Take Five: Why It's Okay to Take an Occasional Break from Your Children

Laura Stallard Petza
January 13, 2010

Parenthood. There is no richer, no more rewarding, vocation, and yet, as any honest parent can attest, raising children can be filled with hours of tedium and exhaustion. For as lovable and amazing and life-affirming as kids can be, they can also be equally demanding and noisy and inflexible, leaving nearly every parent -- whether or not he or she is willing to admit it -- occasionally in need of a little break. And in spite of what many moms and dads have been led, perhaps inadvertently, by parenting magazines or in-laws to believe, there is no shame in needing this little break; in fact, taking five (or ten or 120) can be exactly what is required to refresh severely depleted parenting reserves. Feeling wiped-out?  Uninspired? Even resentful? Then why not step away from the kids for a moment and treat yourself to a much-needed respite. Following (if you're still reading and haven't flown out the door already) are five suggestions for easy, everyday escapes:

Take a hike (or just a walk around the block). Some exercise and a change of scenery can go a long way toward recharging your batteries. And while, yes, it's nice to take a walk with the kids, it's also nice, from time to time, to take a walk without having to stop for every mailbox and manhole.

Call in the reinforcements. Grandparents love hanging out with their grandkids. If you've got parents and/or in-laws (or aunts, uncles or family friends) nearby, arrange for them to spend a little time with your little ones. The grandparents and grandkids will have a blast catching up and playing, and you'll get a chance to take the aforementioned walk or simply (and sadly) to tackle that mountain of laundry.

Make a date. For your kid. Playdates, even when they're at your house, can be distracting and wonderful and can give you a few minutes to do something other than push cars around the dining room table. Plus, of course, your kid gets to hang with a peer, while you get to hang with your long, lost self.

Get up earlier. Even just a few quiet minutes with coffee and the paper can set the stage for a nice, relaxed day. If your kids get up long, long, long before sunrise, however, you may prefer to . . . .

Go to bed later. The kids are in bed, the house is peaceful, so why not take advantage of this demand-less hour to do something that you've been wanting to do?

Whatever you do, no matter how you do it, allow yourself a little time without the kids. They'll be okay without you, because, of course, you'll leave them in good hands, and you, for the short time that you're away from them, will be reminded of how much fun you are, of all the qualities that make you such a terrific, lovable parent. 


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