Moms are overachievers by nature. The person who is the hub of the home and the manager of the household is surely a living, breathing phenomenon! So how can I help you get more out of your day? Here are some moments of time you may be missing out on.
1. Nap Time
Nap time=”What can I do, accomplish, conquer!?” time. It’s when moms around the globe put down their little ones, pick up their capes, and run businesses, write blogs & sometimes even recharge (take a nap, read a book, pray, rest). It’s time to think, dream, plan & implement. It’s the original power hour! There’s a chance that (just like any board meeting) an interruption will occur, the venture will be pushed back or completely cancelled, but it’s worth the risk. Nap time is great for reorganizing the chaos you’ve been “overlooking” or pushing to the back burner. So dump those unneeded files (paper or electronic), clean out the junk drawer, update your vision board & ditch the unwanted apps on your phone. Unsubscribe to 5 unwanted email senders, throw away completed to-do lists, trash empty ink pens & old magazines that are cluttering your workspace or conquer a dresser drawer or section of your closet. The possibilities are endless!
What a better way to get a few hours to handle business? Whether you’re hosting or another family is, playdates are a great way to occupy kids. My oldest is 12 & I swear the kid goes on autopilot on a play date. Ok, at his age it’s not a play date. It’s “have a friend over”, but as long as the noise is at a reasonable level, it keeps them busy & gives me time to do what I need to do. Little girls & boys keep each other occupied making forts, sharing stickers & “beauty tips” (hide your lipstick), playing war or dress up. This is also a great time to try out all the cool kiddie stuff you find on Pinterest! Buy 2 pool noodles, some balloons, a pack of paper plates & break out the markers to make cool games for hours of fun! Check out my board for more ideas.
3. Sleep overs
I know some are thinking, how is a house full of giggling, running, jumping kids going to help me get anything done? Well, who said it had to be hosted at your house? Pack your little ones up & cart them over to their friends house! (*You may have to bite the bullet later & reciprocate, but it’ll be worth it. I include hints below for how to navigate the noise as well.) This is like a retreat-for YOU!! Get your child out for one or more days & have a revolution! Plan it out! Decide what you’ll focus on for every block of free time. Put it on a list, board, app, whatever, to see the vision of what you want to get done. When it’s your turn to host, create a movie “room” by making a fort from sheets, sliding a tv in the back, lay out a spread of popcorn & snacks. If you really want to hook it up, get the vintage popcorn buckets, mason jars for candy containers & paper cups with a tray (or kid-sized lawn chairs with cup holders if you have them) for each child. Pop in movies like Cars, The Incredibles or Tangled & turn down the lights & it’s lights, camera, action! That’s at least an hour of time to make some progress.
4. Kid organizations or events
Our church is GOLD. We have retreats & overnights for kids at least 4 times a year. They want our kids to go & our kids love the people who host them, so we chuck them out the door every time! They’ll stay at local camps or even at friend’s houses. Some communities have churches that host a weekly “Mother’s Morning Out” where kids can be dropped off from 1-4 hours to play while Mom takes a break, runs errands, works or has a play date of her own! You can also send your children to boy/girl scout meetings, AWANA, vacation Bible school, overnight summer camps, etc.
During the school year, we take our kids to AWANA which is a children’s Bible study. They get to learn all kinds of things, earn prizes for knowing scripture, play games & even get awards! My kids LOVE it & beat us out the door to go! Best thing is, when we drop them off, we know they’re safe & we can go to our adult Bible study, run some errands or grab a snack & talk. It gives us time to reconnect, identify potential or existing problems, kick some ideas around & come up with solutions. Having an hour or two to do this on a weekly basis has made a huge difference in the closeness & efficiency of our family.
5. Sports practice, kids cooking classes, swimming & art classes
Classes & practice are great ways for your kids to learn skills & bond with others their age. Why not take the opportunity to snatch some time while they’re busy learning? Sign your kids up for cooking classes (imagine they payoff for that!), horseback riding lessons, sports mini-camps or other interest your child may have. Here locally, we had a mini camp that was one day a week for 2 hours in the evening & was only four bucks a lesson! It covered soccer, karate & cheer leading & lasted for weeks! It was a great opportunity for the kids to meet new people, learn new things & learn that Mommy & Daddy are not their personal wikipedia. Other people know things, too!
Other ideas include art classes to spark a future phenom, computer basics for kids (now that’s a needed skill for their generation) or even ballet or tap for beginners. You’ll never know what fun things you’ll find until you look for it. Do a little networking at work, their school, your neighborhood or church to find more gems you may have overlooked.
