As a general rule of thumb parents love their children (step-parents included, of course). Their shining faces, sparkling eyes, soft, loving, anaconda-like cuddles at bedtime; and yet, despite all that well-meaning love, there are moments when you just need a Mental Health Day.
How, though? When all that well-meaning love is pouring out of them every fifteen minutes in the form of love notes, 10-second pictures, cuddles, peanut butter sandwiches and breakfast gherkins. Could you really be so selfish as to take a day off from the love-fest? In a word, yes! And just between you and me and the breakfast gherkins, I promise not to judge you.
I would like you to take a moment please, to read through some of these carefully compiled life-saving/altering tips and commit a few to memory. After all, it could save their lives one day …
- Tree huts seem to occupy kids for hours on end, and while not every home is tree-hut-capable, can I suggest a small pup tent in the backyard? We have a small canvas tent with a light aluminium frame which doesn’t need knocking into the ground. True, it often flies off with the wind, but so did Dorothy, and look at the fun she had.
- A pet! Pets are great! Until they tire of them. Promise them a pony if they spend one day a week with their pet and only their pet for the next ten years. Watch the joy light up their faces! Do give them a few weeks to test your boundaries however. May I suggest a progress chart? Ten interruptions and the deal is off. Sure, it puts a mild damper on the game; or, you could think of it as two games in one! Bargain.
- Clowns. Clowns are good. But a little expensive. I’m proposing your darling ones build their own circus. They have to make their own costumes, choreograph performances, practice them, train the wild animals (or pretend ones), teach them new tricks (the animals, not the kids, although … ). Get the neighbour’s kids involved, or those snooty kids down the road that never seem to get dirty. Make up a list of circus jobs that need to be accomplished on the day, and make it a long one. Of course for the first few weeks they’ll have a million questions for you, such as, “mommy, where do you keep your hair curlers?” But you’ll soon find them circus-capable in no time. Heck, they might even make a career out of it! How proud would you be?
- Hide and seek. It’s brilliant. My mother loves to tell a story from her childhood, whereby her father played hide and seek in the orchard with her and her two brothers. He dressed himself in something green, climbed a tree, and read a book for the entire afternoon. Genius! I thought I’d try something similar one day. Climbed into the back of the car, ducked down on the seat, and had myself a well-deserved nap. To this day I won’t reveal my awesome hiding spot. I taunt her routinely with, “you’ll never find me!” True, sometimes she cries, but this gives me the opportunity to teach her not to give up. Only losers give up, baby. Winners just try harder!
- If worse comes to worse, put a bell on them. When you hear it, run. But don’t run too far, lest you enjoy the wind in your hair and the feeling of your life opening up wide with untamed possibilities. This is why the dog runs away. You’re a parent. You have a dinner to plan and a beautiful child to tuck into bed at night.
Published in: Family