What to Say When You Need a Break

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Even with kids transitioning into hybrid school schedules, parents are feeling the weight of being constantly “on” with their children at home. If you have mom-guilt when it comes to saying “no” to playtime and “yes” to just taking a break or to getting something else done, Motherly suggests using these phrases:

“I will be cleaning the kitchen. You’re welcome to join me.”
The next time you need to get something done and your child is clinging to you, offer an invitation instead of a dismissal. The beauty of this phrase is that it gives your child a choice—they can either be with you and help with what you are doing, or they can go play independently.

“I’m not available to play dinosaurs right now. Would you like to read with me?”
While sometimes we simply need to get something done, other times we just honestly do not want to play whatever our child is asking us to. And that is okay. Offer one or two activities that you would genuinely enjoy doing with your child and give them the choice of whether to join you.

“I’m going to read for 20 minutes and then I will be able to play Legos with you.”
Let your child see your interests too. You don’t have to cram your own life and hobbies into nap time and after bed. It’s okay, and even valuable, to let them see that you are a whole person with your interests. Tell them that you want to read or garden or workout for 20 minutes.

“I don’t want to play right now, but I would love to sit and watch you.”
Be honest with your child. It’s okay if you want to be with them, but don’t feel like actively playing. This can be an excellent way to observe how your child plays when left to their own devices.

“I would love to play for a few minutes. Then I will need to fold the laundry.”
Sometimes children need help getting started. It often works well to play with them for 10 or 15 minutes and then back away to do something else nearby. This allows your child to play independently while also saving your sanity.

“Sure, I’ll play! You choose the game today, and I’ll choose tomorrow.”
While we naturally do not share all of our young children’s interests, it is important for children to get to choose what we do together some of the time. Create a system where your child chooses sometimes, and you choose other times.

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