I am a firm believer that there is a “child” in all of us. Regardless of our age, we all love to play and have fun. But, if you have lost that inner child, then I’m going to try to revive it back to life. One of the healthiest things that we can do in the midst of this Covid-19 storm is to balance the ledgers filled with negativity and fear, with good old-fashioned fun!
A lovely line from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, says it well “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” Laughter really is the best medicine, it is healing to the soul. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Modern science has confirmed that laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress.
Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of wellbeing and can even temporarily relieve pain. Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free and easy to use!
Children normally laugh hundreds of times a day, but as we get older, well... Think of it this way, laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life. More importantly–make your home a haven of laughter and fun!
Author, Louise Hart wrote, “Play is a universal language. It gives a sense of joy in being alive. It is one of the healthiest things we have in our culture. When we play, we give a gift of joy to another. Happy and joyous family times are a unifying force. They increase closeness and positive feelings. They increase loyalty to the family team. Everyone relaxes and feels more alive. Love just happens when you're having fun together!”
Sheltering in place during this Covid-19 pandemic may be very challenging to families, but it is also an opportunity to seize the moment and transform our families. We have gotten so stuck in our routines and responsibilities that our family life--and family fun--has suffered immensely. Mom and dad are busy, maybe preoccupied in the evenings with projects, work or their favorite TV shows, while the kids are on their “devices.” Honestly, I don’t even know too many families who routinely eat dinner let alone breakfast together. Now is a wonderful time to change that. The good news, family research during this time is showing that people really are!
It’s time to change it up, “gammify,” get creative, or a little crazy; whatever it takes to make your family something special and you home a fun place; a place of repose and health. Remember, fun is free and there is no price tag on laughter!
First off, let’s start with the grown-ups. Stop being so serious, fearful or stressed out about everything going on around us, there is only so much you can change anyway. In many cases, this has become habitual. Not only is it not healthy, kids are watching and reacting. Instead, work on developing an exaggerated sense of humor.
Learn to laugh at yourself and your foibles. We all want to be cool and seem like we totally have it together, but that’s not reality. Learn to embrace your shortcomings, don’t take yourself too seriously, and have a good laugh. Find something to laugh about in every situation. Remind yourself to lighten up. Don’t dwell on the negatives; remember funny things that happen, and try to laugh 10 times a day–even two or three is a good start!
With kids, there’s a lot of activities that are fun and laughter provoking regardless of age. In my family, we have several games that are designed to be fun and funny, and not too competitive. Obviously, there are age-appropriate comedies and TV shows, but I think it’s better to have family members interact in an activity. Be silly. Be creative. Be willing to move past your comfort zone–you won’t regret it.
So, here are a few ideas that I thought of to hopefully help stimulate your creative juices.
First, make a game out of whatever you can, turn routines into fun times. This may be easier said than done, but it is definitely worth attempting. Try changing up mealtimes, cooking and cleaning up together. My mom used to have special prizes--the cheaper and sillier the better--that she would hand out as a reward. Use your imagination.
Second, use technology in a different way. Make funny, family videos on purpose! Hey, you could even start your own YouTube channel about your crazy family having fun. Record songs together. Have kids make up stories and plays, and then film them acting them out. Create a video library of “Our life during the pandemic!”
Third, get creative together. Do unique art projects, design and build crafty things together. Scrapbook together, either on paper or digitally. Conduct scavenger hunts or other creative challenges at your home. Maybe you have a wall that you can surrender to a fun, zany mural that everyone contributes to. If not, you can always use white poster board or a flip chart.
Finally, remember what is really important in life--the health and wellbeing of our families and relationships. There is no better way to strengthen and preserve these relationships than to envelop them in an atmosphere of joy, humor, laughter and FUN, built upon a strong foundation of love, compassion, humility and faith.
“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” -Mark Twain. Use it well!