April 14th, 2009

Escape Plan

Angie McCullagh

You know how it is when you’re home with the kids. And much of the time they’re delightful and funny and dancing hilariously and saying smart, amazing things.

And the rest of the time? They’re driving you crazy with their needs and whining and nostrils full of playdoh. There are stretches when they severely test your patience, to the point where you fear you may sprint out to the nearest major byway and flip up your thumb for a ride far, far away.

If this sounds familiar, then you, my friend, need an escape plan.

I don’t mean an elaborate scheme that allows you to disappear for hours on end, because we all know that’s often not realistic. The littles can’t be depended on to get dinner going or empty the dishwasher–things that simply must get done everyday.

But a short hiatus during which you can block out the unpleasantness of a screeching sibling argument or pretend there is no one plaintively calling, “Mommy?” 1,008 times per day. Something better than fingers in ears and your own voice yodeling, “La la la la la!”

I’ve come up with some quick and reasonable happy places to go when you just can’t take it anymore. My favorites are:

The shower. Assuming your children are old enough to entertain and not maim themselves for ten minutes, a closed (or at least partially closed) door and pelting water softens almost any high decibel sound.

Behind the vacuum. There are always rugs that need sprucing up, always carpet covered in granola bar crumbs and animal fur. And the vacuum overrides the most piercing of screams. An added bonus to this one is that you can keep an eye on the kids while swooshing the Hoover around and, if you’re children still won’t leave you alone, you can pretend the vacuum is a mostly friendly monster who wants to lick their feet. My two love this one.

In a closet. You can reorganize, squeeze in a short phone call or just rock back and forth with your head in your hands.

Plugged into an MP3 player. Something loud and angry or calm and soothing pumped right into your ears can do wonders in a short amount of time. Just tell your kids that mommy needs a little grown up music time, insert earbuds and try not to feel guilty. It’s just a song. Or fourteen.

In your car. Sometimes when your kids are riding their bikes around the driveway, shrieking and yelling, slipping into the front seat of your sedan or SUV and reveling in the blessed hush that two tons of metal provides is the best medicine. Just don’t be too tempted to actually pull away.

During those long days, you mutter the hackneyed, “This too shall pass” over and over. But you know that if it gets too bad in the interim, you have a few handy escapes ready and waiting.

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