Let me introduce you to mat shove and tickle tackles.
You know those days where you get woken up by screaming because your daughter has hit her little sister for being on her side of the room, only to find out your son decided to make a flying fox off the roof of your house?
You come back inside to help your children get ready for school, which apparently, they have forgotten how to do, despite the fact they have been doing it for the last 7 years. You finally get the kids off to school but have an extremely stressful day at work.
Then you go to pick up the kids from OOSH and they are at each other’s throats. You drive home and feel like you are absolutely going to explode. Your anger and frustration are at toxic levels, and you know if one more person even breathes heavily, you are likely to turn into a screaming banshee?
I want to be honest here… The last thing I feel like doing on those days is playing with my kids. I am exhausted, cranky and just want to have some time out by myself to settle down and relax. But of course, these are the days when my kids are also cranky and feeding off my negative vibes. It’s a vicious cycle!
We have a choice here. We can continue to escalate and get crankier and crankier until we explode OR we can change the atmosphere in our house. The way I do this is by taking literally 5-10 mins out of our normal routine and play mat shove or tickle tackle.
These games are as simple as they sound. Tickle tackle is where I am sitting on my bed and my daughter has to try and escape from me tickling her. She is very fast, and I am not the champion of this game…yet! Mat shove is my son and I, trying to shove or wrestle each other off the rug in our lounge room (think sumo wrestling style).
These games always end up with us laughing so hard my stomach hurts and our mood lifts, almost instantly. It can take as little as 5 mins to break the cycle of anger and frustration. I use this not only for myself but when I notice the kids are in a cranky or snappy mood. It honestly works every single time.
When we laugh, our body reverses the stress response. Our body releases dopamine and serotonin (neurotransmitters), which serves as a ‘reward’ for the brain. Laughter increases our immune function, decreases our levels of stress, reduces anxiety and improves our mood1. Exercise (even small bursts such as these) also increases dopamine levels and releases endorphins in the brain that have a positive effect on our mood and can actually reduce the severity of ADHD symptoms in the short term2.
Wrestling your child like a sumo wrestler in a game of mat shove, may not be your cup of tea (or what your child likes!) and that’s fine! What about a game of tickle tackle, jumping on the trampoline together, a quick game of chasies, a water balloon fight, running races or a nerf gun war? Anything that is likely to get you laughing together and gives a quick burst of exercise will work!
I challenge you to give it a try this weekend. Despite how you feel, dive into the activity and give it all you’ve got! If you do it consistently enough, your children will actually ask for it.
Comment below to let me know how you go!!