As much as we love our kids, sometimes we simply need a break from them. That doesn’t always seem possible however. Maybe you can’t find a reliable babysitter, maybe your husband has to work overtime or maybe your parents and in-laws live too far. Whatever the reason, do not despair! Just because you can’t find someone to watch your kids doesn’t mean you can’t have a break from those sweet sweet
terrors (I kid! I kid!) angels. Here are some ways you can catch 5 without the kids destroying the house and each other!
1. The Obvious Answer: TV
While not ideal for brain development there is no crime in having a little screen time. Sometimes everyone just needs to relax and veg for a while. But be warned, the average amount of screen time for American children is SEVEN hours! It’s okay to take some time to veg but don’t over do it and turn your children into vegetables! The AAP recommends a maximum of 2 hours of screen time per day.
I know, I know! First TV and now SUGAR? Probably not the best idea but oh so effective!! And really it doesn’t have to be sugar. It can be fruit, goldfish etc. It could even be broccoli! My oldest has an unnatural love for the stuff. The other day as we drove around a drive through he shouted, “Mama! I want fries! I want broccoli! I want cookies!” That was a pretty proud Mommy moment for me. Not so much that I was in a McDonald’s drive through (heh yeah not that at all) but that my toddler used the word broccoli and cookie in the same sentence! SAME SENTENCE PEOPLE!! Anyway, back to your break… Whether it be ice cream or tofu, give the kid a snack, one that he will like (maybe this one? Or one of these???) put them in their high chairs and then TREAT YO SELF! Let them pig out while you paint your nails, do your hair, or, OR (reality check ladies), you could go to the bathroom in peace (Happy sighhhh. I think Donna and Tom would approve!).
3. Release their inner Artíst!
Never underestimate the power of a blank piece of paper. Who knows! Maybe you’ll end up with a real Picasso on your hands! ;-P
You could also end up with half eaten markers. If your child, like mine, enjoys eating the tip off of their coloring utensils, you can buy a “Paint with Water” coloring book instead. Painting or coloring will stimulate their creative side and keeps my kids busy for about 10 minutes. That’s long enough for you to go to the bathroom FIVE times in a row! That’s even better of a break than sugar will give you! Not that I do that. I don’t go to the bathroom five times in a row. Who does that? Ahem. So yes painting or coloring can be a great activity for the kids AND can lend a break to Mom.
4. Capitalize on Nap Time
If your children still take naps, make sure you get the timing right so that they go down simultaneously. And WEAR those suckers OUT!
Play a game of tag, teach them leap frog, do jumping jacks, go for a family
walk run! Make sure that they have a snack high in protein and some good old fashioned sunshine before putting them to bed. It will help them sleep longer.
Nap Time = Mommy Time!
5. Bath Stickers
Gasp! Bath stickers?? “Does she use bath time to get alone time?” Isn’t that the cardinal rule of being a parent? Don’t leave your kids alone in the bathtub? I don’t know, but it should be high up there. Rest assured my kids are safely monitored when taking their baths. I have found, however, that their bath stickers are a great tool to use if I need a moment alone. Take a wet rag and use it to wipe down a flat surface like a window or fridge. For the next 5 minutes or so the stickers will stick to that surface. Recently, I put my 16 month old in his highchair and positioned it next to the kitchen window. While he played with the stickers I washed dishes with my 2 year old.
I have used that kitchen window for several different activities that require low supervision. Window clings, sensory paint bags, and window markers to name a few. Who knew windows could be so handy!
6. Listen to a good audiobook!
Sometimes the children will not be put off! No matter what they do, they want you right there in the mix. And that’s okay. We all have times when we are feeling a bit needy. While I definitely recommend you get down on their level and play with them, if you happen to be feeling needy or overwhelmed too, try listening to an audiobook while you build that tower or play hide and seek. It is a great way to take a mental break without taking a physical one. Last year, my husband bought me wireless bluetooth headphones and an Audible membership. They have been a huge benefit to me.
7. Don’t take a break.
As you search the internet for other ways to get that break and de-stress, remember that even when it feels like you have nothing left to give, God can provide you with strength! Being weak and worn down is not always a bad thing. It can be an opportunity to see the power of the Lord at work–in you!
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.” -Isaiah 40:28-31