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Make your kids smile

Molly Cerreta Smith has enjoyed a career in the publishing industry for more than 10 years. As an editor of several regional magazines, she has had the opportunity throughout her career to meet many local celebrities, businesspeople, ent...

Don't worry, be happy

Have you noticed how complicated life has gotten? Keeping up with the Joneses now involves enrolling your child in three different language classes, not to mention karate and bull-riding lessons. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, your kids are perfectly happy doing simple things. So slow down, relax and enjoy some happy time with your little ones with these easy, fun and silly ideas.

Mom and daughter smiling

Declare "Opposite Day"

When you ask, "How was your day?" don't be upset when your child shouts, "Terrible!" After all, it's Opposite Day. See how long your kids can keep the game going throughout the day. Don't forget to keep it going yourself. (But don't get caught saying something like, "If you don't NOT clean your room right now, I won't take your toys away!") That will backfire big time!

Monster mash

Deem yourselves monsters. Make up monster names for your kids and even for yourself, and declare a "fact sheet" about the kind of monster you are. For example:
Species: Momasaurus. Herbivore (especially loves spinach salad with strawberries).
Likes: Playing with her little monsters and breakfast in bed.
Dislikes: Dirty fingernails and temper tantrums.

Joke of the day

Instead of the usual "Hi Kyle, Mommy loves you" note tucked into your child's lunchbox, why not include a funny joke? On a piece of paper, write down a goofy joke like the following: Two muffins are in the oven. One muffin looks at the other and says, "It's hot in here." The other says, "Holy cow! A talking muffin!"

Story by you

Have you read Goodnight Moon so many times you could recite it in your sleep? Yeah, we hear you. Instead of reading it from front to back, start at the end and read it backwards or try to make up your own words ("Goodnight rocks and goodnight frocks"). If you are really creative, make up your own story with your children, and let each one add a part to the tale.

Eat a smile

Start the day off with a smile by whipping up some happy pancakes. They don't have to be perfect, but make a smiley face in your child's pancakes using his favorite sweet treats -- whipped cream, strategically placed fruit slices and/or chocolate chips.

Calming clouds

Lay a blanket out on the grass in the backyard and watch the clouds go by. Ask your children to pick out clouds that look like everyday things or encourage them to get creative as to what the shapes reveal.

Pajama jam

Do you dare spend the whole day in your PJs? Your kids will! Try to pick a day where you don't have to be anywhere too important! Onlookers at the convenience store will probably forgive your silly duds. Your boss, on the other hand, may not.

Wiggle it out

Get out some of your children's music, turn up the volume and dance around the living room. Encourage each child to take a turn creating a dance move, then have the other children try to mimic it.

Tickle party

Few things induce more giggle fits than a classic tickle party. And who knows your children's really ticklish spots better than you? They'll love the extra affection, and you can cherish the sound of those giggles forever.

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