Parenting is a marathon. We were both exhausted. The screaming was so loud I thought any minute now our neighbors will charge through the door along with Child Protective Services and take my weeping son away. My ears were actually ringing. Shrill screeching was reverberating from the bathroom walls, and for a second my mind melted in the fantasy that maybe that wouldn’t so bad right about now.
I plugged my ears, smiled to myself, and put a rainbow sock on my hand. This thing is the best! Thank you Amazon. For some reason, my almost 2 year-old finds it hilarious that I can wear it on my foot and then on my hand and make it talk in funny voices. The screeching and sniffling subsides and I hear the satisfying plop of a number two in the toilet. Small parenting victory…
He looked down at it and scrunched up his nose. “You made a stinky-stinky, I’m so proud of you!” He smiled and sniffed around. It was so adorable… until he nailed me with a remarkably accurate stream of urine. This is exactly why I buy flower-print dresses, I thought to myself. You just can’t see those awesome parenting stains when there are petunias, roses, and daffodils all over your mom-body!
Of all the different strategies for handling parenting challenges, from the mundane to the disastrous, laughter is among the best. Not only does humor and laughter help to alleviate tension and stress, I found that it makes me feel better physically. No really it’s cathartic! But it’s not just my physical and mental health at stake…
When people laugh together, it strengthens their relationship. Humorous levity is so important when my husband and I are having a tough time “parenting” our toddler. When we share laughter with each other and our son, it helps us to bond more as a family. Laughing together actually empowers us to work together as a team and helps to diffuse conflict.
I remember when we had an especially tough feeding time – it looked like a battlefield… there was food all over the floor, and my son was wearing a sausage as a hat while slapping away any spoon that went near his face. He was terrible, and any moment now, I expected the crying and yelling to start. Suddenly techno club music starts blaring through our kitchen speakers and we both break into spontaneous, totally “cool” dancing. Ok, you got me, there are some college relics in my Spotify account. I still have Tiesto tracks that occasionally – and unexpectedly – cycle through my everyday list. Well, anyway, the point is, we didn’t lose our minds that day, and all it takes is a little humor. Plus, I think our boy enjoyed a little crazy dancing.
I strongly believe that kids will feel more connected to you if you share what makes you smile. By making laughter a part of the everyday, I feel that my family is able to maintain a more positive outlook and healthy attitude. And it’s so easy to make humor a part of your parenting routine, because kids naturally love to have a good time. If your kids have a hard time getting excited about cleaning up after themselves, come up with an encouraging activity or game to play while you clean, and throw in some tickles! This way, they will actually want to participate and help out! I can’t tell you how many times a put a toy on my head and made silly faces just to make my son smile. We would play hide-and-seek with said toy, until it was time to “hide” it in its “home.”
Remember, the times your family spend laughing together are the times your kids will fondly remember as they get older and form families of their own. If you encourage them to stay positive, they’ll pass that outlook down to their own kids in the future, and who can argue with that parenting strategy!