By Michele Borba
We’re always known that laughter makes the home a happier place. But did you also know that studies have found that humor also ranks among the top qualities children value in their parents? The fact is kids do appreciate us when we’re less-stressed and with a sense of humor. What better way to create happy family memories than by putting a little more laughter in your home? So how’s your humor quotient, Mom? When is the last time you belted out a great laugh with your kids, Dad? Here are nine simple, no-cost solutions to inject a little more fun in your home.
1. Start on a happy note. How’s your morning? The tone you set can make or break the day. If things are tense, then find what’s causing the major stress (you can’t find the keys, the backpack, the homework notes). Now get organized with a hook in the door for the keys or a basket on the step for kids to throw their backpacks; set out lunch money the night before; plan an easier way to do breakfast–even have one kid set the table the night before.
2. Hold a nightly giggle (or other fun tradition). My husband started this tradition when he came home from work each night with our three sons who were three, five, and seven. After their hugs they’d run to the end of a long hallway. My husband would yell “Giggle Monster!” and each boy would run as fast as he could into my husband’s arms for huge hugs and tickles, and giggles. Start your own nighttime family ritual.
3. Read the Sunday comics–together (or at least the funniest ones). Make a tradition of saving the favorite Sunday comics to read together.
4. Start a cartoon bulletin board. Cut out those cartoons, print out those funny emails, and put them up on the refrigerator with magnets. Some moms even slip copies of jokes in their kids’ bag lunches or tape them on bathroom mirrors, or on their kids’ doors.
5. Brighten up that answering machine message. If I’m ever just a tad down, the fastest way to get me smiling is to call my girlfriend Jaynie Neveras, a mom of two teens from Atherton (whose phone number I will leave out). She has the cheeriest message I know. Some folks leave impersonations or humorous misidentifications. Listen to your voice message – is it one that gives the idea you’re a happy household?
6. Watch classic comedy at your home. All those violent, dramatic, scary videos can wreck havoc and break down our funny bone. So check out those classic comedies. Pop the popcorn, slip the disc into the DVD player, and laugh out loud together.
7. Put on plays, skits, or dress silly. Comedians swear that the best way they learned their trade is by putting on plays at home — the funny ones that made the whole family laugh. Mary Grace Galvin, a mom from Kalispel, Montana, had a hat box – I walked in on Mary Grace and her four kids (ages four to fourteen at the time) and couldn’t help laughing: each was wearing a funny hat and giggling madly. She shared it’s sometimes the best medicine for turning a gloomy day around.
8. Buy a good joke book. Store it in the car for those long rides (or when you’re ready to pull your hair out). One kid can be the joke teller (or “house jester”) while the rest of the family can guess the punch line. Adam, my middle son, got so good at memorizing jokes that on one long family ride (an hour and a half), he told jokes nonstop that he remembered from those school carpool rides years back. I swear they also are great for boosting memory.
9. Just do something silly—and not worry about it. Celebrate the dog’s birthday by baking him a cake. Every once in a while do something just plain different and fun: tape a dollar bill to the garbage can (and not say anything about it) to see who will, eat dinner in reverse—why not have desert first?); if you don’t have pets,…put candies from the door to your kid’s room so he gets the hint to clean it (if he doesn’t – leave a note at the end of the candy), and put something extra treat inside your kid’s lunch pail.
But most important: remember to take time to just have fun! Doing so is the best way to make happy memories.
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Dr. Michele Borba is the author of over 22 books including the upcoming Big Book of Parenting Solutions.