From time to time, I bet moms around the world could unite under the banner of one simple phrase: “We need a break.” In a mom’s world where private tutoring, cooking, cleaning, working, carpooling and raising respectable, young adults all take precedence over most personal needs there is sure to arrive a tipping point. At the risk of the family network crashing, it becomes evident that mom deserves a break. Yet, for many of us, once the opportunity arrives we end up back in the kitchen cleaning dirty dishes. I know I do. It’s as if the ongoing years of taking care of others have seriously hijacked memories of the carefree self I once used to be. Well, there is good news! Moms can remember who they once were and who they currently are in ways that look a lot like a well-deserved break. And, this month, it can involve young teens.

Here are a few possible ways your teenager can help to lighten your steps moving forward:

 1. Have your teens cook dinner one night while you read your favorite book. Ok, so dinner probably won’t be filet mignon in mushroom sauce à la Bobby Flay, but it will provide your teens with appreciation for what it takes to put dinner on the table night after night.

Easy Calzone recipe

Prep: 20 minutes    Bake: 15-17 minute  •  Yields: 4 calzones

1 can store bought refrigerated classic pizza dough, like Pillsbury   1 package thinly sliced pepperoni   1 cup marinara sauce, plus more for dipping sauce   2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese   Dried basil   Dried oregano   Assorted chopped veggies like green pepper, onion, or mushrooms

1. Heat oven to 425ºF. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.

2. Unroll pizza dough. Cut dough in half crosswise; cut each section in half lengthwise. On a lightly floured counter, spread (or roll out with a rolling pin) the dough portion into a 7×5-inch rectangle. Spoon about ¼ cup of sauce on the bottom staying about ½ inch away from the edges. Then layer with pepperoni, veggies, basil, and oregano to your liking. Top with approximately ½ cup mozzarella cheese and another spoonful of marinara sauce. Fold the dough over the filling being careful not to let any of the filling spill out; press the edges over themselves and seal with fork tines to make a nicely secured edge. With a sharp knife make 2 shallow slits on top of the calzone.

3. Repeat process with other dough sections.

4. Bake 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. Heat extra marinara sauce, and serve with warm calzones as a dipping sauce.

Mini Quiche recipe

Prep: 40 minutes Bake: 25 minutes Yields: 12 quiches

2 boxes of store bought pie crust dough, like Pillsbury, thawed per instructions on the package   4 eggs   1 ¼ cup half and half   5-6 pieces of deli ham, chopped*   1¼ cups of shredded mozzarella or Swiss cheese*   Salt to taste   Pepper to taste   Smoked or regular paprika

*Optional fillings: Turkey or cooked sausage with cheddar   Spinach with sundried tomatoes, basil and goat cheese

  1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Spray a non-stick 12-well muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Unroll the pie crusts and use a 2 ½ or 3-inch round cutter (or other circular object like a round Tupperware lid or drinking glass) to cut dough sections out for each well. Fit the cut outs into the muffin tins, pushing the dough into the bottom and gently along the sides. Snip off any excess dough to fit nicely inside the well. Roll additional scraps in order to fill 12 wells.
  3. Whisk the half and half, eggs, salt and pepper together until frothy.
  4. Place about 1-2 tablespoons of chopped ham and cheese in bottom of each well.
  5. Pour or ladle egg mixture to fill just below the crust edge. Sprinkle each quiche with a dash of paprika for color.
  6. Bake until filling is puffed and set, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

2. Ask your teen to vacuum the house or your car while you go for a long walk. Fresh air does wonders for the brain and body, and walks around the neighborhood are a great way to decompress and relax.

3. A needed mid-week grocery run is a great way for your older teen to help out. You could steal a soak in the tub, polish your nails, or have an uninterrupted conversation with a friend for those 30 minutes.

4. Younger adolescents can walk, feed, and play with the family pet(s) while mom squeezes in some yoga or a quick workout session.

5. All teens are capable of organizing places of heavy traffic like a laundry room, a mud room, or hallways where things are thrown after school. Putting away socks, shoes, folded laundry, and book bags will declutter those busy spaces and afford teens less stress the next time they search for those items.  Mom can choose a fun movie or TV show while she waits for the family to finish up, knowing the following morning will prove a little less hectic for them all while trying to get out the door.

Bon courage, les mamans !

This article appears in the September/October 2019 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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