In 2008, salary.com determined that the worth of a stay-at-home mom in terms of salary is $116,805. For a working mom, in addition to the salary earned through outside employment, annual wages would be $68,405. This calculation was based on high priority functions: housekeeper, day care teacher, cook, laundry machine operator, psychologist, facilities manager, van driver, chief executive officer, and janitor.

The aspect that caught my attention here, outside of the extensive list of talents required for parenting, is that the majority of income calculated for both working and stay-at-home parents is earned through overtime. With all of this overtime, no wonder parents everywhere are suffering from burnout with little opportunity for refuge.

If we can’t find time for refuge — or simply to be able to clean the house, make dinner, do the laundry, etc., etc., etc. — we can create it. A few simple techniques implemented in and out of the house can help parents survive the day:

1. Make Stations.

One of my highly organized friends casually mentioned that her daughter was busy playing at one of her stations while the mom was working on the house. Stations? I asked her to explain. Throughout the house, this busy mom builds different stations of toys. She then moves her daughter from one to the next as the day progresses and boredom ensues.

Some days this works better than others, and switching toys around tends to encourage more creativity to be sparked.It also helps minimize helicopter parenting, while allowing your child to explore and create on his or her own.

2. Make a Parent Co-Op.

Find other parents who are able to watch your little one(s) for an hour or two a week so you can run overdue errands, attend a hair appointment, or spend time on a sadly neglected interest. The following week, you can watch your co-op partner’s little one(s) and return the favor.

3. Create Free/Cheap Activities.

Websites like Productive Parenting provide activity ideas to entertain, build the parent-child relationship, and encourage development.

4. Take Advantage of Community Activities.

In Colorado many of the children’s museums and zoos have free days that are ideal for escaping the house for a few hours. To find this information, you can “google” your county or town with the term “free days” and see if anything pops up. Here is a list for the Denver, Colorado area.

Visiting your local library also provides endless, creative and free activities.

5. Have a “Kid” Drawer.

Have one in every room of the house if possible! As you are moving around the house getting stuff done, your child can be engaged with items that are more interesting than the always-accessible toys. It will also fill their need to play with something that might normally be off limits.

6. Child-Proof the House.

Make sure the house is safe in all areas. This will relieve stress and widen the amount of room your kids have to explore. Some safety tips are: remove plants that are within the reach of children, put safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases, keep poisonous products out of reach of little ones, block access to TVs that are not secure from falling, and place corner pads on furniture with sharp edges. If you are interested in more childproofing actions, Keep Kids Healthy has an extensive list of safety precautions.

7. Keep Concealer and Lipstick Handy.

For all of us busy moms out there, this last item may be the most important, though it won’t free up any time. Keep concealer and a tube of lipstick handy at all times. You never know when you will run into the perfectly put together neighbor at the grocery store. As things seem to work, these encounters always take place on your least put-together day!