Last week Dean Shareski gave me the privilege of giving an Ignite talk at #canconnected15 in Niagara Falls. I don’t think my actual talk was filmed, but here is the script and slides. It seems only fitting that I post this on Mother’s Day as it’s a dedication to my children.

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In many ways, I feel like an actor. In the classroom I am a laid back, go with the flow, adventurous risk taker but in the rest of my life I am a type A firstborn control freak. I love who I am in the classroom. I’m relaxed and open to possibilities but when out in my regular everyday life, the insecure introvert shines through.

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Recently I read a tweet that stuck with me. 4-6 year olds laugh 300 times a day versus adults who laugh less than 20. The validity of the statistic is questionable, but it made me reflect, nonetheless.

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I decided I needed to embark on an inquiry. I realize that it’s not exactly scientific as I didn’t follow the proper steps of inquiry model as outlined in the new Ontario Social Science curriculum, but I figured that my anecdotal / qualitative research would have to suffice.

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Unfortunately, I realized that I embody the statistic. On weekdays I start my day at 5:30am and head to school by 7:30. Over the course of that time I am getting ready for work, getting my girls up and dressed (or trying not to let them put lipstick all over the mirror or flush anything down the toilet), packing lunches, cooking breakfasts, as well as taking care of the dog. I observed that in that time, I hardly laughed or even smiled at all. The really sad part, however, is that of those two hours, at least one is spent with either one or both girls and I wasn’t fun.

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My research at school is a little better. In my timetable this year I’ve had two sections of grade ten applied English. Some teachers don’t really enjoy teaching the applied level but I love it. I find those students interesting, genuine, real, and consequently, they make me laugh.

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After work I head to pick up my girls from school and daycare but yet again I realized that I’m missing out on the potential for fun and laughter. When I get home, I start dinner, as well as complete a variety of other chores and that’s not including the time I spend on the weekends preparing for week ahead. It takes a lot of time to manage and run a home effectively, but I’ve come to realize that there has to be a way to make it more joyful.

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The statistic suggested that 4 year olds laugh 300 times a day and since I live with a two year old and a four and a half year old, I have now turned my inquiry to the experts under my own roof. Here are my observations about how to infuse more fun and laughter into life:

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1. Add a little music – my girls love to sing and in all honesty, I swear music plays in their heads 24 hours a day. Their favourite songs right now are Land of the Silver Birch (or Wand of the Silver Birch if you’re two), Let it Go of course (or wet it go), and Shut Up and Dance (although I’m not so keen on them running around singing shut up…)

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2. Which brings me to my next observation, if you hear and feel the music, bust a move. At any given day my girls are “shaking if off” or “donkey riding” around the house.

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3. Go outside – since the weather has gotten warmer, my girls are wanting to be outside from early in the morning until it’s dark. We have to drag them kicking and screaming into the house, but in today’s sedentary society, this makes me happy.

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4. Bare feet make everything better. I’m forever finding little balled up socks around my house and at least once a day I hear two little high pitched giggles about “stinky feet”

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5. Find someone or a safety net of people who will help with the heavy lifting. Honestly, this is my day every.single.day. And in fact, this was me last week. I was carrying school bags and Cali and Lexie asked me to carry a stick. It was priceless.

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6. Enjoy the little things. While I was working on this presentation, my girls were running around the backyard laughing hysterically at the bubbles my husband was blowing for them.

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7. Get a little silly. Both my girls, thankfully, got their father’s genes on this one as I’ve never truly mastered the art of being silly. My mother has always called me her “little old woman” as I’ve been serious since I was a baby.

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8. Don’t underestimate the power of reading – whether it’s Snuggle Puppy, The Paper Bag Princess, or One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, reading is good for the soul

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9. Show your feelings – my girls are open books yet this is something with I struggle with every single day. By nature I’m a peacemaker and try to avoid conflict, but what I’m slowly learning is that I need to embrace my feelings instead of keeping them bottled up inside.

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10. But the most important observation about them has to be that in order to laugh and have fun, we have to surround ourselves with people that bring this part of us out. Lexie and Cali are each other’s best friend and confidantes and spend much of their time laughing together doing things like hiding in their favourite spot behind the couch, racing around like fools on their riding toys, or telling each other stories in the back seat of our cars. I need to remember that I can’t do everything on my own and to let people in to experience all the ups and downs and wonders life has to offer.

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In considering my observations, it’s obvious that I have homework. I’m not a fan of assigning homework in the classroom but, this has purpose and meaning and I’m all in.

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