Sounds of crashing waves, squawking birds and laughing children surround me as I blog today. I’m at the beach looking on as my kids run across the sand and jump in the chilly Pacific Ocean.  My oldest is nine and other than my company’s annual summer picnic, we’ve never spent a family day at the beach.  With only a 30 minute drive I can’t believe I’m admitting this!

Even at 6:45 in the morning, my kids woke with smiles on their faces knowing they were finally going to the beach.  “I smell sunblock,” proclaimed my daughter before her usual morning greetings were even a thought.  With this much excitement and eagerness to get to the beach, why is this the first time we’ve embarked on this adventure in nine years?

The early years with my children proved to be daunting to prepare for the beach, and with fair-skinned children and a husband who would rather be relaxing in the shade, we weren’t overly enthusiastic to mark our calendar for beach going.  But the past few years, I am the reason my children haven’t felt warm sand between their toes and had the creative experience of building sandcastles.  I am the reason we’ve missed out on many other exciting activities.  Why?  I was too afraid and too busy, so how dare I say the F word…F-U-N!

With an overwhelming sense of responsibilities and hectic schedule I wasn’t making FUN my priority.  But the lack of FUN was severely affecting my family’s happiness.  And as I began having more FUN I realized that it had also been affecting me!  It’s important for me to relax, laugh and enjoy life, no matter how busy my life is, in fact, it’s even more important with how busy my life is!

Here are a few ways I incorporate the F word into my life:

1.      Establish goals for FUN.

Fun and Recreation are vital to living a happy, healthy, balanced life and thus are one of the eight Balance Points of Life.  I’ve established three long-term goals for Fun and Recreation, one for my husband and me, another that involves fun with my girlfriends and one for my family.  I then have action steps for these goals, including game nights and date nights.  Goal setting not only holds me accountable but it establishes the importance of having FUN.

2.      Plan, plan, plan.

To several people having fun involves spontaneity.  I’m not denying that, but with my daily responsibilities I find I’m more likely to have FUN if I plan for it.  Not only do I plan for the activity, but I also plan each detail leading up to and on the day of the activity to ensure optimal enjoyment for everyone involved.  As simple as a day at the beach may sound, I put it on the calendar two weeks ago.  I then listed everything I would need to do before that day – clean bathing suits and towels, load sand toys, pack food.  This allowed me to complete a few tasks each day, go to bed on time the night before and then have an amazingly smooth and FUN day today!

3.      Understand the benefits.

Sure, we all know that having FUN is fantastic in the moment, but there is a significant long-term impact as well.  Having fun and laughing has been proven to be an effective method of coping with stress. Fun and laughter releases endorphins giving you a greater sense of satisfaction and positive energy.  Don’t we all want to feel this way?

Your turn, how do you like to use the F word?