This past week the internet fell in love with Texas mom Candace Payne after she created a Facebook Live Video of herself experiencing pure joy (and the most endearing belly laugh) from wearing a Chewbacca mask. I showed this video to my kids, and we were all in tears from laughing. We hit replay a dozen times and each time we lost ourselves in this rare blitz of fun, which got me thinking, how can parents add some of the Candace Payne flair to their parenting style and enjoy more of these spontaneous moments?
Learn How to Be Fully Present
These days it may seem easier to schedule fun than to let it happen naturally since everyone is so damn busy with work and school and life. But the thing is, you can’t actually schedule spontaneity—it has to just happen under the right circumstances. I doubt Candace woke up one day and said, “Today I will broadcast myself laughing like crazy on Facebook Live.” She obviously has a joyful spirit and an ability to be chill enough to see when the opportunity to experience bliss is right in front of her. Lucky for us, she let us join in her fun.
Learning how to be fully present takes practice, but it is not rocket science and it won’t take 10,000 hours of monk-like focus or a boring self-help book. It’s about taking a deep breath, and learning to just soak up a moment that will quickly pass. Don’t stress out about the zillion things you have to get done. Let all the shit from yesterday go. Not only does being fully present—or even just trying to be—help to reduce stress, but it puts you in a headspace that is more conducive to experiencing joy and fun.
Say Yes, Even If You Feel Crazy for It
Are you the mom or dad who says no all the time because you don’t want to clean an extra mess or throw a monkey wrench into your already packed schedule? Well, as counterproductive as this may sound, try saying, “Yes!” The next time your kid wants to do something messy or wild, just go with it. Finger paint on the floor? Why not! It’s washable, right? Don a cape and run around outside like superheroes? Why not! Your kids will think you are the epitome of awesome, and you’ll burn a few calories too. Ice cream for dinner? Well, maybe ice cream and fruit, but you get the point.
When it comes to kids, the ability to recognize that their turbo-charged imaginations are where spontaneity comes from can take as much practice as remembering to be fully present, but it is so worth it. Kids learn about the world through play, so why not let them be our tour guide for an hour or two of silliness?
Be Kind to Yourself
The best way to be happy is to be kind, and man, oh man, does the world need more kindness. As parents, we tend to put our full energy into the people we love, leaving us with very little energy to take care of ourselves. Be kind to yourself. Don’t let your inner critic lead you down a self-berating path of personal insults because you didn’t live up to unrealistic expectations. Mom guilt can be crushing, but don’t let it be. Shake that shit off. Remind yourself that you are worth the same amount of love and attention as everyone else in your life. Be kinder and gentler to you.
And while you are remembering to be kinder to yourself take, that golden opportunity to indulge in your own version of a Chewie mask. Maybe your simple joy is eating a plate of nachos, or going for a morning run, or maybe it’s a manicure to fix your cuticles after all that fun in the dirt with the kids. Whatever lifts your spirit or makes you belly laugh, turn to that and treat yo self! You deserve it, mama!
My favorite part of the Chewbacca Mom video is not that it is funny or even that it is silly; my favorite part is that we get to see what a genuinely happy mom looks like. And guess what? A happy looking mom doesn’t fit anyone’s mold. She is a mom, like you and me, in the middle of a parking lot, taking a moment for herself to enjoy something that is just hers.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be more like Chewbacca Mom and live for the “simple” joys. Hopefully that leads to less Stressed-Out Mom.