This mom thing, man.
Some days you’re killing it. Some days you’re doing your best to hide in the bathroom.
Right now we are drudging through the trench that is Spring Break.
I know there are a lot of parents out there jumping for joy, excited to spend a full week with all of their little ones home or vacationing or whatever else. This is an amazing, magical week for you.
This post is not for you, friend. I love you and your enthusiasm for Full On Mommy/Daddy Mode, but this post is for those of us struggling to stay above water this week. And not start drinking before noon.
I adore my children. They are most certainly three of the best parts of my life. They are hilarious and fun and sweet and cute and amazing to me every day.
They are also bored, cranky, destructive, and a touch sassy (don’t ask me where they get that, I don’t know) and when they are forced to be around each other and my lovely self 24 hours a day things get less than pleasant, fast.
This particular Spring Break has been extra amazing because of the weather. I had planned on a zoo trip, going to the park and the library, and taking walks all week to get them
good and tired and out of my hair playtime, sunshine, and fresh air. Thanks to the snow, wind, and cold…we have been stuck in the prison that is inside. And you all know what that means.
In the spirit of the Loyal Order of the Parents, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Spring Break past times for my kids. You will note that most of these are activities that the kids can do independently – it is so, so good for them to play by themselves or with their siblings. Not only does it help develop their ability to cooperate with others and cure their own boredom, it also leaves you with time to do the things you need to get done during the day. School breaks are great, but mama’s “break” doesn’t exactly work the same way!
Oh yes, this is my number one. I mean, if they are going to be home all week making my house messier than usual, I should at least have them help me clean it up, right?
– My 8-year-old helps with laundry, dishes, sweeping, vacuuming, and cleaning her bathroom.
– My 6-year-old wipes surfaces, cleans windows, puts away toys, and folds blankets. Both big girls fold and put away their laundry and keep their rooms clean(ish).
– My 3-year-old….well she’s really good at walking around behind her sisters and undoing whatever chore they just finished. But she really likes to start the dishwasher and feed the dog and the guinea pig!
I like having my kids do chores, not only does it instill in them a sense of responsibility and family belonging, it also helps them realize that Mommy isn’t sitting around doing nothing all day long. And they know there’s always more work that could be done – if they don’t do what I ask the first time, with a good attitude (my oldest has learned to roll her eyes, Lord help us all), they get another task added on to their list. And it escalates quickly to “pick up dog poop.” No one wants that. (HUGE thank you to my friend Becky for the amazing idea of “Do it the first time with a good attitude, or I’ll find more work for you”, it has served us well.)
Now that the house is clean, let’s mess it up again with paint, construction paper, and glue! Yes, I am crazy. But my girls will sit at the kitchen table with a stack of paper and paints for about an hour. That’s good enough for me. I just go down to the dollar store and buy a few cheap plastic party tablecloths and throw those down on and under the table to catch any mess. My favorite activity for the toddler is handing her paper and a glue stick and a baggie full of shapes and other scraps of paper (usually leftovers from whatever project the big girls have created) and seeing what she’ll create. That’s like recycling, right?
- Sidewalk chalk
Again, it’s cold and windy and wet so sidewalk chalk was definitely not at the top of my list for this Spring Break, but we have an unfinished basement where all of the toys are so I send them into the basement with their box of chalk and let them go at it. (Don’t worry, they clean it up with the next activity!) Everyone gets to be an artist and the little girls practice writing their names because who under the age of 10 loves writing anything more than they love writing their name?!
- Paint the house
No, I have not lost my marbles. Give any elementary aged child a bucket of water and a paint brush and they can paint the exterior of your house, your driveway, rocks, pretty much anything, including your unfinished basement! The nice thing is it changes the color of whatever they are “painting” enough that they can make pictures, without any mess, and it air dries. Win-win.
- Get out of the house
Hit up the library, a friend’s house, go for a drive, walk around the mall, basically whatever can be done to get them out of their natural habitat. I don’t know what God finds so funny about making my kids hard-wired to fight at home and be perfect little playmates anywhere else but He sure made them that way! We spend as little time as possible at home during breaks, especially if we aren’t going to be able to play in the yard. We tend to even go on library tours in neighboring towns just to switch things up a bit and keep them excited. It’s the little things, people.
I realize that to some, this may sound a bit harsh. Does she not like her children? Of course I like my kids, they are my favorite! Does she not realize these moments don’t last forever? Of course I realize that. But I also realize that my kids need to see my needs be met, as well as theirs. I’m not here to cater to their every whim, I am here to guide them through life to make them functional members of society. That means home manicures, chores, independent play, and trips to the library and zoo with our family and friends. But it does not mean that every second they are home on Spring Break is devoted to me making sure they are having the most magical, meaningful, memorable (M3? May have to make that a thing…) time ever. That’s just not my job, man.
Till next time,