Laughter: A Parents' Best Defense?
- Linda Sharp Author of Stretchmarks on My Sanity
- 2003 9 Mar
The baby has colic and won't stop crying. The toddler is hanging off your leg whining to watch Winnie the Pooh for the 4,000th time. Your 3rd grader calls to tell you he forgot his lunch - again - and can you bring it NOW. Your husband overloaded the washing machine and it is now floating in the laundry room. Tom Brokaw interrupts Regis & Kelly with breaking news of another incident in the Middle East. The dog walks down the hall and deposits your new and newly chewed up shoes at your feet. And your mother-in--law just pulled into the driveway. What do you do?
Cry? Scream? Rant? Buy a gross of Calgon and hope that it "takes you away"?
How about a much simpler answer? Laugh.
Parenting is, hands down, the hardest job in the world. Anyone who disagrees simply hasn't done it. It is a job rife with daily frustrations, stresses and angst. Add to them the ever present threats in the world around us. Now even our normal day to day struggles get passed through a post 9/11 filter, tingeing every moment with a seriousness that pervades our actions, thoughts and words. We snap easier, we laugh less, we worry more. This flows directly into how we parent our children. So now, more than ever it is important that we learn to lighten up, recapture some "joie de vivre" and insure our children are not robbed of their birthright - a fun childhood.
Steps To Take You From Dark To Light!
- Forget: Let yourself live in the moment and actually "forget" the stresses of our global reality from time to time. You got back to the business of living, but now you need to get back to the joy of living.
- Breathe: The next time you are ready to blow your stack because the kids left a trail of clothes through the living room or because your spouse hung his underwear on the doorknob, bite your tongue in half and take three deep breaths. Remind yourself that your children, while rivals for parts in the next community production of The Three Little Pigs, are healthy, happy and here. Then request their presence for a game of Pick It Up or It's Trash. As for the spouse? Stuff the offending underwear inside his pillow case. He'll get the message and you'll get the last laugh.
- Get Out: Especially important if you are a SAH Parent. That stands for Stay At Home, not Stuck At Home! The isolation and constant exposure to Big Bird are key ingredients for depression and irritability. Start a playgroup, join a playgroup or just head out to the local Mall. You will meet up with countless other parents who are just as much in need of adult companionship as are you!
- Open your Mouth: Now, more than ever, you need to know your neighbors. But now, more than ever, most of us don't. Introduce yourself. Organize a neighborhood cookout. If you are on a cul-de-sac invite everyone out for a good old fashioned game of Kick The Can. Invite all the ladies to a new monthly event at your house.
- Weekly Lockdown: A new nasty word familiar to all parents of school age children, it defines the process whereby the school is "locked down" in the event of an emergency, threat or intrusion. Give it a fun twist and institute a weekly Family Lockdown Night at home. No one can come in, no one can go out. If 9/11 did nothing else, it brought to the fore how important and precious is our time with loved ones. Use your Family Lockdown to play board games or charades, bake cookies, watch movies with popcorn, or crank NSYNC and dance like lunatics. You'll reconnect and be laughing in no time.
- Learn to Surf: No, not on a longboard, on a keyboard! Hit the web and go in search of fun, frivolity and laughs. There are all there waiting to be enjoyed. Granted, the Internet houses a lot of garbage, but it also houses a lot of talented, funny people who are ready to ease your load and bring the smile back to your face. No matter your funny bone preferences, you'll find everything from Christian humor to the slightly salty grown-up variety.
While there is no forgetting the past, and we cannot completely hide from the uncertainty of the future, we can take control of our families and our immediate surroundings. So as you are stockpiling water and canned food, take a look around, hug your kids and laugh out loud. It is still the best medicine and after all, that new plastic and duct tape wallpaper is pretty funny looking, don't you think?
Linda Sharp is an internationally recognized author and columnist who writes regularly on the joyous and frustrating world of parenting. Her work wraps around the globe to appear in print publications from Maine to Malaysia, as well as across the web. Linda is also creator of Sanity Central - A Time Out from Parenting. Her latest book, Stretchmarks On My Sanity: The Growing Pains of Raising a Family, has earned her rave reviews and comparisons to the late Erma Bombeck. As a mother of three children (four if you count her husband), she firmly believes that laughter IS the best medicine. Visit Linda's official website.