Kid Activities That Double As Self-Care For You

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One of the realities of the small children phase of parenting is that time for taking care of yourself is limited. I can’t remember the last relaxing bath I’ve had and being kicked in the back by my kid who crawled in my bed, because of nightmares, is the closest I’m going to come to a massage for awhile. For many of us, our budgets have also been adjusted to include more diapers, snacks, and childcare fees and fewer trips to the nail salon, hairdresser, and spa. I decided to try some activities for my kids that could double as pampering for me*. Here are the results.

Painted Limbs: I gave each kid a paper plate with tempera paint in several colors and a paint brush. Then I laid out an old towel in the driveway, sat down, and assigned them each a leg. Rules were that they couldn’t go above mid-thigh, and they had to stick to their assigned leg unless they requested permission to switch. I tried it again with just my daughter, at her request, and she painted my arm.

Verdict: With both kids it felt nice, but I had to stay on high alert and couldn’t relax. With just my daughter it was better, but she made me hold my arm out for too long and now my upper back is in agony. Requires supplies and a bit of prep. Clean up involved tossing the plates, rinsing the brushes, and washing myself in the tub. Overall, not really worth the effort for me, but the kids thought it was a fun 5 minutes. 2/10, call the chiropractor.

Mommy Makeover: I gathered some of my old, but clean, makeup brushes and an assortment of makeup I don’t use (free samples, Ulta gifts w/ purchase, stuff I tried but didn’t like, etc.). I gave my daughter some basic instructions about what things were and let her do what she wanted. She used eyeliner to turn me into a cat.

Returned the favor.

Verdict: Great if I wanted to be a feline for Halloween, but only okay as a pampering method. Requires supplies that I happen to have, but may not be standard for everyone. Clean up was washing my face and the brushes. 4/10, book her now for your 2035 wedding.

Back Art: Harking back to sleepovers with my cousin, I asked my daughter to draw pictures with her fingernails on my back. I showed her what I meant by drawing a kitty and various shapes on her back first.

Verdict: My daughter drew a few shapes and then decided this was a very quid pro quo activity. My turn. 5/10, one minute of serenity.

Vehicular Back Massage: This one comes courtesy of my friend Rosanna. Find an old t-shirt and use a marker to draw roads on the back. Gather various toy vehicles and find a comfy spot to lay on the floor on your stomach. I went the less permanent route and used masking tape instead of markers and laid on the Nugget couch.

Monkey on my back.

Verdict: The kids took me lying down as an invitation to make me their personal jungle gym. Not quite the results I was looking for, but it was nice lying down in between taking small knees to the kidney. 6/10, found a sticker on my face after.

Nail Salon: This one was my daughter’s idea. She wanted to paint my toenails after I did hers. Handed her the box of kid nail polish and grabbed a few paper towels to put under my feet. Clean up will involve picking it off in the shower later because Piggy Paint doesn’t last very long. Wasn’t about to let her near my OPI.

Verdict: Super quick setup, almost no cleanup. Felt nice even though I HATE professional pedicures. Playing the long game because at some point she’ll get good at it and then I don’t have to do my own toes anymore. 7/10, free child labor.

Hair Salon: I collected a bunch of hair ties, bows, clips, and a small hair brush. Told my kids to style or play with my hair as they saw fit.

Verdict: Started out fantastic, full body tingles with the hair brushing. Quickly devolved into my daughter instructing me to put in the hair ties because she doesn’t know how to yet, folding my hair over my face, and then insisting it was my turn to style her hair instead. Another attempt resulted in tangles and stuck butterfly clips. I’m thinking this will get better as the kids get older. 8/10, will continue chasing that hair brushing tingle despite the tangles

Lotion Legs: Give your kids a bottle of your preferred lotion and let them go nuts. I started by putting a few squirts on my legs and the kids thought it was super fun to rub it in. They did my legs for awhile until it got too sticky, and then they moved on to my arms.

Will use something less sticky than Aveeno next time.

Verdict: Moisturized limbs and a sorta-massage. No prep, no cleanup. 10/10, induct me into Mensa

*I feel the need to say this for people who don’t know me – this is almost entirely a joke.

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Sarah Savage is originally from Crestview, Florida, but has called the Auburn/Opelika area home for the last 13 years. She graduated from Auburn in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. She and her husband, Jonathan, have a five year old daughter and a two year old son. Sarah works part time from home as a Communications Editor for Auburn University, but spends most of her time attempting to keep her kids from climbing—and subsequently falling off—furniture and providing an endless supply of snacks. She enjoys working out, reading, baking, listening to podcasts, and post dinner stroller walks with her family.