Though I came to motherhood on the late side, I had the best training for it: a career in comedy. Years of performing improvisation taught me that you can find humor in just about any moment, no matter how much spaghetti sauce gets spilled on the couch. Laughter is a marvelous, one-of-a-kind refresher that can reset your mood and boost your energy. Best of all, it often comes without a price tag, and it will greet you around every corner if you know which turns to take. Try the ideas on the following page and see if they don’t help you chuckle the next time you’re wiping up the marinara.
Chill with the girls. Make a date with your lady friends at least once a week — and keep it. Your kids are terrific pals and companions, but all moms need some time in the company of those who can blow their own noses. Go to a movie together (a comedy, of course), have brunch on a Wednesday, or pop open a bottle of wine on Friday night and let the good times flow. It can be a gaggle of girlfriends or just two of you. Spending time with your buddies is a natural way to relax and the best time to kvetch — I mean, catch up on doings.
Turn on the tube. I know, we’re supposed to watch less TV. But sometimes a funny show, movie, or even just a clever commercial can serve as a serious opportunity to clear your mind with a chuckle. As long as you don’t spend all day basking in the electric glow, an hour here or there won’t kill you. You can watch grown-up shows after the kids go to bed or invite them in on the fun from time to time. As you know, many kids’ cartoons and movies are full of subtle humor designed to sail right over little heads and collide with adult funny bones. Plus you’ll get a double dose of laughter when you laugh together.
Search for thousands of cats. This may sound off-the-wall, but I totally crack up watching online videos of kittens tumbling around, swatting each other, and falling off things. It’s so ridiculously basic, yet so satisfying! Metacafe.com and YouTube.com are two of my favorite video sites. Just search for “cat” or “kitten,” and you’ll have hours worth of material that you can tap into anytime life’s got you dog tired. Big confession: I’m hooked on icanhascheezburger.com. This silly site has pictures of people’s pets and other animals (mostly cats) along with funny captions written by visitors. It’s hit or miss, but when it hits, it really packs a pow. Meow!
Find your inner clown. Your children are a bottomless pit of silly entertainment, so why not jump into it? Most of the younger ones laugh more often than they speak, so they’re great role models, too. I recommend having a Silly String or food fight (outside, unless your toddler works for a housecleaning service) once in a while, or just playing board games or make-believe. One of the most amazing sounds in the world is your child’s musical giggling. It’s beautiful, hysterical, heartwarming, and contagious. Soak it up and let it tickle you.
Be a D.E.A.R. That stands for Drop Everything And Read. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher would announce random D.E.A.R. moments throughout the week. Every student would literally drop what he was doing, grab a nearby book, and read (as well as a kindergartner could) for 10 minutes. We got to practice our literacy skills, and — equally as important — we were encouraged to give our brains a break and switch our focus of attention for a little while to keep things feeling fresh. It took me 12,189 D.E.A.R. moments to do it, but I finished War and Peace by first grade.
I still sprinkle my days with D.E.A.R. moments. Try a witty book of short essays (Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris; Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs), or a collection of comic strips (Rose is Rose or Calvin & Hobbes). These kinds of material are just right for quick reading.
Go blogging. Mommy bloggers find the absurdity of everyday life in a spirited way. That’s something we can all connect with. Find a mom you can relate to (search for “mommy blogs” in your browser); then, when you’re ready, add your two cents in the comments section. Chances are you’ll hit a nerve with other moms; plus you’ll feel the thrill of venting into cyberspace.