Another summer of Mom Camp. That’s eight long weeks of full-time program director, lunch lady, art teacher, sport coach, chauffeur and chief negotiator.

As any parent can attest – stay-a-home or otherwise – parenting is freaking hard work, especially when there is no break in sight, no grandma in the city to drop by and when the babysitting budget has run dry.

But I’ve found the secret to survive the summer: swap your kid.

These playdates – sometimes with your child’s bestie and sometimes a forced friendship because your bestie needs a break – are a sanity-saver. And this is why it works:

  • It doesn’t have to be complicated. Offer to take your friend’s child for a morning (she takes yours on another). Throw in lunch.
  • For kids who aren’t in childcare, it’s a great way to get them used to the dreaded drop off and spending time with other kids and adults in a new environment.
  • Another opportunity for kids to practice sharing their space and toys.
  • Kids usually entertain themselves better with their bud in TOw.
  • For the kid-less parent, three or four glorious uninterrupted hours alone is priceless.

So as I embark on this final stretch of stay-at-home-momhood, I am thankful. Not just to spend so much time with my kids but I am filled with gratitude for those special people who have become my village, joined me on the park bench and were always happy to swap kids. You know who you are.