Life with kids is pretty relentless at times, and as someone who has no family living nearby (read: no free babysitters) I often need a trick or two to buy me some time. Deadlines looming, meals to cook, phone calls to make, whatever…we all need time and space.
Here are 10 ways to buy yourself time with kids in order to get shit done.
Just quietly, you may not even want to get shit done, you may like to RELAX. How very novel, right???
Here’s how I make it happen.
IKEA has a free creche for one hour. You do not need to buy anything, and the only prerequisite is that your kid is fully toilet trained.
You could stroll the aisles buying tea light candles that you will ever truly require, or you can sit in the cafe and read a book on the affordably priced lounge suites. I, personally, utilise the free WIFI and work for one hour uninterrupted by squalling, whinging children. Creche is secure and fun and 50 cent soft serve is al the incentive my kids need.
2. GYM CRECHE
I admit that joining a gym solely for creche use is a little silly and expensive, however, if you are an avid or aspiring exerciser but you have kid limpits it’s virtually impossible to train as they dangle all over you. I like an hour of peace to focus on myself, listen to my tunes and just sweat out the frustrations.
3. BABYSIT SWAP
Asking a friend to watch your kids for an hour is totes awks because you’re asking for a favour….and that’s hard for some people (ie ME). However, a straight swap is not a favour. It’s a transaction. An hour each, or even two if you want to really get down to some you time is the perfect solution.
4. A WHOLE ROLL OF DRAWING PAPER (IKEA $5) & NEW TEXTAS/PENCILS/CRAYONS
There is something very appealing about an almost endless ream of paper. My kids love to paint on it, but those dirt bags cannot be unsupervised for painting. Even paint pens, but I will let them paint with water colours because I’ve never had to try to get that out of their hair. Crayons and texts are also good, but mine never put the lids back on and they dry out and drive me nuts.
So, yeah, crayons.
5. MONSTER CHALK & CARTE BLANCHE ON THE FENCE/EXTERIOR WALL/FOOTPATH
There are a few brands of monster chalk but the Crayola Box of a million colours is usually found at Woolies for between $5 and $8 dollars. I’ve bought one everywhere I travel as the kids love it. It washes off with the hose so let them go for gold and colour in your entire fence or wall.
If my kids are colouring out the front I always stay with them, out the back is fenced, but I don’t like little ones out the front on their own. Just sayin’.
6. A NEW MOVIE AND A LARGE BOWL OF POPCORN EACH
TV nanny is an awesome way to buy time. Some would argue that it’s not great parenting but this post is not about that, it’s about ways to buy time so you can get shit done. Even if your kids won’t watch an entire movie, they’ll generally sit until the popcorn is gone. You can buy anywhere between half and hour to an hour and a half.
7. INITIATE PLAY THEN WALK AWAY
Start an engaging game or activity and spend 5 minutes playing with them, and then leave them to it. They will possibly try to get you to keep playing but a gentle explanation that you have some stuff to do and then you’ll come back will work.
If you’re lucky they’ll forget you promised that, but even though they can’t remember where they left their shoes, they remember a promise made two months ago.
8. ‘PAINTING WITH WATER’ BOOKS
These are a life hack. They are like a colouring in book but the images are dabbed with spots of water colour paint and as they paint over the image with water it turns out like a painting. Admittedly, these are for smaller children, but frankly none of them can be trusted with paints so ride it as long as you can.
My guys will do this for half an hour easily.
9. COLOURED WATER, BIG PAINTBRUSHES AND A FENCE
A friend taught me this one and it’s killer. Fill up a bucket with water and add food colouring. Give them some big house painting paint brushes and tell them to go and paint the fence. They fall for it every time, but it is best in warmer months because they invariably end up having some kind of water fight.
10. CUBBY HOUSE TEAPARTY
The key to this is the build up. Talk about it, plan it, set up the cubby, make the tea party, get the favourite toys in position, and leave them to it.
At worst, they’ll eat a snack in the dark and you get 15 minutes. At best, they’ll get into the magic of it, play for hours and fall asleep in there until the next day.
We can but dream.
11. GO FOR A DRIVE
If you are fortunate enough to have kids that crash out in the car, go for a drive til they’re asleep, and then park up and read your book – or hot spot off your phone if you need to work on your computer online.
If they don’t sleep, take audio books for them to listen to and you just take a drive and clear your head.
12. iPAD WITH EDUCATIONAL TOYS ON IT
Never met a kid that didn’t love an iPad. Could be problematic if you have one iPad and multiple stinkers, but I’ll leave you to sort that one out.
13. OBSTACLE COURSE OR TREASURE HUNT
I make an obstacle course in my garden, but a treasure hunt is also a great idea. I place a course of things to jump, and spot to do a roll, and tree to run around, an area to hop through and we run through it a few times before I leave them to it.
A treasure hunt, for those who cannot remember, is writing a ‘garden shopping list’ and they have to find the goods and put them in their bag. It’s just a bunch of junk that you’ll find under the couch in a week but it keeps them quiet.