We can tell by all your Facebook and Instagram posts that you love your kids. You want to spend time with them and see them succeed—you’re devoting your life to these very things! But let’s face it, you and your partner need some time alone, too. Here are five tips that will buy you some downtime and help you keep your parental groove without your kids even realize you’re taking care of yourself.
1. The water park. Cool down at the water park by going with other parents and you’ll see the impact immediately. Here’s how it works: one parent watches a few kids at a time while the others stay in the shade, reading, chatting and enjoying shaved ice with only minimal guilt.
Bonus: Visits to water parks have a second advantage. The little ones get so tuckered out by a long day in the sun that they want to take a nap when they get home if they don’t pass out in the car on the way back. If you don’t have a water park, substitute it with a playground, beach, or park.
Downtime hours: 2-3 (depending on number of kids and parents involved)
2. Sidewalk chalk. Every kid knows sidewalk chalk is where it’s at. Sidewalk chalking lets a child be creative and mess up something clean and blank all at once. Crayola makes 3-D chalk that is way cooler than the chalk we grew up with. Let your child’s creativity flow and let them scribble on the sidewalk or your driveway. Since the kids are busy destroying the walkways and not the inside of your house (from where you’ll be watching as needed), you can mark it up as a win-win.
Bonus: Have them water down the sidewalk afterward so they have a blank canvas for next time.
Downtime hours: 1-2
3. TV sports. Introduce them to a new sport and let them watch it on TV. Few things give many kids as many hours of fun as a sport, and introducing your kids to a wide variety of them simply can’t hurt. Exposing them to soccer, baseball, gymnastics, basketball, lacrosse, to name a few, encourages children to have fun, participate in a challenging program, and learn a great deal about patience, hard work, teamwork, personal abilities, and different cultures. There is also a myriad of great sports or sport shows done by kids in most areas.
Downtime hours: 1-3 (depending on sport and if you’re lucky enough to get overtime).
4. Online games. We’re serious here. Not only are games a good way to keep your kids entertained, they are a great way to enhance hand-eye coordination, fine motor, social and real world skills. One of my favorites is Animal Jam, an online educational game where kids choose an animal avatar to play, and have the ability to play and socialize with other kids from all over the world in without even realizing it. They get to work on their teamwork, learn about their role in conserving the planet, and upgrade their character along the way, develop teamwork, and learn about their role in conserving the planet.
Bonus: National Geographic and Animal Jam just released a companion guide book that shares the usual hidden secrets and tips as well as teaches them about real life animals and the environments in which they live. Keeping their brains from mushification is as important as keeping them well entertained.
Downtime hours: Ongoing
5. Shared activities: Involve your kids in activities you like to do and make it fun. For example, if you like to ride bikes, think about purchasing a bike trailer for your kids to sit in, or if you enjoy yoga, look into classes that incorporate kids as well. Including your kids in hobbies that you enjoy doing will not only make you happy, but will help strengthen your relationship with your children.
Bonus: One day they might tow you around in a bike.
Downtime hours: 1 hour + (depending on activity)
That’s our quick list. If you have any other ways that you have found useful, please let us know in the comments below!
* Post Contributed and Sponsored by Animal Jam