Happy Train

Something about coming back from a trip  (and maybe from a good visit with a sister) leaves me all revved up, appreciating my kids more and freshly determined to be that good momma, the one who smiles and sings and keeps her perspective and is not so easily frayed around the edges.  So this week I’ve been smiling more, and hugging more, and when the kids push, just to see how much they can ruffle my mood, I’ve been creatively consequencing.

Today when I asked a kid to work on a writing assignment and he/she gave me a stink-face,  instead of growling I raised my eyebrows playfully and issued the consequence of planting 5 good kisses right on my cheeks– alternating sides, of course.  (We are a cosmopolitan family, after all.)  And as I got kissed, both our eyes were soon twinkling at the silliness and we both laughed, and then I kissed the kid on the forehead.  And while the child still didn’t feel like writing, he/she was smiling while going off to do it, and the mood was a darned sight better than it would have been with me growling.

The trick is to keep that cheery vibe, because, oh boy, whenever I get determined to be Mrs. Awesomesauce Mom, it seems like there are some who prefer to see me with steam coming out my ears.  (Not sure if that is actually true or if it is just my perception some days.) Anyhow, I would love to hear your best, most creatively playful responses on days when kids seem determined to derail your Happy Train.


  1. “Mrs. Awesomesauce Mom.” I have to remember that term, it’s great! There was one day that I was super cheery and my son just would not cooperate at the dinner table. So, instead of the usual fight to get him to sit still, I pulled out my camera. I just started snapping pictures of him. Every time he took a bite, I encouraged a funny face and would take another picture. By the end of it, the whole dinner table was laughing. It was great, and I got to remain “Mrs. Awesomesauce Mom!” 🙂

  2. Sometimes when things are getting blah blah blah around the house, we’ll play “Which One of You…” at the table. “Which one of you did Papa say looked like a baby squirrel when you were first born?” “Which one of you would eat only salt & vinegar potato chips when your gums were swollen from teething?” “Which one of you did everyone at church call Baby Eskimo?” “Which one of you would snap your fingers when you were 10 months old and wanted to nurse?” etc. etc. etc. Probably part of the reason they love it is that right now there are 8 of them, but this reminds them that they are still unique. Plus, it’s funny what memories they have of each other…sometimes they’ll add a “which one of you…” that we totally forgot about!

    I love your ideas and your spirit. You make me want to smile at my kids more!

  3. My daughter with attachment issues was driving me batty yesterday around lunch time. I pretended I was in a Disney musical for the entire lunch hour-while preparing, eating and cleaning. She was singing back at me by the end and happily went off to take her afternoon nap. So much better then me getting irritated at behaviors.

  4. So beautiful! The love of momma can change many things! My oldest is so much like my hubby. After a difficult day, I asked my hubby how to handle the grumpy mood from our eldest. He said, “Ask him to love on you.” That seemed like the oddest thing to me. Whatayaknow… it worked. Whenever he was getting grumpy or rude, I just asked him to give me a hug. He would smile and run to me. Now, I try to make more of a conscious effort to love on him.

    For other situations, we lay on the floor (the boys are 4 and 6) and play my grandpa’s favorite game: Nobody can stop the machine! I move my arms while saying it, and the boys try to stop me. They laugh and giggle, and we all get out of our funk. I don’t think it will be long until they can out-muscle me, but it works for now.

    The old standby is a snuggle on the couch and a prayer. Again, my boys are young, so they love to get snuggles with mama! And I’ll take it!!!

    Thank you for your beautiful, refreshing, and encouraging blog. You bless so many!

  5. Oh, how I needed this, this morning! I have been anything but happy and cheery this week. In our house (2 teens and an 8 year old) I generally say something along the lines of “Do you know how cute you are when your grumpy, yep keep on grumping.” “I love all that cute.” It generally makes them laugh, and then I say “I need love baby” meaning I need a hug. I feel better and generally they are more cooperative.

  6. My kids are still quite small, and I find there are very very few issues that cannot be solved by heaving them up by their ankles and then jiggling them around upside down while saying “we better shake those grumpies/naughties/anger/etc” out. They always end up laughing. I suppose I’ll need a new trick soon, because my 7 yr old is getting tough to heave!

  7. I find tickling generally quite effective. 🙂

  8. This morning I was giving my son an oral English review about nouns. I asked him to stand up and he started grumbling. So I made a big deal out of which square he needed to stand in, then he started giving me a harder time and I told him to hurry up or the alligators would get him. He started complaining because there are no alligators…then I started praising him because he told me a common noun (alligators). Then he said something else about the alligators and I started screaming and yelling good job, then I picked him up and started swinging him around and praising him for saying common nouns. By that time he was laughing and fussing because he didn’t want me to be silly, but he thought it was funny. So far he hasn’t tried grumbling again today.

    Now to remember to do something similar everyday as needed.

  9. I don’t know what the kids were screeching about yesterday when we got home, but it was crazy (and of course I was trying to go to the bathroom). So I let it all “work itself out” and when that didn’t happen, I called them both, calmly, into my room, made them climb on the bed with me for cuddles (two arms, two kids, easy) and said “I don’t know what you guys are screaming at each other about, but that is not a loving way to talk to each other, and since you obviously need some love, let’s all just cuddle together”. Once they both calmed down (there was still crying going on), the tickle monster started to appear, pesky guy, and pretty soon we were all rolling around laughing together. So glad I resisted the urge to screech back “WHAT ARE YOU SCREAMING ABOUT” – yeah, that would have solved a lot!

  10. For little irritations like slamming doors I make them come back and shut the door properly five or ten times. Or if they aren’t sitting properly we’ll get them to practice sitting up, like it’s a game, and they end up laughing.

  11. We have this little family tradition my husband and I started Before Kids. Someone will say something like, “This apple is very juicy.” And someone else (usually I) replies, “YOU’RE very juicy.” Or, “My dinner has a bunch of onions in it!” … “YOU’RE a bunch of onions.” It never fails to inject some humor and lighten the mood!

  12. Barbara Y says:

    My mother-in-law gave me this Awesomesauce trick. When my two get angry at each other, and I might want to shout at them to stop shouting, sometimes I remember it: I have the children sit in chairs facing each other (not within kicking distance), and I tell them they must sit there and look at each other and they MUST NOT LAUGH. It has never failed to bring giggles on within a very short time, and then there is an opening for their love to squeak through. Then, they can discuss the grievance with more care. Thanks Marilyn! 🙂

  13. I loved reading all these ideas! 🙂 I NEED to use each of them every day – I am not nearly as fun of a mom as I imagined I would be (3 kids ago…) 🙂 I have definitely been convicted lately that I need to choose joy in my days & will be using these ideas to infuse some more fun & laughter into our home this week!