10 Things to Do While the Kids Are Away

 By Heidi Smith Luedtke  

Woo-hoo! It’s mommy time! The kids are away at camp or gone to grandma’s house and you’ve got time for yourself. If you’ve been too busy planning their summer vacation to think about yours, try these 10 terrific ideas. You’ll be so busy enjoying yourself, you might forget how much you miss your kids.

1. Do new. Break out of your routine. Eat breakfast on the patio, take a new fitness class, visit an art gallery or take part in a wine tasting. No need to worry that your fun will last longer than the kids’ attention spans or interfere with cello lessons or ballet.

2. Reconnect with your friends.
I mean the friends who knew and loved you before you had kids. Or more recent acquaintances whom you’d hang with even if your kids weren’t in the same class or on the same team. Plan girls’ night out, host a cocktail party or poker night, or do a double date on the town. No kids allowed!

3. Rekindle romance. Let sparks fly. Have a romantic picnic together or cook dinner in alluring lingerie. Reconnect with your sexy self. There’s no need to worry that the kids will bust in and catch you "wrestling" with daddy.

4. Conquer clutter. If most drawers in your kitchen are "junk drawers," or you routinely waste time finding essentials, stop the madness. Tackle one space at a time so that you don’t get sidetracked. Clear out stress-inducing clutter that distracts you from what really matters.

5. Crop, crop. If you scrapbook, plan a crop party. This is the perfect time to reminisce about the little darlings – you haven’t heard their whining in days. Not a scrap-booker? Online tools such as or make it easy to create family treasures from your digital photos.

6. Pamper yourself. Get a manicure or pedicure. Have your hair cut at a real salon, not the one where kids watch cartoons in barber chairs shaped like fire trucks. Schedule a makeover at the department store makeup counter. Lavish love on yourself.

7. Read up. This is the time to read a book that you’ve been dying to read but can’t enjoy when the kids are playing video games at full volume. Devour a juicy romance novel, savor rich prose, or linger over provocative ideas and perspectives.

8. Tune in. Listen to music you like, not Hannah Montana. (Unless you like Hannah Montana!) Buy a new CD or dig out your old favorites. You won’t have to hear the kids groan "Oh, mom" when you crank up the volume and sing along.

9. Eat it up. Enjoy the foods you forego when you’re cooking for your kids. No mac-n-cheese or chicken nuggets for you. Go for teriyaki grilled salmon or a salad with goat cheese, herbs and walnuts. Use a beautiful plate and sit down in the formal dining room. Make dining a feast for your senses.

10. Give back. If you’d like to do more community service but can’t squeeze it in between carpooling and soccer practice, this is the perfect time to give. Call a charity that you’ve worked with before or find all kinds of local opportunities at Volunteer Match.

Updated August 2012