This series is all about the lessons I’m learning and the ways they inspire me. Today I’m inspired to prepare to be spontaneous.
Does that phrase seem weird to you? “Prepare to be spontaneous.” It seemed counter-intuitive to me at first too.
A while back I was driving home from who-knows-where and lamenting the fact that I felt like I was no fun anymore. I talk big about going on grand adventures + hosting all the parties + doing all the awesome DIY projects, but in reality my life is pretty bland most of the time. Hardly boring, because these beasties of mine keep thing interesting all the time, but not as fun as I’d hoped it would be by my mid thirties.
Honestly, I’m not sure what I expected of myself. I’ve got a mortgage and three small children. What kind of fun was I thinking I’d be having by now?
At any rate, I remember feeling sorry for myself. As I turned the corner at the light by our house, a thought came to me so clearly I was startled. I need to prepare to be spontaneous.
My first response was, what the what does that even mean? But after giving it some time to percolate, I think it’s a brilliant life strategy.
You see, I am not naturally a spontaneous person. (Shocker, I know, after several paragraphs talking about how lame I am.) I don’t handle surprises well, and I really don’t like when I don’t know what “The Plan” is. If David were to come home today and say, “Grab a bag! I’m taking you somewhere for the weekend and we leave in half an hour!” I would FREAK RIGHT OUT. Not because I’d be excited, but because a) who’s going to watch the kids, b) where the heck are we going, c) how are we paying for this, d) why didn’t you tell me about this sooner, e) what about all the other stuff I tentatively planned to do, f) WHY DID YOU DO THIS DO YOU SERIOUSLY NOT KNOW ME AT ALL???
Somewhere deep down I would be elated about a spontaneous adventure with my love. But most of me would be an anxious panicky mess.
This is probably why we don’t do fun things.
I’ve come to realize, though, that a lot of my issues with surprises have to do with feeling out of control. I want to do fun things, but I feel an urgent need to plan them and control them, which takes away some of the fun. Fun thrives on spontaneity. Ergo, I need to find a way to allow for more spontaneity in my life.
And that’s not terribly hard to do.
When I plan our menu and grocery list for the week, I work in a little flexibility. I buy an extra head of broccoli or sweet potato, just in case. I keep tons of Zaycon chicken breasts and ground beef in the freezer. (That’s a referral link, by the way. Zaycon doesn’t know who I am but I absolutely love their product. So, FYI, I get store credit if you use my link to buy something.) I also try to always have plenty of onions, garlic, pasta, beans, and other pantry staples. In theory, I’ve always got at least one meal on deck that could be adapted to feed a crowd. I’m building a stash of paper plates and plastic utensils, too, because we all know how much I hate washing dishes. Now we can invite people over for dinner at the last minute with minimal effort.
We have season passes to both the zoo and the water park. For both, we’ve got a few extra spots to bring friends with us for free. I keep snacks + other necessities in my diaper bag, and towels + sunscreen in my pool bag. The stroller lives either by the front door or in the back of the van. Now we can go somewhere fun at a moment’s notice AND invite friends if we want.
Even amassing a small amount of savings allows for the flexibility of spontaneous dinner dates, spontaneous home purchases, or spontaneous adventures. Within reason, of course; we’re pretty careful about discussing large expenses before clicking BUY NOW. Having a cushion, though, enables us to be a little frivolous when fancy strikes. Now we can buy/do that thing that sounds so awesome because we prepared ahead of time.
It’s a learning process. Like I said, being spontaneous does not come naturally or easily to me. But doing things ahead of time so I feel more prepared has really helped. Not only do I feel more in control—making plans! checking of to-do lists!—but I get to embrace spontaneity in a way I never have before.
Each of these photos, for example, were taken on fairly spontaneous adventures. Good memories, all of them, that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Because when I prepare to be spontaneous, I feel like I have more freedom. I’m happier. I’m a lot more fun. Everybody wins.
What are some other ways I could prepare to be spontaneous? Are there things you do that enable you to have more last minute fun? I’d love advice here, because it’s still very new to me!