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10 Things to Do While the Kids Are Away

Woo hoo! It’s ‘me’ 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 your kids’ summer vacations to even think about yours, try these ten terrific ideas. You’ll be so busy enjoying yourself that you might forget how much you miss them.

1. Do new. Break out of your routine. Eat breakfast on the patio, take a hot new fitness class or visit an art gallery or wine tasting. No need to worry, 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 you’d hang with even if your kids weren’t in the same class or on the same sports team. Plan a girls’ or boys’ night out, host a cocktail party or poker night or do a double date on the town. No kids allowed!

3. Rekindle romance. Let the sparks fly. Enjoy a romantic dinner or picnic together on a warm evening or rekindle the romance with an evening in sans kids. (No need to lock the bedroom door.)

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 you don’t get side tracked. 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 whiney appeals 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 or go for a professional shave. Have your hair cut at a real salon, not the one where kids watch cartoons in barber chairs shaped like fire trucks. Lavish love on yourself.

7. Read up. This is the time to read a book 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, catch up on the latest fitness trends in a men’s health magazine, savour rich prose or linger over provocative ideas and perspectives.

8. Tune in. Listen to your favorite tunes or podcasts. Or dust off that old vinyl sitting in the garage! Records have made a huge comeback. Crank up the tunes and reminisce about the good ol’ days when you and your spouse were first dating. You won’t have to hear the kids groan when you sing along.

9. Eat it up. Enjoy favorite foods you forego when you’re cooking for kiddos. 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 carpool and soccer practice, this is the perfect time to give. Call a charity you’ve worked with before or find all kinds of local opportunities.

Heidi Smith Luedtke, Ph.D., is a personality psychologist and mom of two adventurous kids. She is the author of Detachment Parenting. Read her psychology lessons for real life at

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