3. It should be something that doesn’t necessarily require both parents to help man the minions.
I know this seems contrary to my whole point- that the family as a singular entity sometimes needs to take a breather, but stay with me. I stay home with the kids. I homeschool the kids. This means I’m with the kids for every nanosecond of our existence. In this situation, when things get intense and Ken’s at work, I have to figure out if it’s a situation remedied by individual breathers (“go ride your bike around the cul-de-sac for 15 minutes” or “take this apple, climb a tree, and don’t come back down until the apple is eaten” or, in my case, “There is no ‘Mama’. There is only Zuul. And Zuul has locked herself in the bathroom for the next three minutes.”) or if it’s a case of a family breather.
If it’s the latter, I can either endure escalating insanity until bedtime, or take the kids on a breather myself. I feel confident in my short term single parenting skills at a park, or a zoo. I would not feel confident in my short term parenting skills at, say, Chuck E. Cheese (eye twitch. And, for the record, I HAVE taken four children to Chuck E. Cheese by myself. It was awful.)
4. It should be somewhere that will be restful to the soul, while engaging to the body.
I know it’s time to take a family breather when the majority of us are demonstrating the state of being that my beloved grandfather called ”full of piss and vinegar”. Everyone is cranky. And short tempered. And frazzled. The kids are overstimulated, the dad is overwhelmed, the mom is touched out. You’re punchy and buzzy. You are full of piss and vinegar. You don’t need loud noises and flashing lights. You need someplace that will calm your mind while simultaneously getting your body moving. Here in Connecticut, our family breather is the local nature center. It’s close, the trails are short and flat enough that even toddlers and enormous pregnant women can hike them, and it offers both a creek to play in and a meadow to run in. In no more than an hour, we can realize the need for a breather, load up, get there, hike/splash/run in the serenity of a mixed woods forest, and return home, more at peace with ourselves and with each other.
So what about you? Where is your family’s favorite place to take a group breather?
(all images taken from this past weekend’s family breather, which, thanks to the time change, was needed in a particularly desperate way)
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