I’m writing this blog from my car, parked in front of my grandmother’s house with two sleeping children in the backseat. Nobody (except me) wanted to nap today, so I decided we needed to go for a drive, culminating with a visit to see Great Grandma.

If you have kids, I’m sure you’re accustomed to the last-resort car nap. Lately, my toddler has been a napping degenerate so I’ve frequently found myself grabbing the car keys out of desperation. Because of this, I’ve decided that rather than drive around aimlessly, it’s important to have a strategy.

For example, today I enjoyed a stop at the Starbuck’s drive-thru for an iced coffee, then “relaxed” while sitting in traffic on Harlem Avenue, then parked outside my grandma’s house and spent a good 40 minutes writing this blog until Dariusz awoke. Both kids were rested and happy to see their great grandma when we finally made it inside. And Mama got some much-needed me-time.

Ready to turn your child’s car naps into your own peaceful or productive getaway? Here are 12 of my favorite ideas.

1.     Locate a drive-thru Starbucks (or other fast-food establishment) and reward yourself with your beverage of choice. Park, sip and indulge in a good book.

2.     Drive to a grocery store, park and plan a week’s worth of meals. Write your grocery list and then you’ll be all set to head inside once the kids wake up.

3.     Park and use your smartphone for some online retail therapy.

4.     Park in front of your own house, sneak out of the car (don’t lock the keys inside!) and work out in your driveway. Of course, make sure you can see your kids at all times, and that it’s not too hot/cold in the car.

5.     Listen to an audio book on mp3 while you drive. This one’s good if you have a kid who wakes up as soon as you stop the car.

6.     Clean your car. First take a drive through a car wash; then park and gather all the random Legos, dried Play-doh, Cheerios, raisins, Kleenex wads, etc. (yeah, my car is pretty gross) so that all you have to do when the kiddos wake up is vacuum the interior. Another option: Hand wash the car in your driveway to burn a few calories and save some cash.

7.     Mess around on your phone with whatever time-wasting apps/games/etc. you like to use.

8.     Turn your parked car into a salon. The natural light is great for plucking your brows (believe me, I’ve done it). You can also cut and file your nails.

9.     Keep a few postcards and stamps in your glove box. Pull out a postcard and write a note to a long-distance friend. Drop it off at a drive-up mailbox.

10. Practice your kegels.

11. Organize photos on your phone.

12. Sleep! Once the kids are asleep, circle back to your own driveway and park your car. Lock the doors and take a nap.