Motherhood is relentless. Often there is no one else around who can take over for a bit to give you a break. I have compiled a list of things you can do to give yourself a bit of a break on the days when you are feeling ill, sleep deprived, down or just at the end of your rope. These are not all wholesome activities, they are just a list of ideas from one sleep deprived parent to another of ways you could cut corners on tough days.
1., An idea for a lazy trip out; go to McDonalds drive through and then a drive through carwash.
You don’t even have to get an actual meal you could just get ice creams and happy meal toys or something. This is an outing which does not require you to get the kids out of their car seats and then back into them or unleash them into a public space. Sometimes you just can’t face it can you? In the car wash we like to pretend that the car is being eaten by a giant squid. It is very exciting. This is a great lazy outing for a tired parent like yourself and you even get a clean car and possibly a burger out of it.
2., A bath which is not at bath time.
Make yourself a cup of tea and find yourself something to read like a mag or a good book or your phone. Run the kids a bath and find them some different stuff to play with like empty plastic bottles and cups, stuff that they don’t normally have in the bath to make it a bit more fun. Put them in the bath and let them enjoy a nice play in the water while you sit in there with them and half watch, half read your mag, drink your drink. For some reason my kids will play quite happily together in the bath with little or no involvement from me. I guess because they are kind of contained and have all the water to play with. Also, it is quite nice and relaxing for them to be in the nice warm water so it often cheers them up a bit.
3., A lying down activity; play doctors, be the patient.
This was my favourite game to play with my daughter when I was pregnant. I would lie down and she would bandage my hands or feet and listen to my tummy with her plastic stethoscope. She would tuck me up in bed and feed me pretend medicine and tell me not to move. Then she would do it all over again and again. Win!
4., A sitting down activity; blow bubbles.
Sometimes I forget about bubbles and then I find a pot on a shelf and remember how much my kids love chasing them and popping them and running around in them. They cost so little, they amuse for ages. Bubbles are awesome. You can sit down and rest while you blow them and your children expend lots of energy jumping around and popping them and shrieking.
5., Another lying down activity, all get into the big bed and read stories.
Again this involves lying down. This is a nice thing to do when it is cold and chucking it down outside.
6., Put the telly on.
Don’t feel guilty about using TV. A little telly is a nice bit of downtime for them and you. I really don’t know how I would survive without little telly breaks throughout the day. While they are watching TV you can snuggle up with them and either watch too or read a book/catch up on facebook/close your eyes for five minutes.
7., Ditch dinner. Make a sandwich.
You know that nutritious dinner you had planned which is going to take you an hour and a half to get done whilst fending off toddlers from climbing up your legs and stopping to break up fights in the lounge over the playmobil ambulance? Well, why don’t you just stick the ingredients in the freezer for another night when you have more energy/will to live and make them a sandwich? I did this the other night when I was very tired and so were the kids and I just couldn’t face cooking. We normally have a proper dinner at the table with fresh vegetables etc but I let them eat peanut butter and jam sandwiches and crisps in front of the telly. My daughter was so excited about it. It was like we were having a party.
8., While I’m at it, here’s some slobby (yet vaguely nutritious) dinner ideas.
Beans and cheese on toast. (apparently there’s more iron in a slice of this than there is in a steak)
‘Pizza Toast’ – Grill one side of bread then turn over and put pizza ingredients on the other side and grill. It’s like pizza but on toast and faster and can be made with stuff you may already have in the fridge.
Tinned tomato soup and cheese sandwiches to dip in.
Any kind of eggs with any kind of toast combo.
Jacket potatoes with tuna mayo/cream cheese/plain cheese/cheese and beans/leftover chilli etc
Cut up stuff (pitta, cucumber, carrot sticks, bread sticks, peppers) dipped in hummus, taramasalata, bean dip, salsa, sour cream dip etc.
A ready made pizza or lasagne with some fresh vegetables to alleviate the guilt of not cooking and using ready meals.
A fish finger and tomato ketchup sandwich.
Cereal. (tip gleaned from here)
Reheated something from another night like pasta bake or cottage pie or something.
9., Instead of going to soft play, buy a pack of balloons.
This will not cost you much money. You can take them home and blow them all up in the lounge. Your kids will have SO. MUCH. FUN. and you can have a lie down on the sofa, it doesn’t even hurt when they throw them at you. Everyone is winning.
10., Go to playgroup but don’t talk to anyone.
Have you ever made the effort to go to some kind of baby/toddler group and just felt like everyone else there already knows each other and does not really want to be your friend? Well, who cares? There are different toys here aren’t there? There might be the possibility of tea and biscuits and at least you have got out of the house, right? Just enjoy being there without feeling that you have to go and make friends with everyone in the room/hall/children’s centre. If you do want to make friends then just keep showing up week after week. Eventually you’ll meet someone who you really like and likes you back. Just be there for the chance to be somewhere other than home for the morning and if you make friends that’s a nice bonus. Sometimes, it’s just a break to be somewhere other than at home alone with your babies, even if it’s with people you don’t really know all that well yet.
11., Just generally cut yourself some slack.
Some days are going to be hard and it’s ok if you don’t fill every precious moment with amazing pinterest-worthy, educational activities. You can’t expect to maintain a standard of excellence in all things on a day when you’ve had only two hours sleep. Do your children feel loved? Isn’t this the main thing we are aiming for in our days with kids? That’s my standard of excellence I’m aiming for anyway and I’m trying to be honest with my kids and explain when I’m really, really tired and just can’t face playing princesses-who-live-in-the-wardrobe for the gazillioneth-millionth time and try and find a slightly lazier activity as a compromise instead.
So, there’s a few ideas on how to wing it a bit on the harder days. Please be kind to yourself. You are doing a brilliant and amazing job.