aisle she started crying. I looked over, slightly surprised by her tears, put my arm around her shoulders and asked sympathetically, "What's wrong?"
Without any hesitation she answered, "This is supposed to be fun. And you're ruining it because you're so stressed." And she was right.
And I realized in that moment that regardless of what else was on my plate, or what needed to be done, at that moment in time I was there, with her, in the store, getting the stuff we needed for her dinner. And my crankiness and rushing wasn't going to change anything at all about what I had to do or what I had been through. All it was doing was making this task miserable.
So I hugged her again, took a deep breath and said, "You're right. I'm sorry. Let's have fun."
And we did.
For the rest of the outing, shopping and meal making we had a really good time. It was really as simple as making a decision to have a good time. To not worry about all the stuff that needed doing, because I wasn't going to be doing it anyway, and worrying and stressing about it wasn't going to make any of it any easier or make it go away, so in that moment of time, why NOT choose fun?
And since that outing just a few weeks ago, that phrase has become one of my (many) mantras: "This is supposed to be fun."
It's a reminder I say out loud and to myself. And though some may argue that it's not as simple as that, really, most times it is. It's as simple as shifting my attitude and deciding to have a good time at that moment in time, with the task at hand and the people I am with.
I might just have to etch that one in over the front door -- inside and out... "This is supposed to be fun."*
I actually got a chance to talk about this and other attitude-shifting ideas with Carrie Contey as part of her virtual conference entitled, "Your Extraordinary Family Life." Check it out if you have a chance, there was some really great stuff being said!
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power," which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.
Follow Bernadette Noll on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Slowfamilymama