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Humour is important for parents, says comedian Jessica Holmes

Jessica holmes03 - humour is important for parents, says comedian jessica holmesBeing 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.

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