Like my oldest child, I grew up with Sensory Processing Disorder. While I have adjusted and adapted with age, I still have an immediate spike in anxiety when I hear loud noises, overlapping noises or when I am “touched out.”
Of course, these are often the top things that also come along with being a mom. I think, for me, the “touched out” is the one that I have the most trouble with. Kids don’t ask for your attention with just their voice – they also use their hands, toes and sometimes heads.
Yeah, my youngest head-butts me from time to time for no apparent reason.
In our house, “MOMMY” comes along with someone pulling on my shirt, sticking their foot in my face or a 30lb preschooler standing directly on top of my bare feet.
Also – sidenote – WHY do they insist on standing directly on top of your feet? It is one of the most painful things that no one ever warned me about. It burrrrrrns.
Anyway, when I get to that place where I am just “touched out” and cannot handle one more set of tiny limbs entering my personal space, I need something that not only preoccupies my kiddos but also contains them. My original go-to was Target but if you have found a way to go without buying All the Things, please tell me, because my bank account can’t take it. Same goes for Costco, Sam’s Club and the Chick-Fil-A play space. While I still love all of these options – I needed something that was easy and free.
And thus, my Top 4 Free Go-Tos For Personal Mom Space were created:
1. The Pet Store
I call this “the air-conditioned zoo.” We will kill an hour walking around PetsMart or Petco looking at the fish, hamsters, ferrets, etc. The kids are contained in a cart, they get to see different animals and mama gets a little respite. It’s a win-win-win. The true test is if you can leave without tears or a goldfish.
Things to know / look out for: If it isn’t super busy, you can talk to the employees about the different animals and what they like to eat, etc.
2. Barnes and Noble
This is one of my favorites because I love books. There is a train table in the kids’ section that my boys love and there is always another kid or two to play with. They can easily play for 30 minutes while I get to sit without being sat on. Afterward, we look at all of the books and toys in the kid area.
Things to know / look out for: Once, my oldest almost walked away with Thomas from the train table. Gotta check those pockets.
3. The Mall Play Area
This is a good place for kiddos under 6 (though my almost-6-year-old still has fun climbing on everything). The play area has padded, climbable objects (think alligator or a bridge) and it’s fenced in by tall benches so the kids can’t escape and you have a place to sit while they go crazy.
Things to know / look out for: Kids are supposed to take off their shoes before entering. There are also small electronic games and rides that take coins “conveniently” placed near the entrance to the play area so be prepared.
4. Friend Hunt Adventure
Ok, you guys. This game was born out of sheer mom-desperation when my husband was out of town and I just couldn’t. Take. Any. More. Touching. They were all over me, all over each other – I was done. So I strapped them in the car and we went on a Friend Hunt.
What is a Friend Hunt Adventure? We drive around and see if we spot any of our friends.
That’s it. It’s something so absurd and silly to any adult but for some reason, my kids still enjoy it. Plus we made up a song “Going on a Friend Hunt!” (to the tune of “Going on a Bear Hunt”).
Things to know / look out for: I do plan my route in order to take them by the houses of friends and family so they get excited when they “spot a friend” (the house itself almost always suffices).
I really wanted this list to be 5 things. But, unfortunately, I don’t have a 5th go-to that doesn’t involve the potential to spend money on things I don’t need or the potential for my kids to have a tearful meltdown. I would love to add a 5th to my circuit – tell me your top go-to places or activities with your kids when you are feeling “touched out!”