Summer just started and the kids are already whiny, sweaty and sticky. Admit it. Parents can be whiny, sweaty and sticky, too. When tempers are short and dog days are long, there’s only one solution to beat the blazing beast of summer: comic relief.
Sharing a good grin with your kids can be as soothing and rejuvenating as sitting under the shade of your favorite tree drinking a pitcher of icy, sweet lemonade.
Over the years I’ve memorized the fastest ways to a shared giggle. Here are the tried and true best:
Play in the water with your children. There’s nothing like a pool to bring out the kid in you. The reduced gravity allows anyone to carry little ones, play lively games of Marco Polo and enjoy breath-holding contests. Sprinklers and water balloons are a blast, too!
Buy a bottle of bubbles. The soapy, sudsy floaters bring levity to even the crankiest of days. Chase them. Catch them. Pop them. Then, blow some more. Try bending wire hangers into loops for gigantic bubbles, or use strainers for teeny weenie ones.
Dress up. Children love disguises. So, even if it’s not Halloween pass around knight shields and swords, Lone Ranger masks or pairs of fairy wings. Consider keeping a clown nose in your car. Don it and do your best Bozo impression if you get stuck in traffic or your kids decide to play "Heee’s Touching Meeeeee, Mom!!!!!!"
Tie a bandana to your left leg and your child’s right. Have a three-legged race down your sidewalk. Try other favorite field day games: the egg toss, sack race, a relay or home-spun obstacle course (of jump ropes, random toys and plastic cones), etc. If you’re feeling adventurous, invite the whole neighborhood to maximize your hoots.
Watch America’s Funniest Home Videos as a family. (Save this one for a particularly hot day.) After the show, create a funny video of your own.
Have your kids take pictures at the zoo. After the photos are developed encourage the young photographers to chop their masterpieces into bits, then glue them together, on a piece of card stock, to create new and strange creatures.
Pretend to laugh. Just start ‘hee-hawing, ‘ho-ho’-ing and ‘tee-hee’-ing until everyone joins in. This is particularly fun if you lay on the ground in a big circle and each person puts his or her head on the belly of the closest person.
Above all, keep Woody Allen’s famous and profound words in mind. "I am thankful for laughter, except for when milk comes out of my nose."
Sally Miller is a Carol Stream mom, writer and speaker. Her recent book, Play with Me (FaithWalk Publishers), inspires parents to embrace the wildness and wonder in life with kids. Reach her at email@example.com.