I tell everyone to get ready: we're going on the Fun Train. It always has three stops, and the only one who knows where it's headed is me. Stops might include the library, our local doughnut shop, or a toy store. There is never any arguing when I say the Fun Train is leaving for its next stop.
We go to our Smile Box. Inside are slips of paper on which we've written suggestions for goofiness. The moody person might choose something like "Make the silliest face you can" or "Do a crazy dance move." It always gets us to stop what we're doing and laugh.
We pull out a joke book and read aloud the best jokes.
Whether I'm cooking dinner, folding laundry, or picking up my kids' rooms, I start singing about it in a big, deep, operatic voice. At the least, it startles the kids into smiles when they're frowning or in tears; at best, we end up in rollicking laughter.
A surefire remedy to bust my kids' bad moods was a trip to the local pet store. We'd make a beeline for the puppies and get licked, chewed, and loved. Problems solved!
Christopher A. Casale
My 5-year-old likes slapstick humor, such as my pretending to trip or bump into something. I'll really ham it up so she knows I'm not hurt, and she can't help but laugh at her normally very serious mom turning into a complete goofball.
When my children were younger, a no-fail game changer on bad days was making play dough. I'd let each child pick a color, and we'd have fun measuring, mixing, and cooking it.
Through the year, everyone in the family adds notes of good things we've received -- "playtime with a friend," "field trip to the aquarium," "tire swing" -- to our Blessings Box. When someone's in a funky mood, these always get us smiling.
Bowling Green, KY
I break out the balloons or bubbles for my kids, Emery, age 3, Jamis, 5, and Wyatt, 7. I'm pretty sure it's impossible to remain grumpy when these fun objects are around.
I "turn our day around" and get my 5-year-old, Abigail, giggling by spinning her a few times. Turns to the left don't work? Turn her to the right!
Orange Park, FL
If my kids are in a bad mood, we have a "1-2-3 dance party." I count to three slowly, turn up some music, then yell, "Dance party!" It works every time.
Fairchild AFB, WA
Originally published in the May 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.