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Playtime Fatigue: How to (Secretly) Phone It In

Erin Zammett Ruddy

We’ve had a rough week in the Ruddy house. First, Nora was sick and home from school both Monday and Tuesday. Then Wednesday night (after a great 35th bday for me) we were hit with a hurricane-style windstorm that whistled and howled and scattered branches and soccer balls and lawn furniture (yes, we still have some out) all over our yard. It also knocked down a bunch of trees in our area and cut the power to our house. And both of the kids’ schools. Which meant they were both home with me yesterday, after I got almost no sleep the night before (between Alex coming in thinking the house was going to blow down and Nick and I jumping up to see if the house actually was blowing down, there was no more than 20-minute intervals of shut eye being had). Have I mentioned I also have a job? And deadlines? And a to-do list that stretches to several pages of a yellow legal pad? Yeah, it’s been an intense week. Fortunately, I have a new-found, occupy-the-kids trick that works like a charm when the circumstances (or the mom) are dire.

As I’ve mentioned, my kids love to play pretend. One of their favorite things to do is pretend to have sleepovers and to build forts out of blankets and sleeping bags and couch cushions (they got quite good at this during our two-week Sandy power outage). Nora is particularly into this with all her baby dolls/stuffed animals/nutcrackers and loves playing the mom and splitting her time between bossing her kids around and being nice/comforting them (ugh, I guess that’s me). She loves when I play the kid (always called “kid”) and she makes me lie down and covers me up and turns out the light. Sometimes I’m too busy multitasking (i.e. “playcleaning”) to really appreciate and get into this game but on a day like yesterday, there is nowhere I’d rather be than facedown on the playroom floor. (Side note: I don’t know how you moms who don’t get enough sleep do it—holy %#!&%! I am not equipped for that.) Nora reads me books and sings lullabies and kisses me and tucks me in and, the best part, forces me to close my eyes and won’t let me get up until I “c’mon, take a real nap, kid.” I actually dozed off a few lazy Sundays ago during a sleepover session (Nick was also in the house so I didn’t feel like a crazy person giving in to the pull of sleep).

Yesterday Alex and I were Nora’s kids and she made us lie on the playroom floor under an assortment of blankets. She got us stuffed animals to hold and she turned out the light and told us we had to stop talking. At one point, Alex whispered to me, “Isn’t Mom annoying sometimes?” And then he added—“I mean Nora mom, not you mom.” (Um, yes, Al, yes she is…but right now she’s my favorite). I mean what mom couldn’t use a quick power nap on the playroom floor? And to get credit for playing with your kids while doing it? Amazing! A win-win! So, has anyone else resorted to this? Any other phone-it-in tips for the days when things get dire? In related news: TGIF. Have a great weekend!

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