Do you know how to relax while still being a MOM? Read these great tips on how you can sneak a little rest and relaxation into your day to day routine!
I knew being a parent wouldn’t be all kisses, snuggles, and sweet happy feelings, but I
remember that the thing that most surprised me about parenthood was the exhaustion.
Of course, right in the beginning of your baby’s life, the lack of sleep is unparalleled, but
even after your little one finally sleeps through the night at 5 weeks, 4 months, or in my
daughter’s case, a year and a half, your sleep schedule is at the mercy of your children,
and you rarely get enough of it.
If you’re a working parent, this is even more true. The whole “sleep when your baby/kids
sleep” thing can’t always happen. Sometimes, they’ve napped in daycare or with the
sitter and come home to you recharged and ready to go, while you’re just wiped out after
a long day at the office. Parents can’t take sick days either. When I struggled with
severe, all day, every day morning sickness for 8 months while pregnant with my son, I
couldn’t just stop being a parent. My daughter still needed me. I still had to work hard to
meet her physical and emotional needs—though I didn’t do a very good job of it during
On days when I find myself exhausted from lack of sleep with two kids full of boundless
energy, I’ve discovered ways to engage them while still getting the rest or relaxation that I
Here are some of my favorite, mommy needs to rest (or mommy’s nursing)
Read a book.
Whether you’re reading Moo, Baa, La La La to your nine month old or By the Shores of
Silver Lake to your four year old, you can usually sit or lie down while reading. Even little
ones (my son excluded) usually stop activity for the amount of time it takes for you to read
them a small book. When Bunny was one or two years old and I was too tired to run
around and play hideandseek or monster games, I’d get a stack of books and she and I
would sit in an arm chair reading. Now that she’s older, we lay in bed before naptime and
read Laura Ingalls Wilder books together.
I don’t know if you’re brave enough for this, but I give my daughter my makeup brushes
and makeup, lay down on the couch, and let her paint away. The great thing about
makeovers is that they usually require you to close your eyes. I look a little like a raccoon
when she’s done with me but she’s happy, she’s gotten Mommy time, and she’s found a
way to release some of her creative juices, and I’m more refreshed for the rest of the
day’s activities. If you’re not comfortable giving your child your real makeup, grab a
couple of compacts from the dollar store and keep them just for makeover time.
Hair salon works much like makeovers. This one may or may not be relaxing, depending
on how sensitive your head is and how gentle your child is. I have a tough head and a
daughter who has learned to treat it gently, so the two of us really enjoy playing hair
salon. Again, I lay down on the couch with my hair hanging over the arm, or sit in the
easy chair and Bunny grabs her box of hair supplies and a brush and clips, ties, and
headbands away. Sometimes, she even adds a complimentary head massage by
scratching my scalp with her little hands.
I only enjoy this activity because someone gave my daughter fake nail polish. The little
bottles were filled with a goopy, clearish, glittery substance that washes off. Bunny got
the experience of really painting my nails, and I didn’t have to worry about nail polish
getting everywhere. I’ve since allowed her to paint my nails with real polish, but that’s not
relaxing—not yet anyway.
I think “doctor” is a relaxing game that every parent has in their arsenal. What’s more fun
than lying down, pretending to have ailments, and letting your sweet child fix them all for
If your child plays the parent, and you play the kid, you can get them to play “naptime.”
Bunny used to love to put her babies to sleep and then she’d come up to me and say,
“Naptime! I had to lie down while she arranged blankets and pillows for me. Then she’d
turn off the light and make me go to sleep. The problem with “naptime” play is that the
naps only last about 30 seconds long.
Back massage writing practice
Lie down on your back and have your little learner practice writing letters on your back
with their forefinger or a stylus. You can either dictate to them what they should write, or
turn it into a guessing game. This could also work with drawing.
Back massage with matchbox cars
For Christmas, we gave my husband a shirt with a little car map on the back. Bunny
proceeded to play with her cars while he laid on his belly. She also got out her little Polly
Pocket dolls and played house on his back, so I’m thinking you could also draw a doll
house and get the same, relaxing effect.
Find Cloud pictures.
Lay down near a window or on a blanket in the back yard and find pictures in the clouds.
My daughter loves doing this in car rides. Sometimes, even if I can’t really see anything, I
make something up and she loves the stories she sees in her mind as we use our
imaginations to see turn puffs of clouds into pictures.
