Humour is important for parents, says comedian Jessica Holmes

By Jessica Holmes on September 16, 2013
Being a comedian and a parent comes with pros and cons. The cons are having no idea what my schedule (or income) will be one week to the next (try scheduling that daycare), and disappearing into a corner with paper and pen whenever inspiration hits (soccer game or birthday party be damned); but the pro is that our house is often full of laughter. Sure I’m funny on camera, but more often than not, my husband (who is also in ‘the business’) and I are able to “find the funny” in everyday situations.

For my little family of four, many dull moments turn into a bit of a comedy talent show. That means a lot to me. I suffered post-partum depression and having seen the dark side of motherhood, I’ve been celebrating every fun moment since recovering a few years ago.

These belly-laugh-inducing activities have become habit for us (warning: nerd alert), and you might enjoy them, too:

Thanks for the memories

My dad bought me a digital photo frame for Christmas a few years ago. It sits next to the dinner table, so when we’re eating, we can laugh about our fun times together: the trips, the mishaps, the bad, last-minute Halloween costumes, my ‘80s hair, my ‘90s hair, my current hair.

The funny journal

Years ago, I started keeping a comedy journal instead of a complaints journal, so I can focus on the laughs instead of the heartaches. I keep a list of funny things the kids say and do: “Mom, you look like a raw chicken in that swimsuit.” “Mom, I wish my name was Wee-nis.” “Mom, Can you please brush your teeth before you read to me?” The kids love when I read these quotes back to them. It’s hilarious!

Create a soundtrack

My husband (a professional voice-over guy) has always made me laugh by giving sound effects to annoying drivers: if they’re going too slow, he sings a Mister Magoo-ish “beeerum-bee-dumpada- rumpee-doooooo” song; if they’re driving like a maniac, he makes a police siren sound. Yup, he’s like that guy in the Police Academy movies! We apply it to the kids – if they’re getting dressed too slowly, on comes a slow-poke soundtrack; if they’ve made a mess, it’s the Jaws theme. I warned ya: we’re total nerds!

Misery loves company

Tweeting about whatever awkward thing just happened makes me feel like we’re all in this together! So when my daughter asks “Mommy, why did God make your hair yellow everywhere, but black in the middle?”, I’m only cringing till I get to a computer.

Sketch comedy

I used to pack a giant bag overflowing with activities for even the shortest excursion, because bored kids mean mom’s on entertainment duty (and maybe mom didn’t have enough coffee to put on a dog and pony show). But instead of bringing a portable toy store with me, I’ve gotten better at just bringing paper and pen along – so we can sit and do games like Hangman or X’s and O’s, or my favourite, the amateur self-portrait! It’s a nice reminder that less is more.

Evening & weekend no-phone plan

No email, very few text messages, and only answering the phone if it’s family or friends. Trust me, for us entertainment types, this requires an insane amount of discipline, but yields the greatest payoff! My kids and I count on being together on the weekends. Now when I’m with my kids, I’m focused on them. They don’t act out as much to get attention, and I don’t stress about a weekday problem on a Saturday afternoon.

Group exercise

I used to ignore exercise on the weekends, and think “I’ll get around to it when the kids are in school on Monday…or maybe next Monday. Or maybe I’ll just wait till the new year.” But I need that outlet, so I’ve incorporated the kids into it; even if it’s just a 10-minute dance-off, or eight minutes of Tabata-style interval training with them hanging off me. We laugh at each other’s weird stretch positions or unnecessarily complicated exercise inventions, like the burpee that ends with a real burp.

These activities work for us as my kids are only four and six. It hasn’t occurred to them yet to be embarrassed of their over-the-top parents. Making our family life fun is something I have to remind myself of often, because teaching kids to stop and smell the roses starts when we learn to enjoy the present. But I’m a work in progress – and that’s something to laugh about!

Jessica currently stars in the web series That’s My DJ and is busy writing for TV. Read more at jessicaholmes.com.


Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, October 2013.

By Jessica Holmes| September 16, 2013

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