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The Three Most Dreaded Words Any Mother Can Hear

Photograph by Twenty20

Weekends with kids are grueling. There, I said it aloud.

The weekends with kids, little kids I mean, can be downright grueling. I tell you this because the Groundhog Day-ness of weekends with kids came a surprise to me. To be perfectly honest, I found the lack of a weekend, the lack of a break to be exact, hard to wrap my head around when I first became a mom. Every day was just like the next. And every day was hard.

See, I thought the grind of having infants at home was going to be one of the hardest things I’d ever endure. And for me, it was. But when my kids got to be toddlers and now bigger little kids, something even more difficult developed. My kids wanted me to play with them all the damned time.

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Don’t get me wrong. I love a game of Go Fish or Candy Land as much as the next gal. I love spending time with my kids and seeing their minds develop as they navigate play. But to be perfectly honest, sometimes I don’t actually want to play with anybody, much less a Jenga loving kid.

So in order to save me from losing my game-loving mind, and in order to keep my kids from feeling like I don’t actually want to be with them, I’ve developed some strategies for what to do when I heard those dreaded words: Play. With. Me.

Plan Activities For The Weekend.

At the risk of feeling over-scheduled on the weekend, I like to have some plans for the weekend so we don’t have endless hours of unstructured time, which might have my kids bored and needing to be entertained. I leave some downtime, but make plans for the rest of the weekend so I’m not on the hook for a 10th round of Yahtzee!

Play With The Kids For Short, Concentrated Amounts Of Time.

When I do play with my kids, I notice they don’t actually need hours and hours of my attention. So I try to make sure I play with them for at least 15-20 minutes of time in which I’m not distracted, looking on my phone, or doing other things. They feel like they fueled up on spending time with me and I’m not left feeling depleted and bored.

If your kids have two parents living at home, there’s no reason why both parents have to be on duty all weekend.

Two Kids Are Better Than One.

It may seem like a house full of kids on the weekend is a recipe for you being tapped out, but it’s often the thing that will save any exhausted parent. Once kids are post-toddler age, they’re often easier in groups. They have each other and they don’t actually want Mom and Dad helicoptering around.

Make Quiet Time Mandatory For Everyone.

If you need quiet time, chances are your kids do as well. In my house, we have each of our kids take a 30-minute quiet break in their rooms on the weekend. This isn’t TV time or iPad time. It’s quiet time. They can play, read, sleep, or daydream. They just can’t do it with me. I’m having quiet time in my room, too.

Tag Out With The Hubs.

If your kids have two parents living at home, there’s no reason why both parents have to be on duty all weekend. In our house, my husband can barely function if he doesn’t sleep in and I’m fine getting up with the kids. So I take the mornings and then tag him out when he wakes up. I’m not pissed off or resentful and he gets what he needs. And both of us squeeze in a few things for ourselves so when we are with the kids, we enjoy it.

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Don’t Make The Weekend and School Break All About The Kids.

There’s nothing wrong with back-up by way of a babysitter or trusted family member who can watch the kids. And there’s nothing wrong with doing things you like to do on the weekend, school break, or family vacation. The point is, when the kids aren’t in school life doesn’t have to be all about them all the time. Mom and Dad are allowed to have some fun, too.

Kids Play With Kids.

Now that my kids are no longer toddlers, they don’t always need my help or attention. So sometimes I make a "kids play with kids" rule, especially when they have a play date. I’m happy to help them find a game or project, but that doesn’t mean I have to do it with them. I already went to elementary school. I don’t necessarily want to go back.

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