Ask @DadandBuried: How Can I Put the Fun Back in Fall Family Fun for Myself?

Mike Julianelle, the Brooklyn dad behind the popular @DadandBuried, shares his take on Fall Family Fun, and how parents can put the fun back in it for themselves. (Hint: It’s about making memories for your kids.)

Fall is finally here. For me, that means the kids are back in school, jeans are back in the rotation, and football is back on TV. For my wife, it means visiting farms and finding pumpkins and forcing my kids to smile for photos. Help? —Dave, New Rochelle

I feel your pain. Fall Family Fun, as my wife calls it, is a scourge. It turns one of the best seasons into a crucible, and should you survive, the reward is 4-6 months of snow.

As soon as Labor Day hits, my wife starts claiming weekends. We have to go apple picking and pay $75 for 30 apples that cost $5 at the grocery store but at least these come with bee stings! Of course, while we’re there arguing over Gala or Empire, we’ll have to navigate our way through a corn maze in 85-degree heat. While it may unofficially be fall, September has other plans, and part of those plans ensure it’s as hot and humid as possible for Fall Family Fun days!

Next up is pumpkin picking, which is an even bigger deal. Pumpkin picking isn’t just about pumpkins, it’s about Halloween, and the only person who likes Halloween more than my kids is my wife. (P.S. Don’t come by my house unless you want to get an apple or two—we have tons left!)

So, in October, we head out to another farm—maybe even the same one that had the apple picking, only now instead of cold apple cider it’s hot apple cider, and sometimes they play “Thriller” over the loudspeakers. While there, Dad can aggravate his back by repeatedly hoisting dozens of pumpkins for inspection only to repeatedly put them back down because there’s a slight scuff mark on the bottom. Then, back aching, we hop on a tractor for a hayride. Then, back still aching, we cram behind one of those photo stands where you stick your head through a hole and pray the 5-year-old is smiling and no one gets any splinters on their chin while posing as the Headless Horseman, his horse, and a jack-o’-lantern or two (which you’ll be carving later, by yourself, while the rest of the family watches Halloween movies and specials on TV and occasionally wanders by to complain that you made the eyes too far apart).

And make no mistake about it, that photo is essential. Multiple photos are essential. Tons of photos are essential. Because Fall Family Fun isn’t about fall, or family, or fun. It’s about making memories. And years from now, you won’t remember that you missed Zach Wilson’s first multi-touchdown game or weren’t able to change your fantasy lineup because that far upstate there is no Wi-Fi. You’ll look back at those photos of your Fall Family Fun traditions, see your smiling kids, and laugh about the fact that they’re gonna get roped into this someday too.

There’s no escape. Because when it comes to Fall Family Fun, the “family” part is non-negotiable, even if the “fun” part is non-existent.

See you on the tractor!

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