I see it allllllllllllllllllll the time.
The moms that come in to school with their hair in a rough bun, clothes wrinkled, and circles under their eyes. I’m not judging them – I totally get it, and I’m impressed they’re here at all. In today’s ultra-parenting age, so many moms don’t get time to themselves, like, ever. In every home I visit with small kids, there’s this overwhelming feeling that if their parent or sitter isn’t constantly with them, the kids will destroy the home or themselves.
Moms, that’s simply not true.
Your kids are kids. Yes, they need your support. Yes, they want your attention. But no, they will not perish or be permanently damaged if you let them play in their room unattended for an hour or so.
(Note: I’m not advising parents to leave children under the age of two unattended, unless they’re napping. That’s just stupid. But four, five, or six year olds? They’ll survive.)
As I was finally reading through my April edition of Parents, I saw a quote from divinesecretsofdomesticdivas.com:
“In motherhood there’s so much love, joy, and laughter… However, there’s no place in my home that’s exclusively mine, and really there’s no place I can hide.”
Although I completely understand where this mom is coming from, I think it’s kind of crazy that so many parents feel that way. When did having kids mean giving up yourself completely? As a nanny, I often see moms who are just absolutely desperate for some time to themselves. I’ve been paid before to simply keep the kids away from mom while she took a nap.
As you all know, I’m not a parent, so I haven’t been around and responsible for a child 24/7. I’m going to give my advice anyway, though, because I have a blog and I can.
Instill in your kids the idea of quiet time. It can and will be difficult, but it teaches them a valuable lesson about patience and self-control and provides mom with some time to herself, even if it’s just a bath without kiddos popping in and out. Start with just fifteen minutes, around four in the afternoon. Say “it’s quiet time now, so until four fifteen, you need to play quietly in your room.” If you’ve done away with nap-time, this might be a difficult concept for older ones to grasp, but it will become a valued part of their day over time.
On the first day, the kids will fight. They won’t stay in their room. They won’t play by themselves. Try to suppress the urge to turn on the TV; just keep sending them back to their rooms, Super Nanny style. Make sure they understand it is not a punishment, but it is something they have to do. Encourage elementary school age children to play with toys or read a book, while older children should use this time for homework or resting.
After a successful few days of the fifteen minute quiet time, move it up to thirty. Eventually, with enough patience, your kids will leave you alone for an hour every afternoon. They will learn to value the time when the house is quiet, and you will be able to treat yourself to what you want to do, or catch up on something important. Embrace the quiet, don’t let it bother you!
If your kids don’t wear wristwatches or have non-tablet clocks in their room, invest in some cheap digital clocks. Show little ones what 4:00 and 5:00 look like on the clock, and teach them to recognize when it is time for quiet time and when they can play outside their room again. This technique also works for little ones who get up too early – set a time, like 7:15, and make sure they know what that looks like on the digital clock. If they come out before then, send them back until the clock reads 7:15.
All of this takes time, and planning, but it will be worth it in the end. You’ll end up with an hour to yourself, and the kids will learn the importance of being quiet.
If you’ve tried this technique, let me know! I’d love to hear about how it worked or didn’t; I’m always on the lookout for new tips about quiet time in the home. If you want to chat with me more about how to make this work in your home, let me know! I’m happy to chat.