Media personality and parenting expert Donna Bozzo knows a thing or two about family fun. From keeping kids entertained in the cold, to great Chicago staycations, to how to go “glamping” (aka glammed-up camping), Bozzo has been sharing her tips with Make It Better readers and families across the country with regular TV appearances on the Today show as well as countless local morning programs. Her new book, “What the Fun?! 427 Simple Ways to Have Fantastic Family Fun,” is packed with foolproof methods for injecting some extra fun into every day. Here, Bozzo shares an excerpt from the book, out May 17.
Easy Peasy Does It
Once you’re ready to start folding fun into your life, you might be tempted to try to fill your days with unicorn rides. You can stretch your limits and your budget and reach for the stars, but fun doesn’t have to be hard, it doesn’t have to be big; it doesn’t have to be expensive. This is the biggest mistake I see folks make. They make F-U-N so hard. They wait for it. Compartmentalize it. They hoard it and save it for vacations, anniversaries, summer break, treading through life until it’s finally time for a little fun. What happens when we do that? We get rusty. We overthink it. We squeeze it tight, choking it, as we say to ourselves THIS needs to be really fun — gosh darnit. Most of the time — we suck the fun right out of that special moment, special day, or special been-waiting-all-my-life-to-take trip. If you don’t call on him often, fun quickly forgets your name.
Starting today — stop compartmentalizing fun. Don’t just concentrate on the big-supposed-to-be-fun moments of your life. Those are great to plan of course — but sprinkle in a lot of what I like to call Easy Peasy Does Its along the way. Look for simple, tiny, EASY ways make your time RIGHT NOW, a bit more exciting, cheerful and warm.
Little by little does the trick.
A walk to school with little ones becomes magical with a bottle of bubbles. Crazy straws always make chocolate milk taste better. Have a long car ride with the kids? Download songs with their names in it. Or if you are close to St. Patrick’s Day — Irish music will do the trick. Boring family dinners become richer when you picnic together on the front porch. A night in is made memorable sleeping by the fireplace — in our family we called it going to the mattresses because I would actually pull all our mattresses off our box springs and plunk them ’round the fire — fireplace hotdogs for dinner and of course roasted marshmallows for dessert.
Whoever is happy makes others happy.
– Anne Frank
And it’s not just for kids. Fun-starved grown-ups can benefit from little Easy-Peasy Does Its. Try driving to work a different way for a new film of scenery. Or if you can — walk. When I worked at NBC in Chicago I figured out the walk home along the lake took as much time as the nauseating, crowded city bus ride. As I’d walked, baby ducks bobbing on the glistening water ripples behind their mamas, I felt like I was on vacation. It was for only 40 minutes, mind you, but instead of just two weeks a year — I found a simple way to have little slice of vacation nearly every day. If there is a water taxi in your town, take it. What a commute! Or strap on some rollerblades. Go to a movie at lunchtime. Plan a progressive dinner with the neighbors — half the work, twice the fun. Seek out simple ways to make dull moments spellbinding with a bit of FUN, and you and your family will begin enjoying ALL the parts of your days.
Where should you slip in an Easy Peasy Does It? Anywhere you can! The five minutes while breakfast is cooking. The wait at the bus stop. The too-long car ride to the grandparents. The witching hour before naptime when there is not quite enough time to go somewhere. Look for ways to put a little twist of FUN to up the saggy parts of your days.
If you don’t know where to start, ask yourself:
- What is something we do almost everyday and dread?
- What times of day are most boring?
- Where are the small parcels of our day with not enough time to do something complicated?
- What do we do that is so mindless we have bandwidth for something else?
- When are we stuck? Like home with a napping child or in the car between tight pick-ups?
Take those moments, and gather all the other moments you can — and find a bit of smiley stuff and squirt it on the yawn-y parts of life.
Fun Things You Should Try At Least Once
Sleep In A Backyard Tent As A Family
You don’t have to wander far for a night under the stars.
Watch The Sunrise Together
Every day’s beginning is a gift!
Have Dinner Under The Dining Room Table
Yep, yep, yep — placemats, plates, cups and spoons. Set the table down-under.
Start A Hobby Together
It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it together.
Have Breakfast At The Park
For us, it’s bagels on the beach!
Have A Pajama Day
Spend the day together one day and all stay in your jams relaxing, playing, reading, watching movies.
- May 24: The Book Stall
- May 25: Union League Club
- June: Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest
Media personality and parenting expert Donna Bozzo has appeared on TV shows across the country including the Today show, ABC7 Chicago, Great Day St. Louis, Veria Living TV, NBC 5 Chicago, WGN-TV, You & Me This Morning, Good Day Chicago, Daytime, Good Morning Arizona, CBS2Chicago, and The Morning Blend. Donna worked for many years as a reporter, TV producer, writer, and creative director and has written for Family Circle, Brides, Working Mother, American Baby, Chicago Parent, Make It Better Magazine, The Chicago Tribune and Going Places Magazine. Donna has a journalism degree from Indiana University and lives in Winnetka, IL with her husband and three daughters.
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