We are all at home, living through unprecedented and uncertain times as we social distance with our families. With our more relaxed schedule, I am relishing more leisurely dinners together and am trying to tell more stories. The art of storytelling always brings laughter, joy and great memories.
Think back to the funny, crazy or wonderful stories of your past . . . how could you share them with your family? I promise, it will help you connect with everyone at the table — it’s even a great way to connect with your teen during this time.
This is the time for our generation to reinstate the art of storytelling!
I grew up in the late 70s and 80s when there was so much less to do — storytelling was a constant. It was especially my dad’s favorite pastime.
We would beg to hear his best ones again and again – the time he swam with sharks, the time he pulled an epic prank and put an MG in a college service elevator or the time he stole a police car and crossed state lines.
All true stories, the guy was crazy! You may not have committed comical felonies, but this is still an opportunity to have your kids get to know different sides of you.
Here are my tips for bringing back the art of storytelling:
- Grab their attention: Attract their interest with your first sentence. In my story below, I start with the hook, “I was nearly 2 weeks past my due date”. Who doesn’t love a good birth story? Plus, every kid wants to hear how they came to be!
- Keep them on the edge of their seat: Relish the build-up and pull your listeners in with emotion, pauses, voice fluctuations, eye contact. Describe the scene and build the anticipation!
- Edit: Feel free to skip over the boring parts and head for the drama. Focus on the hero’s journey – how the conflict was overcome. When telling a birth story, you can skip some of the monotonous labor and even some of the pain! Plus, use your best judgment about things you’d rather not have your kids know for now. But, don’t be afraid to break your own rules. knew about my dad’s crazy ways from infancy and I (sort of) turned out alright! It was honestly nice to know that he wasn’t perfect. His stories stay with me even today, helping to define the goals of my future semi-retirement plan of traveling the world.
- Learn from your extended family: We all can’t be together right now, but ask your family to Zoom over dinner and tell their best stories. Elder family members usually have such great story-telling skills! This is great training for your kids for when they tell or write stories on their own and this could be their chance to start practicing the sharing of their own adventures!
Your kids will enjoy seeing you relive happy moments and never forget the stories. Pretty soon, they will be begging you to retell your best ones. The art of storytelling can bring your whole family together.
Years from now, one of those stories may very well be how you made the best of a tough situation with new traditions at dinner.
My Birth Story: The Way I Brought Back Storytelling in My Family
It was nearly 2 weeks past my due date, and I was enjoying a (non-alcoholic) margarita. We were pool-side at a Memorial Day party surrounded by good friends and lobsters.
It felt so good to be outside in warm weather and laughing – we had been looking forward to this day for weeks. I had been feeling good and been taking care of myself with a daily nap. My nesting OCD skills had been in tip-top service: the freezer was packed, the baby’s room was ready and the checkbook was balanced.
I was pumped to have a day with friends knowing that life was about to change. I was so excited in fact, that I hadn’t been able to nap. That must have been my warning.
Today was going to be different.
The lobsters had just finished cooking when I felt it: my water broke! Amazingly, I felt no pain! We were now all crazy excited and laughing more than before as everyone kept asking, “Are you sure it’s OK if we have another lobster?”
I was thinking that I was some sort of baby-making champ, as this labor thing was a breeze.
We ate, we drank more faux margs and we joked. I was born for this!
I’m guessing my laughter brought it on. Within an hour, karma! Oh my dear gawd, THE. PAIN.
At home, I tried to nap, thinking I still had control and time to make up for the missed rest! But the pain came fast and hard. A call to my midwife ended with the advice to focus on something and bake cookies: I took this as proof she was bananas. There was no productive action, just survival.
The exciting part that kept me going..?
We had no idea if we were having a boy or a girl, we only knew the chosen name we loved no matter what.
I honestly could not wait to meet our baby.
I was lucky and grateful that things progressed so quickly. Murphy’s Law had fun with us when we got lost walking the halls in little old Portsmouth Hospital. Somehow we arrived on the maternity floor in a service elevator.
There, I labored for hours and felt exhaustion I’ve never experienced. I was committed to not having an epidural, but just wasn’t pushing hard enough. Finally, my midwife got tough – she leveled with me that she was about to have to cut me to get this to happen. I found the strength and Caden Avery was born at 4:44pm. The midwife said, “She’s beautiful!” I was so out of it by this point, I did not understand. I asked if it was a boy or girl. Again, she replied the same thing, “she’s beautiful.” I did not understand. Again, I asked. Finally, I heard the words I had been waiting for that made sense: “It’s a girl!”
I share this because her birth is one of my favorite stories. The napless day messed with my brain and my girl didn’t quite make the party she was trying to crash but in these past 15 years, she has brought more laughter, love, and fun into each day than I ever thought possible. That day changed my life. I love telling the story and she loves to hear it.