6. R & R
Libraries are awesome for reading time, camps, arts & crafts sessions and cultural diversity lessons. Consider dropping the kids off at a local shopping mall with a few bucks in their pockets (payoff for your time to work), concerts (some libraries hold concerts or movies on the grass), skate or bike parks, skating rinks, movie theaters or any other kid-friendly place that doesn’t require your presence. One thing to consider is location. Sometimes it’s not practical to drive all the way back home (it can eat into your creative time), so work in the parking lot, designated parental waiting area, pop into a coffee shop or grab a quiet corner in the library & get to work.
There are some places where your kids can have fun & you can still work if you can tone out noise. Kids can keep themselves busy at indoor bounce facilities (like Bounce U, Monkey Joe’s or our favorite, Bumper Jumpers), indoor trampoline or even the local park or arboretum.
7. Fun & Games
How about dropping them off to see a sporting event? When I was a kid I always wanted to go to the football or baseball games at school. I rarely got to go, so when I did, it was a big deal! It’s not expensive & it’s in a monitored environment. Win-win! Our city has a ton of events through the week that give your kid an outlet & give you some time to work or just chill out. Even if your kids are too young to go by themselves, you can take your phone, tablet or laptop if it’s appropriate (I wouldn’t advise taking it to the movies or a concert). Hit those to-do lists hard & if you encounter a time when everyone is out of the house & time permits, schedule in a nap for yourself!
You work. You contribute. Why aren’t your kids? Ok, everything in moderation. If you are showing them all work & they’re just doing all play, what are you teaching them? That you’ll do all the work & they get to play. Find different organizations who are floundering for volunteers & sign them up! Consider retirement communities, libraries (help shelve books, learn about community efforts, exposure to poetry, civic endeavors & other events), schools (OMG, what teacher doesn’t need an extra set of hands when setting up her room???), churches, local businesses (run copies, learn to make coffee, help with filing), community gardens, etc. who may just need a hand. You give your kids exposure, they get to learn from someone other than you & who knows? It may ignite a passion & fire in them that no one knew was there! I dropped my kids off to VBS a week or so ago & thought only the youngest two could register. Well, they were so happy to have my 12 year old volunteer, they fought over him every day! At the beginning, he was reluctant. To be honest, he hated it until the 3rd day. Once he found something he liked, he was all in & was upset when it was over! Now volunteering is not a hard sell for him.
9. Scavenger hunts & bubbles
I once read an article about a mom who routinely threw scavenger hunts for her kids so she could get work done without the kids banging around the house. While a scavenger hunt in itself is an awesome idea, she took it one step further. She made up a hunt called “100 Pennies”. Her kids would get to go on a trip to their desired destination (ice cream, toy store, etc.) if they found the 100 pennies she’d thrown in the back yard. The trick she used? She only threw out 99!!! Quite deceptive, but hey, in her situation I guess desperate times called for desperate measures! Seriously though, “pay” your kids for the time they allow you to get work done. Take them out or give them a treat for it! They’ll soon learn it “pays” to be quiet when Mommy is working.
I learned a long time ago on kid #1 that a bottle of bubbles will keep just about any kid under 10 (yeah, some adults, too) occupied for at least 15 minutes. No kidding! There’s something about blowing & chasing those glassy orbs around the yard before they pop on anything that gets us every time. You can even find games you can play like obstacle courses (setup will be at least 15 minutes), who can blow the biggest, who can blow the smallest, whose lasts the longest, etc. If that’s not their bag, consider letting them “wash” the car by furnishing the water, bucket & soap. It may not be the best car wash you’ve ever had, but just wash it again later when they’re not around. No hard feelings & they feel like they contributed.
10. Birthday Parties
I have a friend who is a genius. Her kids must attend 2 birthday parties a month. At first, I thought she was nuts. All that scheduling, buying cards & gifts, driving to God knows where just for 2 hours? Then I thought about it. That’s a good deal! Especially if you carpool! Get a quiet house for 2 hours or more for the cost of a doll or action figure & a card? Sign me up!!!
Having your child’s birthday party off site is a big help, too. No cleaning up (or patching up) your house after the kids arrive. No baking cakes or putting up decor. We get a Chuck-E-Cheese party or schedule a laser tag or indoor bounce facility & let them go nuts! The other parents are happy because they can drop off & when they pick up, the kids are fed & worn out. The kids also get a chance to bond. You get to meet new people, too! To set up future play dates, birthday parties & carpools. Mwah-ha-haaaa! (evil laugh)
I hope I’ve inspired you with something you’ve read. If not, please toss your ideas & experiences in the ring so you can help others! ;-)
- New Experience #27: Messy Play Date (52brandnew.com)
- summer shenanigans (pirateru.wordpress.com)
- How to manage the overachiever in you (quest2b.typepad.com)
- Successful People Relax and Take Time Off to Recharge! (mentalflowers.wordpress.com)
- How to Host a “Let’s Have a Ball” Playdate! (melissaanddoug.com)