Have you watched the late Bob Ross, the Happy Painter and his happy little trees and clouds? Bob Ross was a wonderful painter who used to teach painting on The Joy of Painting on PBS. He had crazy hair, his own style, and a voice that was so calming. I loved to watch him as a teenager and now I watch him with my kids.
Even if you aren’t a painter, watching Bob Ross paint is relaxing. His voice is soft and calm and everything he paints is happy. When I’m stressed or my kids are stressed, watching him for 10 minutes literally lowers our heart rate.
Aside from his calming effect, the other thing that I love most about watching Bob Ross paint is that he is perfectly accepting of himself. He repeatedly says, “There are no mistakes, just happy accidents.” If he makes a mark on the canvas that wasn’t planned, he is excited to see that happy little trees want to live there. He makes that line or spot into a tree by extending the line and adding colors. By being flexible and accepting his mistake, he turns that mistake into a beautiful part of his painting.
In our lives, each day is a painting that we are painting one choice and action at a time. If we can show the same accepting flexibility with our mistakes and challenges as Bob Ross shows with his “happy accidents”, our lives can be so happy. I am not a perfectionist. I realized long before I was a mom of 8 kids that with my personality, I could either be a perfectionist or I could be sane. Now with 8 kids, my days almost never go as planned and I need to learn to roll with it. (See this post for an example of how my family rolled with it on my birthday this year.)
My daily mantra is “Turn your mistakes and challenges into happy little trees”. I wish I could say my life is as calm and happy as one of the episodes of The Joy of Painting. Of course it isn’t, but when I can remember to view my mistakes as happy accidents, my days go much better and my whole family benefits. This is something I am trying to teach to my kids and I work to try to be an example of this as a parent.
Some Examples of Turning Parenting Mistakes and Challenges into Happy Little Trees:
- If I am planning to make something for dinner but I don’t have an ingredient, we can pretend we are on Chopped and see what we can make with the ingredients we do have.
- Being stuck in traffic is a wonderful time to talk to my kids without distractions or just sing loudly and be silly.
- Lost shoes provide a chance to teach our kids problem solving skills.
- My kids love the tradition of being able to wrap some of their siblings’ Christmas presents. This tradition started because I waited until the very last minute to wrap Christmas presents one year and I knew I couldn’t wrap them all in time. I made it into happy little trees by offering to let my kids be my helpers and they could know what some of their sibling’s gifts were.
- My girls and I love the tradition of our “Girl’s Parties” that we have when my husband takes the boys (and now some daughters) on hunting or fishing trips. This started as a challenge. My daughters were too young to go but they were sad to be left behind. To turn the situation into a “happy little tree” I decided to have a “girl’s party” where we rent a movie, order pizza and do each other’s nails. They loved it so much that it became a tradition and now some of my girl’s can’t wait for the boys to leave so we can party. (I have a post on this fun party here.)
When my kids talk about their best memories and favorite traditions, almost all of them started with a mistake or challenge that we turned into happy little trees. I love the example of Bob Ross and his calm acceptance of his happy accidents. His paintings are more beautiful for the way that he is flexible and works with the mistakes he makes in his work. The same can be true of the paintings we paint as parents each day. If we can be accepting of ourselves and our mistakes and challenges and turn them into happy little trees, our days will be filled with more beauty and happy memories for our children.
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