Whether you work outside the home or stay with the kids, whether you are in your 20s or in your 50s, whether your kids are she-devils or angels, there is one thing that is universally true if you are a parent:
You need a break.
Parenting is the most insane job anyone could have. Everyone needs to escape from time to time.
If you are a parent and you are happy around your child(ren) every second, then you are not human; you are a robot, and your kids are at least part machine. Please email me your phone number so your robot kids can watch my crazy human ones.
The rest of us need to just get away for just a few minutes. Here are my top 10 unconventional and possibly unsafe ways to get 10 minutes alone while your kids are awake, healthy and likely screaming:
1. Daytime Baths
It’s 3 p.m. and you just want to look at Facebook in peace. I get it. The afternoon is the worst time of day, just behind dinnertime, bedtime and just-waking-up time. Throw the kids in a bath and tune out from a safe distance, like on the other side of the bathroom. You’ll still hear if one starts to drown.
2. Baths With No Water
This really works best if the kids can’t yet crawl out of the tub, because then you can just stick them in there with toys. It’s a well-confined space with no sharp edges. This is the only way any cleaning ever happens in my house.
3. Water With No Baths
A water table is a perfect 10-minute distraction for my 3-year-old and 11-month-old. I sit on a patio chair and rest my head on the super-uncomfortable iron table, they squeal while dropping (and subsequently ruining) wooden toys in the water.
4. Use Gates
Good fences make good neighbors. Good baby gates make good moms. Shut the kids into a corner with some bigger-than-choking-size toys and zero open electrical outlets then run away to the bathroom on the same floor and read a magazine. Again, close enough to hear disaster, far enough away to zone out.
Get a bucket of water and those sponge-brush things from a hardware store. Turn the kids loose on the deck. The baby WILL eat the brush, but a little indigestion is worth having a few minutes on a blanket nearby to stare at the clouds at think about nothing.
6. Make a Playroom
The smartest thing my husband and I ever did was make the spare bedroom into a playroom (credit: me). Why? Because it is has a door that closes.
7. Remote Sitters
My parents are out of town, so we hop on the computer and video chat often. I always leave the room to do just a few minutes of something: eat, drink, lie down. And I can do this knowing that mom and dad have an eye on the kids. I figure they will call my cell phone if something bad happens.
8. Hide and Seek
I count for a really, really long time.
Kids aren’t supposed to watch TV before they are 2, and I am fairly certain that unleashing a 3-year-old on YouTube isn’t exactly wise, BUT, if it keeps momma sane and the kids entertained, a few minutes can’t be THAT bad. Until your toddler winds up on a channel filled with nothing but footage of fatal car wrecks. Then things get awkward.
10. Take Your Chances
I mean, just do it. Put the dog in charge and close the bathroom door. By now, you know your children’s screams well enough to know if they are bleeding or just mad, right? Hide the knives and anything else that looks like a potential weapon and just disappear for a few minutes.