This post is in special honor of all you out there who are single-handedly parenting your children and trying to keep sane. In particular, I’d like to give a shout-out to Emily C. who commented on my last post and mentioned her husband is on a year-long deployment. Yikes.
Imagine this: It’s meal-making time. You have hot stuff on the stove top. Your oven just beeped telling you it is 350 degrees. You have a sharp knife in your hand. You have already put in a full day of work (either at home or out of the house). You look at the clock and quickly calculate that you have at least 3 more hours in your “work day” (5 minutes of meal prep, 25 minutes of meal cook time, 30 minutes for kids to eat, 1 hour of bath & bed-time routine, 30 minutes of kitchen clean-up, 15 minutes of house clean-up, 15 minutes of of re-tucking kids into bed), and you are already pretty tired.
Now let’s make it interesting…. we’ll add five Lego pieces laying in front of the refrigerator, a Bitty Baby sitting in the very exact middle of the kitchen floor being “fed” by your daughter, and your toddler son sprawled on his belly repeatedly saying “mom mom mom momomomomomomomomomom!!!”
Yeah……. you’re going to lose it.
But you don’t have to! I got a little trick for you that saved MANY meal-making times during my husband’s 8-month deployment. And the best part… all you need is some painter’s tape!!! Say what?!
It’s BLUE LINE TIME:
1. Take a look at your kitchen layout and find a good place where you can make a boundary line. Generally, the entry way(s) will work best.
2. Place a long piece of tape across the floor at the boundary. We have an island, so I have a Blue Line on each side of the island… make as many lines as necessary.
3. Wrangle your kids and tell them to put their toes on the line (outside of the kitchen) while you stand on the opposite side of the line (in the kitchen) and tell them:
“This is the Blue Line. When I say “BLUE LINE TIME” you need to get on your side of the line and I will be on my side of the line. You will need to take all of your toys with you. Please do not leave them on the floor in the kitchen where I can trip on them. It’s not safe for you (or your toys) to be on my side of the line until I tell you BLUE LINE TIME is over. Let’s practice.”
FYI… My kids (ages 5, 4, and 2 at the time) really liked to race across the line and see who could get out the fastest. My kids also stood at the very very edge of the line and would lean over into the space above the line just to see what I would do. Me silently staring back at them like I was confused and had no idea what they were doing usually got them to smile and walk away.
Of course, always make sure you can still keep an eye on your kiddos and that they are safe… use your best judgement.
4. You now have personal space while you are cooking and will be able to move freely around your kitchen.
5. If you find yourself calling “BLUE LINE TIME” during non-meal-prep times and sitting on the floor behind your kitchen island just to get a moment of personal space… do not be ashamed. I did that a time or two… or twenty.
We still use Blue Line Time even though deployment is over… it really works.