THIS week it was my husband’s birthday. A terrible wife I know, but I hadn’t done anything for it! Worse still, I had intended not to do anything about it.

Maybe 10 years of marriage does this to you or perhaps juggling a full time job with kids drives your focus away from treating your grown ups with the same amount of attention you had once been able to offer them but in any case it appears to be another failing outcome of modern day living. The irony however is that I would’ve killed him had he ever done such a thing for my birthday.

I’ll humbly accept then I was perhaps (ouch!) being a rubbish person. However the evening was redeemed and, with hubby none the wiser, he even announced that it was one of the best birthdays ever. How ever do I pull this off?

After a long day at work, I had just collected my six-year-old and his friend from school and had planned to go home to do the usual homework/dinner rigmarole. “It’s my daddy’s birthday today!” He announced excitedly to his friend as he got into the car, having made a picture and a card during the day. “What are we doing to celebrate mummy?” Oh the guilt!

“We’ll take daddy out for dinner at the weekend,” I replied feeling good about my intention. “That’s so boring! That’s like the worst birthday ever.” I tried to explain that grown ups like going out for dinner (realising that the last time we went for a meaningful and “fun” grown up and child free dinner, was probably a decade ago!)

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The peer pressure started as his friend piped up. “My daddy looked so sad on his birthday. We took him out and it was so boring. Why are grown ups not allowed to have fun?”

This made me stop and think! Do we really not have fun anymore? Is this what children see?

Play, generally, is associated with children unless it’s a competitive sport, which many adults simply don’t participate in. The notion is that once you reach grown up status, life gets serious. The personal and professional juggles and struggles mean there is simply never any time to entertain fun and play. You can go out dancing, drinking, have dinner with friends, maybe even take up a hobby or two if you’re motivated and able to, but for many of us, we have forgotten how to play.

We know that laughter improves our mental health and physical health and it really is the best medicine. A good belly laugh can shift the mindset and lift the spirits completely, transforming the path of the day. Play is a means to bring this into your everyday and it needn’t be complex.

A leading psychiatrist and expert on Play has gone as far as to compare play to oxygen, stating, “it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.” I didn’t realise fun was missing until this moment.

Ok, let’s do this! Let me show these kids, that fun isn’t as easy as think it is.

With them suddenly leading, we headed to Poundland! Into the basket they threw in party hats, balloons, party poppers, a crown for daddy. Next, I got into trouble for not buying a present. I had planned to give hubby some vouchers but, “that’s boring!” So, we headed to a local sports shop because my son observed that daddy needed a new football kit. Next up, cake and dinner. Over to the local supermarket where they decided pizza and chips would be a “fun” meal. They chose a triple chocolate cake with a “million candles because he’s sooooo old!”

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Their excitement was infectious. I was feeling it but then it could’ve also been because I was loving life knowing I didn’t need to cook and had just saved a lot of money on my proposed birthday plan! This was either going to be a hit or an epic fail...the adult mind never stops worrying! Meanwhile the two of them had planned a birthday playlist, party games and even delegated jobs on who was decorating what.

The next hour was simply them buzzing about creating a surprise welcoming for the birthday boy. This is something I would usually be doing for my son’s birthday but here I was, in true party spirit, doing it for his dad.

Enter husband, looking dreary and exhausted from his day at work, probably expecting the same as yesterday and the very predicable tomorrow.

The kids and me hiding until “SURPRISE!”

Soon the tunes were on, dinner and play was in full swing and we were lost in that space of time. We had so much fun!

As we reflected afterwards, we recognised that we try to make life fancier than it needs to be. We forget that it is within the simplicity of life that it’s very essence is hidden. Fun doesn’t need to cost anything, play can be simple but it’s the connection and intentions behind it, that matter the most. It has the power to halt time, to make you laugh and release so many feel-good hormones which, let’s face it, pills simply cannot achieve.

I learnt a valuable lesson this week and that is, I need to bring more play and fun into my daily routine and reignite my inner child. When was the last time you had a right good playtime?