Games for the sleep deprived

After my last post – World’s Worst Dad – I received a number of emails from people who were concerned that I was either:

  1. Crazy
  2. Neurotic
  3. Charlie Sheen

Many of these messages contained pleasant reminders to relax and affirmations that I was probably doing a great job. (The messages about your problems with the movie The Chase I will forward to Mr. Sheen.) None of those kind responses did as much to affect my behavior as this message here:

…Babies/kids are little barometers and are constantly reading you. What is the message you are sending with irrational worry? The world is a scary place with bad things about to happen at every turn and you have to be on guard and fend off constantly?

The email had some nice things to say to me as well, but it was this excerpt above that really opened my eyes. Notice the (gentle) implication that by worrying around my daughter, I am actually causing more harm. It was this idea that has made me completely change my behavior. (Plus, I think my daughter actually smiled at me. Finally!)

So, I am a new man. A relaxed dad, confident, fun-loving… or at least I am faking it better.

As a public service, below is a list of improv games I play with my BOJ that you can also play with your wee tot at home:

Hot Spot: All players in a circle. One player steps into the circle and starts singing a known song. As soon as this player shows any signs of stopping (because she doesn`t know the lines any more, gets tired or embarrassed) another player needs to step in and take over (singing a different song).

Baby Modification: Although your dear one probably won’t sing (at least at first), stand while rocking your babe and sing whatever song comes into your head. When you have run out of lyrics, sing a new song. Keep singing. Usually a game best played at 2 am.

Should’ve Said (aka Ding): A scene is played. Whenever the MC rings a bell (or yells `Ding`), the player that is doing something/saying something needs to say/do something else.

Baby Modification: Do something. If your baby fusses or cries do something else. Keep doing new things until baby stops crying.

Mirror: Two players face each other. One moves (arms, legs, eyebrows) slowly, and the other player will mirror them. This is a game of give and take – no-one should be (continuously) leading. Keep movements slow.

Baby Modification: Your baby will be continuously leading. Follow. Do whatever facial expressions your baby makes. Wave your arms, suck your thumb, etc. It might not amuse your little one, but it can keep you occupied for hours.

Gibberish: Any of a series of scenes in which the spoken language on stage is gibberish. No known language may be used during the playing of gibberish scenes.

Baby Modification: Babies are naturally excellent at gibberish. Respond in kind. Try out different gibberish languages and see if baby prefers gibberish French or Jawa.

Silent Scene: Players perform a scene in which no words are spoken. The scene can be played realistically, or as a “silent movie.”

Baby Modification: Your baby is finally asleep. Be silent. Scream silently when you stub your toe.

Today’s Improvmantra: Have fun.

Sidenote: Read William Hall’s post of “Yes and,” and rules at Improv Notebook.


About improvmantra

What is an improv mantra? An improv mantra is a phrase you repeat to yourself just before you go on stage, and continue to keep in your mind while you are in a scene. An effective mantra makes you a better improviser. Todd Erler, like all living creatures, has been doing improv every day since he was born. He has been performing improv on stage for more than 20 years. He is a teacher, writer, musicain, director, actor, and member of The Portable Reality Show.
This entry was posted in Attitude, Improv Games, Parenting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Games for the sleep deprived

  1. Wendy says:

    Of course that advice worked for you, because it worked for me, too.

  2. improvmantra says:

    It did work! it was what I needed to “snap” out of my worry funk. Thanks!

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