Okay, so your daughter, age 2, has decided to flush her pull-up down the toilet and now the bathroom’s flooded. This is the day after your son tossed a football across your living room, breaking a lamp in the process. Sometimes there will be days like this one. And some days, rather than losing it, you just have to laugh. What?
It’s true. Laughter strengthens your immune system, lowers your blood pressure and makes your life more fun. Taking life less seriously can help you be more creative, diffuse anger and tap into the world’s wealth of happiness. So, it seems humor, or at least a good sense of it, is a great tool for living and perhaps an even better tool for the toughest of life’s jobs — motherhood.
Creative Uses of Humor
“What I’ve found is parents who are more open minded and have good senses of humor have a better time parenting their children,” says Jane Hannah, assistant head for academics and programs at Currey Ingram at Currey Ingram Academy. Hannah tells a story about a couple who was worried about an upcoming trip to Florida with their children.
“They gave each of their three kids $20 in quarters for the trip down,” says Hannah. “The kids could lose a quarter if they said something mean or caused trouble in the car, but they could also earn quarters for saying something nice. They had a great time listening to their kids make up positive things to say.”
On the way back, they gave each kid a sandwich and water. The children could earn a dime for every kind thing they said. “It was a way for them to earn money for a better meal,” said Hannah. “And once again, it worked!”
Hannah warns that there are some times when humor is not the best response: “Certain behaviors like aggression, destruction of property and repeated non-compliance have to be dealt with seriously.” And as with any parenting tool, you have to be consistent. “Kids have a difficult time if one day you act funny about something and the next you are angry,” says Hannah. But for the most part, life is better when you’re laughing, and using your sense of humor will help your children develop their own.
The Laughter Tool
Saying or doing things in a humorous way can help make difficult situations easier to handle — after all, your 2-year-old was trying to get rid of a pull-up, not trying to be naughty.
“You can diffuse a potential problem and distract your kids with humor,” says Faye Johnson, associate professor of sociology at MTSU as well as assistant to the provost for special initiatives. “You can bring up difficult family issues by putting a humorous spin on them and they aren’t quite as threatening.” Johnson says truthful and positive humor can help moms cope with life.
Happy Tools For Moms
HAVE A DAILY HAPPINESS FORMULA
What are your basic needs that you’d like to see met each day? Some moms must have two yoga classes a week, quiet time in the morning and low-fat flavored yogurt in the refrigerator at all times. Some moms need to touch base with their own moms at the start of each day. Whatever it is that you need to meet your daily needs, identify your minimum requirements so you can rely on them to carry you through. There is more, but this is my basic happiness survival formula for this period in our family.
BE YOUR OWN CHEERLEADER
You may feel under appreciated, so you have to be your own best cheerleader — and you have to OVERDO it. Throughout the day, point out the things you’re really good at and positive qualities you appreciate about yourself. For example, tell yourself you’re a good mom, that you come up with great ideas for dinner and that you’re a good decision maker. Don’t stop there: compliment yourself for saying something clever, for being a curious learner. Several times a day, tell yourself you are pretty and sometimes even go so far as to tell yourself that you’re the hottest mom in the school district.
PLAY HARDER THAN ANYONE ELSE
Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I wish I could play,” while you watch your kids cavort or when your husband tells you he’s going golfing with friends? Why does everyone get to play and you don’t? Because you don’t take yourself out to play! Don’t think you have time? You’re more efficient and effective when you’re happy. And, people are drawn to happy people, so others will want to be around you. You can play by window shopping, riding a bike, running, stomping through mud, cutting random things from magazines, swinging on swings, etc. Go out of your way to do things that are out of the ordinary and you’ll find pleasure.