Narrate your kids’ play
If my daughter is playing with her dollies, trains, or dinosaurs in view of me while I’m
resting on the couch, I make them talk and say ridiculous things. She’ll often interact with
my voices, and occasionally just laugh at the crazy stuff I come up with. More often than
not, I end up getting scolded for making the dollies say something she doesn’t like and
we’ll have a good giggle over it. I’ve adapted this slightly to truthfully narrating what
Bunny is doing “for her little brother.” This happened a lot in the beginning when Baby
Bear got 80% of my attention because Bunny often felt neglected. When I said things
like, “Wow, look how your big sister is writing her letters!” Or “Did you see your sister
playing with her dollies? She’s building them a fantastic house,” Bunny felt important and
needed. This was also a way to include her newborn brother into our play and set the
stage for her to play with him for real later on.
You can’t really lie down with puzzles, but they’re a sitstill sort of thing. You can rest on
your side, or sit down while doing one with your child.
Bunny gives me what she calls “prints” to tell a story. “Mommy, tell me a story with a
mountain and a princess in it,” she’ll say. The mountain and the princess are the “prints”
for the story. Then I have to come up with a story with those details. This often happens
when we’re snuggling at bedtime. Other times, we’ll just tell stories without “prints” (I
don’t know where on earth she got that word, but I have a feeling it might have something
to do with my husband).
Set up a bed fort on your bed and lie down while your kids revel in it. This can be done
with pillows, or even just by putting your knees up to support the blankets. You can add a
flashlight or books to this scenario to give it extra excitement.
Usually, introducing something new and out of the ordinary will keep your kids attention
for a good bit of time because they’re exploring it for the first time. I rarely make forts for
the kids, but on occasion, when we do break out the kitchen chairs and the blankets, my
daughter is occupied for hours because it’s so novel. Sometimes, I can just lay on the
couch and nap while she plays, and other times I lay inside the fort to get the rest I’m
Create a “Yes” zone
My little guy isn’t really into imaginative play yet. He’s into EVERYTHING else. He’s
curious and precocious and pursues anything that can cause him harm—wires, choking
hazards, electronic devices. This stage of his life is exhausting. Nursing him isn’t even
relaxing at this point because it’s more like a wrestling match. Even when I lie down, he’ll
often hop off the bed or the couch while still latched on and start dancing. At least when
he’s still latched on I know he’s not getting into stuff he shouldn’t. Baby Bear hates
restraints and sticking him in a walker or the packnplay will result in screams so I usually
don’t. What I enjoy doing with him when I’m exhausted is closing he and I and usually his
sister in his room. I lie down on the floor and zone in and out of consciousness while he
plays in a perfectly safe, “yes” zone. He loves his Mama so much that this usually results
in my being the jungle gym, but I don’t mind. After 1020 minutes of this I’m generally
recharged enough to prepare dinner, do a load of dishes, or even play a rousing game of
chase with either of my kids.
Be a jungle gym
This may or may not be relaxing depending on your definition of the term, but I’ll often lay
down on my back and put the baby on top of me. He crawls all over and tries to escape
and I catch him every time. I’ll stick him on my knees and play seesaw with him. Also,
this is an opportunity to just let him climb the way he wants which may mean he gets
distracted and wants to play with his shape sorter, giving me the chance for a minute or
two of “sleep.”
Play “I Spy”
I spy is a game that requires only that one’s eyes are open. It is a perfect way to lie down
while engaging with your child’s creativity.
Nap with your kids
If you’re blessed to be able to be home with your kids while they nap, I know what you’re
thinking: “But that’s the only time I can get anything done!” It is true. Naptime is the holy
grail of parenthood. It is sacred and anything and everything else must revolve around
those precious hours. Why on earth would you actually sleep during naptime??? Well,
because you’ve got to rest sometime. You wake up hours before the kids to get things
done and get time to yourself, you drag around the house exhausted hours after their
bedtime trying to catch up. There are days when I know I need to nap and I intend to lie
down and do so but I just have to do that one more thing, which turns into two, three, four
more things. Or, I actually laid down to rest with a book or a TV show and I can’t get my
brain to shut up so I think of more things that have to be done and I end up getting up
after 20 minutes of no rest because my mind was going the whole time. Well, a while
back Bunny was having a hard time actually sleeping during naptime. I found that if I got
into bed with her, held her close, and started to regulate my breathing as if I were
sleeping, she would relax and actually fall asleep, buying me the time I needed to do what
can only be done when she’s asleep. I discovered something else, too. When I’m trying
to relax so she relaxes, I actually relax and more often than not I wake up 20 minutes
later and I’ve actually gotten the nap I needed! She’ll sleep for another hour or two, I’m
fully rested, and I can clean the bathroom, wash the diapers, or prep that casserole with
renewed vigor! This rarely happens anymore but when my son actually nurses himself to
sleep at naptime, I’ll take that time to rest beside him, often falling asleep myself. There
is nothing sweeter than falling a sleep with your precious child in your arms. It makes you
want to do nothing but sit there reveling in their tender innocence. There is nothing
better, more refreshing, or more relaxing in the world than napping with your kids when
they actually fall asleep.
