It took every ounce of concentration I could muster. My mind wandered, I pulled it back. I downed the second cup of coffee for the day. And it wasn’t helping.
I just could. not. sit. through. one. more. game. of. Hungry. Hippos.
Or read the Curious George book. Or handle potty training. Or manage a get-in-the-car tantrum. Beginning with adoption of my first two girls as toddlers, I’ve parented someone in that age group every day for the past 7 1/2 years. Yes, that’s over 2,700 days, people. The tedium might kill me.
Ever feel like that about something in your life? That repetitive, required, “it’s really the best thing to do” and “it’s good for the kids (the husband… the company… the school… the church…)” kind of thing? The activity that may well push you right over the edge?
What if we started being the boss of those things again, instead of letting them drive us to caffeine addictions and violence toward plastic hippos on a game board?
WE MIGHT JUST START PLAYING AND ENJOY LIFE. That’s what.
Here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing and beat the parenting tedium:
- Pretend: Act like your body froze up and make your kids position your arms and legs to move you around. Or pretend the whole family lives in a different era or culture for a day.
- Talk different: Play the same old mind-numbing games using your best Mary Poppins accent. (Unless you’re in England, in which case, go for a nice Southern twang or California valley girl accent…)
- Use a timer: Set a timer on your phone that says “tickle time” and have it repeat every 30 minutes. You must tickle whoever is present (excluding non-family members!) when the alarm goes off.
- Say yes: Let your kids jump in the pile of clean laundry. Better yet, join them.
- Make it up: Instead of the usual “How was your day?” after school, talk in complete gibberish to your child on the way home. Have a whole conversation that way.
- Ham it up: When your child gives you an attitude or pitches a fit, pretend to fall over on the couch asleep. Or when they do something spontaneously wonderful, fall over having a heart attack of happiness. The bigger the performance the better.
- Change it up: Do your routine in a different order.
- Be fun: For one day, feed them the popsicle before the meal.
- Direct the “show”: Make a big deal about the moments you KNOW will induce tantrums. Something like, “We’re about to get in the car… Are you ready? Is your voice ready? Let’s make this an extra loud, squirmy meltdown. In fact, I’ll join you!”
- Seek the new: Read the story you’ve read a thousand times… but focusing on a different character or trying to find a certain object or color on every page instead.
- Reward yourself: Plan something fun after the thing you’re dreading (even the Hippos). Or have your kid plan it for you… after all, while we’re about loving on them daily, we’re also about teaching them to consider others. You, for starters :).
Basically: be a spaz, a goofball, a wild-woman, a mischief-maker, an actress and a comedian. It makes all the difference in the world!
(And it will inoculate you against premature death by toddler games or other tedium that threatens your sanity.)
What would you add to the list? And for readers raising tweens, teens and beyond, what does being playful look like for your family?