Now that Labor Day has come and gone, most kids have started school again and parents are breathing a collective sigh of relief that some structure and normalcy is about to return to their households. If your family is anything like mine, we careened into my children’s first day and were running around frazzled that morning when an unexpected thunderstorm hit and left us scrambling to find rain-boots, umbrellas and coats. I’ve decided that my goal is just to get through the first week or two, and then I’m going to pick a day in the near future to play hooky, relax and get in the right head-space for the rest for the final months of 2019.

If you’re able to swing it, I recommend that all parents take a day off shortly after summer break ends. Everybody needs time to rest and recuperate from the general chaos of life with kids, and you know you deserve it. If you need more convincing, note the feeling you get in your stomach when you think about the upcoming Halloween and holiday seasons. It’s called “dread mixed with pre‐exhaustion,” so again, it’s OK to grab some downtime now while you can.

Here’s what I’m going to do on my hooky day, in case you want to pick and choose some ideas to incorporate into your own day off.

Take a nap. In general, I’m not a nap person, and it’s really hard for me to fall asleep during the day, even though I often feel sluggish in the afternoon after lunch. But I recently realized that it’s all about the setting. I need to go in our guest room (where it’s much easier to get the room completely dark, compared to our master bedroom) and bring along my earbuds in order to attempt to drift off to my thunderstorm/rain app. I’ll make sure the dog’s been out, the phones are silenced, and that there’s a note on our front door to not ring the bell for deliveries. I’ll set double (or triple) alarms so that I won’t fail to rest because I’m worried I’ll oversleep. I’ll even dig out an old eye mask I kept from an international flight in case the room isn’t dark enough. And I WILL be in my pajamas to ensure I’m totally comfortable.

Get Zen. I’ve noticed a vicious cycle I fall victim to when life gets busy and hectic: I stop doing the very things that most help me destress: working out, meditating, reading for enjoyment, scheduling in “me time” and going to acupuncture sessions. NOT doing these things then leads me to become even more high‐strung and on edge. You might have a different list of things that immediately help you relax. Whatever those activities are, make sure they’re part of your day off. And then preemptively schedule them into the weeks and months ahead — self‐care benefits everyone in your family because when you’re not run down or overwhelmed about everything that’s on your plate, you’ll be better able to truly enjoy time with your kids and be present for your family.

Laugh. (Or cry. Or scream. Or cheer.) I don’t know which movie I’m going to pick on my hooky day, but I know that I’ll definitely be watching a movie. I see it as the perfect way to wrap up my R&R time before the kids get home from school. I may be in the mood for parent humor, like Bad Moms or Blockers, or singing my heart out to Bohemian Rhapsody or A Star is Born, or I might just want to go all‐in on an action flick like John Wick or Avengers: Endgame. Either way, it’ll make for some fun escapism before the real world comes knocking again.

Speaking of reality, when your day off draws to a close, I recommend the last thing you do is … block off time for another one after the holidays!

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