For Fun's Sake, Mama - by Illiah Manger for MotherHustle
“I’m good at fun for the kids. But now that I have ample time (alternating weekends gives a lot of freedom), I struggle to answer, What is fun for me?”

Fun is balm for the soul – lighthearted amusement, defined by Google’s dictionary. So why is having fun so hard? Do I even notice when I’m having it?

Fun used to be easy.

It used to be effortless and carefree. Best friends in sleeping bags with boxes of extra cheese pizza, watching Freddy Krueger behind Cheeto-orange tipped fingers, drinking all the soda we could hold. Sleepovers were fun, an escape from routine home life. A chance to bend the rules and explore the freedom of being without “supervision” overnight. It was a glimpse into the mysterious grown up world that waited for us in the future.

Little did we know that growing up meant fun would become a responsibility.

Now it’s surrounded by planning and followed with consequences. Even so, it’s easy to orchestrate for my muses. A picnic at our favorite park, a trip to the zoo,  an end-of-summer day trip to the beach with fries and sand castles and wave jumping… All planned before cold weather sets in.

I’m good at fun for the kids. But now that I have ample time (alternating weekends gives a lot of freedom), I struggle to answer:

What is fun for me?

I began this exploration from a Times Square Starbucks on a rainy afternoon during a spontaneous six day sleepover with a sister soul mate. To start healing from recent heartbreak, I embraced the electric, creative energy that resides in NYC.

Our fun included seeing Twelfth Night at Shakespeare in the Park, Guac and Wine in the MoMa Sculpture Garden and tea parties nearly every day. I allowed myself to make no plans and be responsible to no one for the first time in nine years. We replaced pizza boxes with artisanal pastries and sparkling water, Freddy Krueger with Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, but the freedom and the late night laughter were exactly the same.

In hindsight, letting go in New York returned fun to lighthearted, carefree amusement. It’s not only for our children.

What if we simply release control and stop chasing it  – like we talk about with love and success? Fun could stop being a burden and become an opportunity. What if we start noticing fun in everyday moments along with the extraordinary ones?

So, a reminder — to myself.

Having fun is…

Watching a florist design a bundle of flowers just for me

Absorbing the energy of a new city

Laughing with girlfriends

Seeing a movie with all the concessions

Relaxing into a good bottle of wine

Listening to live music

Witnessing a friend take the stage for the first time at a Comedy Open Mic

Reading an easy novel on the beach

Adventure: white water rafting, hiking, figuring out the NYC subway system

Doing something creative for myself

Confidently singing out loud in the car

It’s time to notice fun, to embrace fun, to be open to fun. For fun’s sake.


MotherHustle panelist Illiah Manger is the creative mind and chief designer behind C&V, where she collaborates with daring business owners with heart. She is known for creating clarity and focus while allowing her clients to co-pilot the design process. Illiah wholeheartedly believes in brands that are intimate and designed to tell a story. She is also the co-founder of Elevate & Cultivate, an online community for design professionals to strengthen their skills, get feedback on their work and make friendships stronger than Gotham Ultra.

Outside of C&V and Elevate & Cultivate, Illiah is a paper lover, mom of two daughters, earl grey tea drinker, cookie hunter and typography lover. Find her on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest.

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