What do you do when you’re stressed, angry, at the end of your rope? A lot of words probably come to mind – and I doubt “laugh” is one of them.
But that is exactly what Shari Simpson-Cabelin – blogger at Earth Mother just means I’m dusty, comedy teacher at Gotham City Improv, and all-around funny lady – advises we should do. In times of stress, laugh!
Shari gathered a group of side-splittingly funny bloggers in The Motherhood today to share their take on bringing humor into the home: Marinka of Motherhood in NYC, Alexandra of Good Day, Regular People, Tarja of The Flying Chalupa, Erin of I’m Gonna Kill Him, and Ann of Ann’s Rants.
Why the Stress?
Life is stressful, yes. But we all have particular triggers that can turn a little tension into a lot of anger. For Tarja of The Flying Chalupa, “Low blood sugar is the cause of much non-humor in my household. Because nothing is funny without a full stomach. For me or my kids.”
So rather than succumb to the triggers – try to inject some lightness and humor into the situation and bring your family back from the Dark Side.
If “The Funny” doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry. “Funny does NOT come naturally to me when I’m running late for preschool. Or in a fender-bender. Or dealing with sick kids. Or…a lot of the time,” said Tarja. But “you CAN learn humor. I finally found it by the 4th year of college.”
Humor Through Humility
The jokes don’t always need to be about someone else, as Marinka of Motherhood in NYC reminded us: “It’s great to be able to show your kids that you can laugh at yourself, that someone else doesn’t have to be the butt of the joke,” she said, and Ann of Ann’s Rants agreed, “I think laughing at ourselves gives our kids permission to take life a little less seriously. It’s when they start heckling me I have a problem.”
When your kids still show signs of flying into a full-on tantrum, Tarja of The Flying Chalupa takes the if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em approach. “I like to indulge in the Adult Boo-Hoo,” she said. “You’re gonna cry? Mommy’s gonna cry too! Get’s ’em every time. Or it gets me every time at least.”
Having – and Being – a “Fun” Parent
It’s okay to laugh with your kids. Humor done right won’t make them respect you any less, and they’ll thank you for it when they’re older. “My kids do get embarrassed when I dance around or sing, but I know they will have fond/terrifying memories of it later,” said Ann of Ann’s Rants.
“I would much rather have an embarrassing mom than a boring one,” added Tarja of The Flying Chalupa about her own mother.
“My two teens feign embarrassment. But deep down I have myself convinced that they’ll be telling stories about me with their hand over their mouth stifling a laugh. In a very good way,” said Alexandra of Good Day, Regular People.
Bringing Humor to Your Own Family
1) Use exaggeration and sarcasm. “It’s the best tip in the world and works every single time with everyone,” said Marinka of Motherhood in NYC, and Erin of I’m Gonna Kill Him added, “Exaggeration and sarcasm can totally be taught – even my 3 year old knows when I’m being ridiculous.”
2) Keep track of the funny moments. “I keep a hard copy family calendar in the kitchen only for the funny that they say. I’ve been writing down the funny they do or say since they could move. So, I have 17 calendars of all the funny stuff,” said Alexandra of Good Day, Regular People. “They’ll get these out and laugh at them. They think of themselves as funny b/c of this proof. To think of yourself as funny is a pretty good self esteem builder.”
3) Do pet voices. Shari does her dogs’ voices, and her “kids (and husband) LOVE that,” she said. Alexandra voices her two beta fish, and Marinka does her cat’s voice: “And she’s always saying how right I am about everything.”
4) Turn on the music. Tarja of The Flying Chalupa gets “loosey goosey when I turn on the music. I’m curious – which songs helps you lighten things up?”
5) Know what always works. “My kids can always make each other laugh with funny faces. Of course, I’m stuck with mine,” cracked Ann of Ann’s Rants.
And if you can’t do it for any other reason, bring some humor into your house because it’s healthy. And so is chocolate. No joke.