Parenthood is tough. The hours are long, you don’t get days off, and you’re always on
call. The pay off is worth it, though. We would do anything for our kids and we will go to
great lengths to spend time with them and to make sure they’re fulfilled little human
beings. We can’t do that job effectively when we’re overtired but then again, who has
time to sleep? Finding time to rest when your little guys are full of energy is sometimes
the only key to solving that equation.
So, what are your tips and tricks for being a good, engaged parent when you’re
exhausted? Please share!
Jennifer W Date 6/24/2014
Great ideas! Mine isn't old enough for most of these yet, but I will definitely use them in a few months. I have napped along side him though. No shame in that!
Caitlin Date 6/25/2014
These are all great suggestions. Thank you!
Rebecca T Date 6/25/2014
I love these! My little one is only 5 months old, and sometimes on days when I'm more tired than usual (after a long night), I'll put baby on the floor on a blanket and I'll lie on the couch right above her. That way she can look up at me and I can rest a little. Sometimes I'll lie on the floor with her, but that's less restful because she'll grab my hair, cheeks, or the skin on my neck. Ouch! I'll definitely be trying the hair salon or doctor suggestions once she's older!
Kaity Marcos Date 6/26/2014
Thanks for sharing these great suggestions!!
Jennifer Date 6/27/2014
Back Massage practice writing is genius! I will so be using that one.
Erin B. Date 6/27/2014
Those are some great ideas! I have tried some of those but my daughter hasn't been quite ready yet (hair salon, massage, etc.) - maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part ;)
Aubrey k Date 6/27/2014
Love the car shirt idea! We already do this but the little guy would probably love a track to follow with his cars!
Maggie M. Date 6/28/2014
These are some fun ideas!
Amber Gray Date 6/28/2014
Definitely going to use the back massage writing idea!going to look for a car shirt asap haha great tips!
Erin Date 6/29/2014
Books and puzzles work for us. My son likes to pretend to cut my hair but that isn't relaxing. Thankfully he still naps at 2 1/2 and I get to lie down for a bit then.
c park Date 6/29/2014
love these ideas!! hahah..
will have to try some of these out.
Katherine Schofield Date 7/2/2014
I love the idea of the writing practice/back massage. What a great idea that serves dual purposes!!
Courtney Osmanson Date 7/4/2014
Thanks for the tips. I love napping with my lo.
missalyj Date 7/4/2014
I LOVE taking advantage of nap-time... by napping, too. Lol.
Laurie A Date 7/4/2014
I love both the reading and puzzle options!
Jamie Layton Date 7/4/2014
Love these ideas. They are sure to come in handy soon!
Jourdan Date 7/4/2014
Love these suggestions! With 3, it is really hard to relax sometimes! And since one is a newborn, I am, of course, really tired! My only saving graces right now are coffee and prayers! ;)
rosy moreno Date 7/5/2014
America S. Date 7/5/2014
Great suggestions! Books are always my favorite way to relax, but I like some of the other things you talked about! I might just have to squeeze in a little cloud picture time with my daughter soon!
Cindy Garcia Date 7/6/2014
These are some amazing tips (though my eyebrow is still raised at the napping hill they nap one. who really has the time? lol) Now you should do a blog post on how to sneak in relaxation time while doing wifely (yeah I made that one up I think) duties!
Angie Chandler Date 7/6/2014
Thank you for the great ideas! :o)
rosy moreno Date 7/7/2014
Every time my little one naps, I do a couple things, and as im ready to NAP with her, she wakes up! =(
Kim O Date 7/7/2014
These are great ideas. I'm bookmarking this for when my little one gets here.
Jessica O Date 7/9/2014
Great ideas! I will for sure be using a few! Still trying to find a balance with my 2 1/2 yr old and 1 month old!
Amy Date 7/17/2014
These are great ideas! My partner is a master of this, but I really need the tips :)