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Parenting Tips for the Tired Mommy

Ever have one of these days?

As a stay-at-home mom who is alone with a three and a five year old for 11.5 hours a day, five days a week, I find it hard to keep up my energy level. We all have days where we allow an extra television show or a 10 extra minutes on PBSKids.org. But there are many activities that you can actually participate in with your children – screen free! – while still taking a break and catching up on some R & R.

1. Hair Salon: Today I plunked down in my daughter’s soft, cozy reading chair and allowed my hair to be soaked with wets tissues, teased into a nest of tangles, and even “plucked” with plastic, pink tweezers from a toddler’s doctor kit. My son decorated my head with bits of soggy paper towel and my daughter twisted a beaded necklace around a head band until it came complete with an ill-fitting, metallic chin strap. Did I take pictures? Heck, no. But I did close my eyes and enjoy their squeals of laughter while I had a little rest.

2. Camp Out – But In! This is one of my personal favorites. Pull out your child’s pop-up tent/ballhouse/tunnel and fill it with pillows, a stack of favorite picture books, and a couple of flashlights. Get everyone to crawl inside and while you snuggle and have a little peace, let your children enjoy “reading” in the “great outdoors.”

3. Doctor: Before I headed to the pre-schooler hair salon today, I had a variety of ailments to be checked out. The best place to set up your child’s doctors’ office is on a bed – preferably the most comfortable one. My children removed my hidden splinters, checked my blood pressure, took my temperature and even bandaged one of my hands. I was instructed to close my eyes and handed a blankie to keep me cozy. At the end of my appointment they even brought me a treat for my quiet behavior. They thought I was playing with them, and I thought I was chasing an impending headache. Perfect.

4. Dentist: If you are truly brave, move from doctor to dentist. But beware…my children wanted to pull each and every tooth…

5. Spa: If your children are a little older and a bit more responsible, set up a mini-spa in your kitchen or bathroom. Place some moisturizing dish soap in bowls of warm water, drag in a couple of reclining lawn chairs, and stretch out in luxurious comfort. This is a great time to put on some adult CD’s that would normally not make it past the KRC: kids’ regulatory commission. A little Mozart, anyone?

6. Fort: While pregnant with Noah I recovered an entire sectional from 1980something for the sole purpose of playing fort with my children. Now that they are old enough to build masterpieces on their own, this is a great time to sprawl out on the floor and participate by propping up a supporting wall while mentally planning dinner, grocery lists, and how to get away to a tropical island…sans the kids.

One caveat: All of these R&R filled play ideas end with a giant mess, but with a little luck….dad will be home by then.

(Despite the snark, trust me that these tips work. Even Mommy needs down time every now and again! Now I need to go wash the paper towel from my hair…)

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