I ™m in the middle of cooking dinner and my patience with the kids is now razor thin. I want to be a fun mom, but it's been a day of toddler tantrums, no naps, and far too little coffee. The baby is crying and my son wants to play and I want to cook in peace and tranquility.
I plead with him to go play nice with his toys. He ignores my request and continues hanging on my leg, climbing on the counter, and acting plain crazy.
These are the moments I desperately want to be a fun mom. The cool mom who magically turns the situation around. The multitasking mom who bounces a baby on one hip, cooks a meal and entertains the toddler at the same time. The joking mom who makes everyone smile. The calm mom who puts a meal on the table that everyone eats without complaint.
How to be a fun mom.
Turn your feelings into a novelty.
Whatever you are experiencing at the moment, turn your feelings into a novelty for your kids. This helps you communicate your emotions in a way kids will understand, and it helps turn a tense moment into a game. Everything is a game for kids. Everything. So when you can create a novel game out of a tense situation, you will immediately start to connect with your kids.
I started using the Mommy Volcano as a game when situations turned tense. When my son was acting out, I started saying, Mommy is mad. Mommy is angry. Her feelings are getting ready to explode like a volcano. The lava is boiling.
I would spin and raise my hands in the air, symbolizing an explosion of feelings. This is usually enough to snap us both out of a power struggle during the witching hour.
As I child, I remember horsing around with my dad in the living room, playing buck the bronco. I would jump all over him, giggling incessantly. These are some of the happiest memories from my childhood.
When your child starts roughhousing, the brain recognizes this as a small stressor. As heart rate increases, the brain thinks your child is fighting or fleeing some bad guy down the street. To protect his brain from stress, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is released.
BDNF is awesome because it's nature's medicine for healthy brain growth and development. It repairs, protects, and improves the learning and memory capabilities of the brain by stimulating neuron growth in multiple areas of the brain. This is why kids feel more relaxed, connected, and happy after roughhousing–and moms too!
Get the kids involved.
More than anything, kids want to be just like you. Instead of pushing back, I started drawing my kids in closer (often times without using words). If you're cleaning, give them their own spray bottle and rag. If you're cooking, let them get right on the counter or stand on a stool, where they can help you cook.
Think of easy recipes that are safe for kids to get involved with. Don't cook a souffle and expect to be a fun mom getting the kids involved. Many nights, I cut the vegetables and my son cooks them on the stove for me. Moving a few vegetables around with a spatula is easy enough for most ages–even toddlers.
Being a fun mom isn't easy when tired, overwhelm and irritation take over at the end of the day. When you find yourself in those moments where the fun between you and your child seems too absent, too much work, too complicated “ remember: Fun is simple.