Mommy Quiet Time

because-I-said-so-blueSometimes I lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes of peace.

I don’t do anything, um, bathroom-y in there, although I confess that locking the door and taking a bubble bath in the middle of the day sounds pretty much like the height of luxury. I simply close the door, lock it (this is key) and try to savor a few moments of peace until my kids track me down and start banging on the door.

It would make more sense to hide somewhere with food and other reinforcements, but my pantry isn’t big enough for me to fit inside. I could hide in my closet, but that feels less legitimate. My mom locked herself in the bathroom when we were little, and I’m guessing your mom did it, too. It’s what we moms do.

It’s a mini Mommy timeout, you could say, and I know it’s time for one when I find myself audibly sighing and repeating phrases like “What on earth” and “For the love” and “Give me a minute, please!”

Unfortunately, locking myself in the bathroom isn’t always the solution. Sometimes I need a moment of quiet to accomplish a task that can’t be performed in the bathroom, such as emptying the dishwasher or vacuuming the living room. And sometimes I need more than a minute to make a phone call or take care of a work email.

As much as I’d love to devote every second of every day to entertaining my kids and fulfilling their every need — well, I actually wouldn’t love it. I think I’d go crazy and my kids would go crazy, too. We all need our space. But how do parents carve out solo time into days packed with children and carpools and cooking and more? Here are a few ideas:

1. Put together toddler busy-bags

If you have young children, this strategy is a lifesaver. Busy-bags are filled with toys, games, puzzles or crafts that a child can execute with minimal parental assistance. Keep them out of sight and reserved for those times when you really need to hold their attention. Look for busy-bag ideas on Pinterest and throw a busy-bag party with your friends to quickly beef up your stash.

2. Set up stations

If your kids are OK  to be unattended, try setting up stations around the house. Put each station in its own room or area so that children can be separated if necessary. For younger kids, you could have a book station, a Play-doh station, a block station or a listening station with books on CD or music. Older kids may like a reading station, a Lego station or a Wii station. Set a timer for 30 minutes and have your kids rotate through the stations while you get ‘er done.

3. Turn on the TV

Sometimes TV is a wonderful babysitter. There, I said it. Like many parents, I’m pretty uptight about what and how and when my children watch TV. But occasionally it is a major lifesaver. Like when my oldest was a toddler and would unlock the allegedly baby-proofed front door and dart into the street while I was taking a shower. My kids don’t watch TV often, so when I turn it on they are glued to the screen. Magical!

4. Put together a fort kit

I know not everyone is a fan of forts, but generally kids are quiet when they are trashing the house. This is especially true with toddlers. Put together a bin with box clips, duct tape, sheets, blankets, etc. and pull it out on special occasions. Invite the neighbor kids over while you’re at it. Of course you may want to lock yourself in the bathroom after you see the massive mess the kids have created. Go ahead, lock that door. You’re in good company.

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