Please tell me this has happened to you before. Everything seems status quo, if not a little too quiet. You wonder momentarily what the kids could be up to, but quickly shrug it off and enjoy the silence. But the silence eventually nags, and eventually, you seek out the source of what has kept your kids occupied, and silent. Turning the corner, you enter a room to find that everything in your linen closet has been repurposed into a fort.
Let’s take a look at how this usually goes down, step by step. First, the kids drag out all of the contents of the linen closet. Second, they confiscate every pillow out of every room in the house, both bedrooms and common space included. Third, they spend about 20 to 30 minutes arguing over the best way to construct their fort, until one of them usually backs down and allows another to take the engineering lead. Next, my kids usually come to me, seeking counsel and utilizing my rubber band-tying skills to make sure the fort is structurally sound. And, finally, before it falls apart a couple of times before the end result desired is achieved, they scatter to their various rooms to collect every stuffed animal and book and small toy they own to join them in the fort, where they enjoy time reading, arguing about who gets to sit/lay where, and usually requesting some sort of snack to eat inside. Sound familiar?
I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t like building forts. In our home, fort-building is a revered, treasured activity – at least for my kids. Justin is one of five children, and loves to tell our family about his fort-building escapades with his siblings, and the fact that they always, always, named each and every one of their forts “Fort Fun”. As a Mom, I can sometimes embrace the creative outlet that this event provides, but it’s all about my attitude going into it. If I’m stressed about keeping the house picked up, or feel anxious knowing that time won’t allow to pick it up, all bets are off. But if I can roll with it, my kids love nothing more than turning entire rooms of our house into shanties.
This year, I vow to say “yes” to more fort-building. Often my reasons for shutting down this activity are selfish or seemingly insignificant. When I let go and let it happen, I can see firsthand how much my children enjoy both the process and the final result. I vow to worry less about the mess and focus more on the creative, unstructured time that this allows for our family. Maybe someday they’ll tell their kids about their epic adventures building Fort Fun.