One hour.

That’s all this summer goal requires. It takes pretty much no planning or bucket list making or thought, other than keeping your eyes open for opportunity. This hour will find you.

Last week my kids REALLY wanted just one more hour in the water park. They are young and can run all day and therefore weren’t ready to head home. Every bone in my body was screaming to head for the hills. I’d have to put on my bathing suit. We had to check out of our room, so if we stayed we’d have to change in the damp, icky changing area. My hair would be wet on the way home. The water park was so loud. Not one thing about the idea of staying sounded appealing to me.

But still, they wanted to stay. They looked at us with hopeful eyes, begging for the fun to continue. Pretty much every other family was headed home, but we made a decision that I didn’t know would change how I am looking at my whole summer and really how I’m looking at how my role as a parent.

We stayed the extra hour. And my friends I’m not exaggerating when I say it made all the difference.

I dug deep and decided I was going to be fun mom for an hour. I could have been sit-in-a-chair-and-half heartedly-watching-their antics-mom for an hour, but I decided that would be a waste. If I wasn’t heading home, I was going to be yes mom for an hour. I was going to get my hair wet, and not complain. I was going to be a kid for an hour.

And it was So. Much. Fun.

I found myself racing up the steps of the kiddie water slide area, chasing after Sam, plotting how I could adjust my way of sliding to finally beat him in the water slide races we were having. I was ALL IN at that moment. I was a kid again, if only in my mind. I thought about how when I had said I would slide with him, his eyes lit right up and his little arms shot up in the air with a giant “YES!”. He wanted to have fun with me. In that moment I was not just fun mom, I was fun Amy.

And having fun with your kids allows you to see them in a whole new light.

I watched Sam use his God-given giant load of energy to run and run and run and embrace so much fun in life I think he may be a genius in this area.

I watched Kate fearlessly go on water slides that made me scream like a baby. She held my hand and was the one who was brave. She had no fear and a fierce independence and determination that made me feel lucky to be her friend for an hour.

I watched Thomas take Sam under his wing when it was his turn for slide races. I watched him teach Sam new water tricks and happily play in the kiddie area with reckless abandon, being kind and awesome to his brother at every turn.

I watched Ellie and Lily with their arms around each other, best friends for this sacred hour. I went down slides with each of them and floated through the lazy river as we all chatted without a care in the world.

I held Todd’s hand and went down a slide with him in a double tube, just like in our dating days. Our kids watching from behind rolling their eyes with huge grins on their faces, hopefully seeing that marriage is more than making lunches and carting them around. That we have actual fun with each other.

Spend the hour, my friends.

This hour reminded me how awesome it is to just be human with your kids. How amazing it can be to say yes. Sure, I could have used that hour to start on the massive pile of laundry I brought home with me. And full disclosure, there was whining and complaining from my super tired people as we drove home. My house would have been cleaner and my people fed on time and in bed earlier had we not spent the hour.

But, the laundry and the whining and the feeding of the people will always be there. That hour of fun was not only priceless but fleeting, like a feather in the wind we had one moment to grab onto. And we did.

Your hour may not be waterpark fun, this may sound like sheer torture to you, I get this. The beauty is your hour can be anything. And seriously, it’s just an hour, not a day. So much more manageable. We can do anything for an hour.

Life tries to drum that hour out of us. It tries to make us believe that getting stuff done is the ultimate prize. I am all for folded laundry and an empty sink and kids who are asleep at bedtime. But don’t let life keep you from taking an hour here and there. Find what you love, share it with your kids, say yes when every bone in your old and weary body says no. Let your kids hear you scream like a kid going down a water slide. Get your hair wet. Eat ice cream for dinner. Play a family game of tag at the park as the sun goes down.

Make it your goal this summer to take the hour. It will make all the difference in that moment. And it’s the moments that will change your family forever.

Originally published on the author’s blog 

Amy Betters-Midtvedt

Amy Betters-Midtvedt is a writer, educator, mom of 5 crazy kids, wife to a patient husband, and lover of Jesus. She writes along with her friend and former teaching partner Erin over at Hiding in the Closet With Coffee. Our mission is to help parents find sanity and joy, and we know sometimes joy is found hiding out in the closet with coffee, or hiding out on Facebook — come and join us both! You can read more about us here. You can also find us hiding out over at InstagramPinterest, and Twitter.