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A Stressed Mom’s Guide to Entertaining the Kids

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My best girlfriend, Ann, is a stay-at-home mama. Overprepared is an understatement to describe her; she’s more over the top. Anytime we go anywhere, even on a fifteen-minute drive, she has packed every kind of snack: a carb, a protein, a fruit, a veggie. She has packed every supply imaginable: things that make noise, things that are snuggly. I basically show up with the kids.

Ann has been remarking recently about how depleted she is, feeling tired, uninspired, exhausted. I can relate. Being a working mom, I am tired by the time I’m on with the kids. But I’m also excited. I’ve waited all day to be with them. What can you do when your exhaustion wears on your inspiration to entertain the kids? They’re boinging like runner balls in their excitement to see you. How can you reciprocate and give them a great experience when you’re depleted?

1. Take pressure off to be perfect.
You don’t have to take the kids to the museum every day, or to the tide pools because it’s low tide and sunny. Moms often think that catering more to kids, and doing more activities, will have a bigger payoff. But you don’t have to overextend and be on all the time. It’s depleting.

2. Do kid-friendly activities that restore YOU.
My default is to do with my kids what I loved as a child, so that our playing feeds my soul, too. Go to the library and get children’s books you enjoy. Rent your favorite children’s movie when it’s raining, and bake your favorite cookies together.

3. Commit to your enjoyment.
It’s important to remember your kids just want to spend time with you. If you need to be tapped in, turned on, and having fun, be ruthless in your commitment to enjoy what you’re doing. On depleted days, make play dates with your children’s friends you love to be around. My daughter’s best friend is hysterical to be around. Just watching the two of them together restores me.

4. Add the perfect dose of adult activity in with the kids.
On a particularly exhausted, sunny afternoon, my son and I built a gigantic fort in back yard. But we made it an event. I put on my bathing suit, and poured a Kombucha into a wine glass. Then I got inside the fort while he finished it. I read cookbooks and planned meals. While I relaxed in the fort, my son was running around with his light saber. It was Heaven to me.

5. Kids will have an inspired time when YOU are inspired.
When you are turned on and enlivened, your kids are totally having a ball. When you have small people depending on you to have a great day, find ways to rejuvenate WITH them, rather than planning activities explicitly for them. They will love you for being present with them. And you can return to their favorites when you are re-energized.

Originally published on Green Sherpa


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