Motherhood Mondays: The Art of Being Goofy With Your Kids
Oh the wild and wonderful journey of motherhood! I am the lucky mama of three awesome boys: Carson (11), Russell (9), and Colby (7). Somehow, this very girly-girl ended up with a pack of little men! (And I swear, if I decided that having another was a good idea (which, um, I don’t, haha), I’d likely end up with twin boys.)
So much of mothering is logistical and task oriented. Schedule dentist appointments: check! Make sure they’re eating their vegetables: check! Parental controls on their iPads: check! Order new cleats for soccer: check! All that stuff is vital, but then there’s the other equally vital stuff: fun! And sometimes that can fall by the wayside when we’re so hellbent on getting the logistical stuff done, and it’s a lot of logistical stuff. And it can be … exhausting sometimes, especially when you’re doing it on your own without a partner. Mamas (and single mamas) of the world, am I right, or am I right?
But fun… let’s get back to fun. I think one of the unexpected blessings-in-disguise of my divorce was how it allowed me to chill out about the stuff I used to get uptight about. I know, that seems weird, right? Like you’d think that a divorce would make me more anxious, grumpy, worried. Well, I have plenty of worries, and those aren’t going away, but the weird thing is that going through the trauma I went through made it possible for me to reprioritize what I value and don’t value.
While I’ve always liked a clean house, and still do, I care less about perfection these days. That means sweating less about the boys’ shenanigans (muddy boots and all). I think when you go through something so huge in life, like divorce, the trauma sort of rips it all wide open and allows you to step back and regroup and look at yourself and your life from all angles and decide what really matters.
For me, what really mattered most was time spent nurturing, loving, and providing for my boys. As a result, nowadays, I work when the kids are at their dad’s house, at school, or tucked into bed. When they’re here, I want to be present. And I want to keep it fun!
And that’s the subject of today’s post: fun, or rather, the fine art of being goofy with your kids. Because it’s soooooo important.
Nora Ephron famously said: “I have a theory that children [when they grow up] remember two things: when you weren’t there and when they threw up.”
How true is that? But I’d also add that when all is said and done, when your kids are raised and job-holding, responsible members of adult society (who call you at least weekly and send flowers on Mother’s Day, naturally), that they’ll also remember all the fun they had with you.
My very fun-loving and goodnatured father is a perfect example of this. While checking all the boxes as a provider and protector, he was (and is) also incredibly hilarious. Example: When I was about 15, and going through some intense teenager-itus, he played a prank on me during a family vacation (a road trip to the midwest to visit relatives). I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but basically I was your typical prissy teenage girl, concerned about her luggage, which contained her very important things (makeup and all of my necessities). Well, my dad thought it would be funny to continually “forget” my luggage at our various stops at hotels and stops along the way. We’d drive off, and there would be my suitcase, sitting on the sidewalk, or parking lot, or at a rest stop. At the time, I was like, “Daaaaaaaaaaad! Stop!” But looking back, that was pretty darn good. Nicely played, dad.
My childhood best friend, who is a friend to this day, recalls a time when she was in sixth grade, when she and her mom stayed up late into the night laughing together. She laughed so hard she admits to actually peeing her pants!
Mamas everywhere, I challenge you today to up the fun in your house. Some pointers on being goofy:
*Keep at it: Kids need goofy fun just like they need nutrition, but sometimes they don’t know they do. So when you whip out something goofy, you might get the blank stare (especially from teens and pre-teens). But just stay with it. Consistent goofiness pays off!
*Do “backwards” or “upside down” days once in a while: This could mean breakfast for dinner, or however you want to switch up the status quo. Get creative!
*Play goofy music in the house: One of my nicknames for my son, Colby, is “Coco” and I found this hilarious BossaNova jazz song called “Coco Secco” and I play it for him when he’s in a bad mood or bummed out about something. It never fails to make him smile.
*Assign your kids animals (like so and so is a “cat” or a “puppy” or a “bear cub”) then refer to them as these animals now and then by speaking their language (“meow,” “woof” or “roar”). My kids loooooove this.
*Teach them the skill of laughing at themselves: Being laughed at is no fun, but if we can teach our kids to let go of some sensitivity/ego and laugh at themselves, it’s such a confidence booster in the long haul. For instance, my boys always ask me to tell them silly stories about themselves as babies. Russell loves to laugh about how he used to have a biting problem as a toddler, haha. (Cutest little biter on earth, that one was.) And I have a great photo of Carson attempting to eat a children’s book. The joke is that he likes to eat books. He’ll be like, “hey mom, can I have a snack?” And I’ll nod and bring him a plate of books.” Ok, ok, maybe not my best comedy routine, but you get it. And laugh at yourself, too! I’m constantly saying “guys, look at your silly mama” and sharing my various life flubs with my boys. I also do zany stuff like walk out the door to my car in my slippers, etc., to get a laugh. Hey, I’m my father’s daughter, after all.
So many more things to share, but I want to hear your ideas on the art of being goofy with your kids! Please share!
(Oh, and P.S. Backstory for the photo above: My soon-to-be-stepdaughter, Evie, got the gray tank top above as a gift for her birthday and it was huge–big enough to fit her dad and I. So I had the goofy idea to make all the kids, and us, pose for a photo in the shirt. Still cracks me up.)