I can feel a change coming in the world of parenting, probably in response to the arguably overblown (and endlessly debated and chastised and disccused) "helicopter parenting" movement. I think more and more mothers are wondering how to be a laid-back mom, mostly because there's an endless supply of stress and worry and anxiety at your disposal, forced on you by this palpable, overwhelming need to be the best parent you can possibly be. I mean, when you're responsible for keeping another person alive and happy and you're attempting to raise a human being to be kind and, you know, not the absolute worst, stress not only weighs on you, it overwhelms you.
I, for one, am a big believer in laughter. Well, okay, I'm a big believer in laughing at people. America's Funniest Home Videos was pretty much my favorite show of all time during my formative, adolescent years, because it made it completely acceptable to laugh at other people's misfortunes. It did, however, take a considerable amount of time for me to develop that same laid-back attitude when and if I became the butt of any joke. Thankfully, my partner has done his best to take me down a few notches in the overreaction department, which has made me love him even more. Honestly, there's nothing like a healthy dose of humility to remind you not to take yourself too seriously.
And while it took me a few (read: many) years to learn how to "let go" and be okay with being funny or silly or being laughed at or just being anything other than the "picture-perfect mother" (whatever that means because, honestly, does that mother even exist?), I am definitely a better parent for it. I've learned my lesson on more than one occassion, and along with those lessons came the ability to let the small stuff go, focus on what really matters, and truly enjoy every aspect of motherhood.
So, with that in mind, here are 11 ways moms who don't take themselves too seriously are the best parents. Trust me, if you can laugh at yourself, you can definitely laugh at all the stresses and anxieties and worries that come along with parenthood.
When You're Willing To Make A Fool Of Yourself, Your Kids Will Laugh More
Do you know what kids find funny? Dumb things. Just absolutely silly, extremely dumb things. What can I say? They're easily entertained. They don't want your subtle sarcastic wit just yet (wait for it; they will when they're teenagers), they want The Three Stooges. They want totally embarrassing physical humor. They want a pie in the face or a stubbed toe or something that will probably cause you to experience some semblence of pain, that will totally tickle their fancy. If you're willing to go there for them, they will have a blast.
Allowing Your Kids To See That You Aren't Perfect Is Healthier For Everyone
My 4-year-old daughter still remembers the time I said "sweet potwato" and, to this day, laughs about it. It was no big deal, but she is delighted to know that her mother makes mistakes too. Plus, there's the added bonus of reminding myself that I don't have to constantly stive to be "perfect", for my kids to be happy and healthy and in absolute awe of their mother. I can mess up and take a wrong turn and do something I wasn't "supposed" to do, and still be a great mother to my children.
You Just Have Way More Fun
Making your kids laugh, taking yourself less seriously, being more willing to laugh or be made fun of yourself; it will all help you enjoy your life more, (curveballs and all). Seemingly small moments will become cherished memories because you did that funny thing and your kids just couldn't stop laughing at it.
You're Being A Good Role Model
As your kids grow up and explore the world and attempt to figure out who they truly are, they're going to be looking to you as an example of how they should be and act and, essentially, function. Do you really want them to emulate how hard you are on yourself? Do you really want your kids holding themselves to the same impossible standards you do? Of course not, you want them to love themselves for who they are, flaws and all.
If You Don't Laugh, You'll Cry
Honestly, sometimes the best thing to do in an otherwise frustrating situation, is laugh. If you keep bottling up emotions (both positive and negative) you'll find yourself in the fetal position, crying uncontrollably (not that that has happened to me or anything but, oh wait, it totally has). There are plenty of situations in which you just have to laugh at yourself, laugh at the ridiculous thing your kid just did, or laugh at your ridiculous partner, otherwise you'll lose your mind and grow dangerously close to the edge of sanity.
You're Less Likely To Judge Other Parents
When you don't view yourself as some perfect, infallable human being, you are generally pretty cool and understanding and accepting of the very real, very human, very unavoidable imperfection around you.
Your Stress Level Goes Down, Which Means Your Kids' Stress Levels Go Down Too
You are far less likely to take your stress out on your children, when you take yourself less seriously. Instead of acting out irrationally towards your kids, you'll get rid of your stress with laughter and giggles and (much healthier) forms of relatively fun communication. (I'm still working on this one, but I don't think I'd ever douse my kid in ice water for hitting me with a spitball, so at least I have that going for me).
Because Letting Loose And Swearing Occasionally Is Good For You
A recent scientific study has suggested that swearing can alleviate pain , as well as make you feel stronger and indicate a higher level of intelligence. So let some steam off and swear a little bit. After all, it's healthy for fuck's sake.
You Don't Sweat The Small Stuff
Who cries over spilled milk? Laid-back moms do not cry over spilled milk, people. Unless it's an entire gallon or breastmilk that we have laboriously pumped for an endless number of hours. Then, you know, we cry.
Making Mistakes Is Less Of A Big Deal
Expecting absolute perfection, as a parent (or, you know, a human being in general), is arguably the most accurate definition of insanity. It's not doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results; it's holding yourself to an unatainable standard, fearing inevitable failure. Parenting is way easier on everyone when you're not being hard on yourself for messing up occasionally (or, you know, almost all the time).
People Who Don't Take Themselves Too Seriously Are Just Cooler
People who are fun to be around have more friends. Sorry not sorry, but that's the way it is. If you can laugh at yourself and your situation, people will experience an unsaid, silent permission to do the same. They'll feel accepted, because they know that you know that everyone messes up. And, trust me, parenting is much easier when you have people to laugh with.