Rule 11: You CANNOT Be Serious

This is part of an ongoing series chronicling my attempts to regain a bit of my sense of self, and my sanity, by implementing Elizabeth Lyons’ 32 Rules that Sustain a (Mostly) Balanced Mom. Subscribe to my RSS feed to get the whole series!

Don’t forget to check out Elizabeth’s assignment for each rule at the end of the post!

When you don’t know what else to do? Laugh.

Find the positive in the negative. Or for a cliche, make lemons out of lemonade.

I could relate to Elizabeth’s excitement in finding chardonnay juice boxes in the produce section of the grocery store mid-day. I could totally feel her frustrations with shopping at Target with her husband. We go in for milk and laundry detergent, and we leave with [opened] snacks, an air filter, clothes the kids don’t need (“But these are so cute!” And that’s him talking.), and God knows what from the dollar section (seriously, whoever invented that section is a bona fide genius). No milk or laundry detergent.

To which I cheerfully say, “Well, I guess I get to make another trip to Target!” Which sounds terribly like a Stepford Wife.

I’m not always that excited to have to make another trip to get something I forgot. And I forget a lot. But is it the worst thing in the world? Probably not.

Sometimes I get caught so up in what I’m doing, I forget my surroundings. I’m up in the morning, changing diapers, giving kisses, herding everyone into the kitchen, fastening straps, peeling bananas, slinging Cheerios, pouring milk, popping waffles in the toaster, all while staving off my own hunger and stealing longing glances at the coffee maker. Hubs comes in, hovers around me, puts a hand on my shoulder, and just plain gets in my way. And all he wants is a good morning hug from his wife.

It’s then that I realize I’m on autopilot and I need to snap out of it. We’re tired in the morning. We just want to get the breakfast served. Peaceful and quiet meals are a rarity around here (although they do happen from time to time), and we find ourselves just being too serious about things. Kids banging spoons on the table. Annoying? Yes. Life or death situation in which they must stop or this meal is over? Um, no.

I CANNOT be too serious around two 3 year olds and a 1 year old. They won’t allow it. I have to be silly, dance to a stupid song when they’re cranky, and just go with the flow.

Important quotes from Rule 11: “I highly recommend reserving a serious attitude for those few occasions that truly require it…If you can laugh or find something positive in the not-so-great moments as often as possible, those occasions during which a serious response is all you can muster will not only be few and far between, but easier to manage.

Elizabeth’s assignment for Rule 11: Can you recall a situation in which you took things much more seriously than necessary (in hindsight of course)? The next time you find yourself in a serious mood, ask yourself if it’s really required or can you lighten up a bit?

Purchase your own autographed copy of You CANNOT Be Serious! You can also follow Elizabeth Lyons on Twitter: @elizabethlyons


Join the Conversation


  1. I've never heard of this book! I'll have to go check it out.
    Sometimes I think I need to lighten up, but at the same time, that's what my husband is for. He's so easy going and I'm so Type A. So far it seems to work really well. There are times when Blake needs discipline, and there are times when he just needs to be silly.

  2. This is exactly how I keep my sanity and my brood of 4 kiddos in line at the same time. Crap happens! Might as well laugh as long as no one is bleeding! (or barfing!)
    Thanks for the reminder though… I've been on a serious kick lately… and needed a serious kick in the BUTT!

  3. This is a good one. Sometimes, ALL you can do is laugh because if you don't, you find yourself reduced to tears. At least I do. I like Ron White's twist on the lemonade cliche – if life gives you lemons make lemonday an then find someone whose life gave them vodka and have a party!

  4. Sometimes it is hard to find the positive in the negative (especially first thing in the morning) but you are right that the kids won't allow serious. They want fun and they don't care what time of day it is.

  5. The more time that goes by, the better I am at "catching" myself at being too serious and forcing myself to chill out. It sure ain't easy though!

  6. i need to remind myself of this one almost daily. i too can feel the irritation creeping up as i'm hustling around to tend to the kids and all r wants to do is give me a hug… god how awful am i? ugh… time to lighten up.

  7. I have a pattern of treating every moment in my life as if it is the. life. changing. moment. And not in a good way. I have expectations, and my feathers get more than ruffled if things play out differently. Basically, I am a 3 year old in an almost 40 year old's body. I am working on this.

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