School holidays – like it or loathe it, they happen every term. In Australia, it’s that time of year and even though my kids are not at school, it means a break from all activities including kinder, music, playgroup and ballet. So, now I get it – the feeling shared amongst mothers across the globe – ‘How on earth am I going to entertain my kids all day long without assistance?!’
Week 1 of 2 is down and it was long. 14 hours a day keeping 3 pre-schoolers entertained, (one of whom has the attention span of less than a minute) is hard work. Here’s a rundown of how I survived:
Day 1: Get creative at home.
On Monday, recharged from the weekend, I am ready to face day 1 of my challenge. The arrival of the sun after days of rain inspires an outdoor activity. Feeling awfully clever, I suggest that my little fairies trade their tutus for some pirate action. Miss A drew the treasure maps and mama made the treasure by wrapping wooden blocks in gold shiny paper. I know, Mister Maker would be very impressed. I hid the treasure during naptime, and hollered my best, “Arr, me hearties, it’s time to hunt the treasure” when they arose. It was a hit and killed a couple of hours – I mean it provided a couple of hours of fun-filled entertainment. And I felt rather pleased with myself. A+ for initiative Mama!
Day 2: Time to get out of the house.
Today I spontaneously announced to my little bundles that I was taking them to the café. Cue: Shrieks of delight. For the practiced café goers amongst mothers, this is probably not a big deal but, for me, it’s a rare activity with 3 kids in tow. But I was feeling ambitious and needed a change of scene. Here’s what I learned:
Rule number 1. ALWAYS bring wipes, so when baby dry retches up the entire contents of her cookie-filled mouth you don’t have to use the entire café’s napkin supply to clean up. Important lesson learned: bibs and wipes are essential items.
Rule number 2: Remember to pack distractions. My half-baked attempt at keeping them entertainment with ABC flash cards kept them occupied for all of half a minute. The individual sugar cubes were a much bigger hit. Lesson learned: apologise to the staff in advance for the mess.
Rule number 3: Be prepared to spend lots of money. Lesson learned: Look into business opportunity supplying cookies to cafés. At $4 a pop that’s a lucrative market that I could be tapping into.
Rule number 4: Don’t bring you child’s favourite soft toy and then leave it behind in your frantic escape.
Day 3: Go to friend’s house and mess up their place
With 3 kids underfoot most of the day, I’ve no time for spot cleaning. My carpet is a breeding ground for blue play dough and squashed sultanas. My walls have murals drawn on them, and there’s an ever-building pile of sand indoors (Now I get why some people don’t have sand pits at their place). Time to get outta here.
So, we abandoned ship and went to a friend’s house, whose home resembled a crèche. The mums drank coffee and the kids ran amok. Every piece of every puzzle was upturned and the playroom resembled a war zone. Been there, experienced that – just glad it wasn’t me cleaning up the mess. Usually I like to restore a bit of order before I leave someone’s house but this was beyond help. Mission aborted!
Day 4. Outsource the kids
Over hump day but still not near enough to the weekend. Time to outsource the kids – I mean – send them to their loving nana’s house for the day. She will bestow far more tolerance than me, and the break will give me my sanity back. First mission: Clean the house. I never thought I would describe chores as peaceful but there’s something mildly meditative about doing it when there’s nothing but SILENCE around you.
Second mission: Go shopping for hubby’s birthday present. As every mother knows, a shopping centre with kids, during the school holidays, on a wet day is not fun. But, sans enfants it’s actually not bad at all. I smiled sympathetically to a few mothers as I strolled past them, swinging my arms and my bags, whilst their toddlers threw high octave tantrums. Amazing how you can let it wash over you when you’re not responsible for them. The only downside was finding a car park. I considered parking in an allocated spot for prams. One side of my brain reconciled the act; I had 3 car seats in the back, but I just didn’t have the little tackers with me. But I couldn’t cope with the disapproving looks of onlookers so I parked far away from the entrance. No big deal – I had no kids! Everything is easier without kids!
Day 5. The end is in sight.
Only one more day to shared parenting. Ambitious task: Bake the birthday cake for hubby with three little ankle biters. Do I have it in me? Yes, I do. It’s not easy with one child, let alone 3 in the kitchen but I had the essentials:
3 happy, sugar-faced kids.
Week 1 is over. Another one to go…
How do you survive the school holidays? Any tried and tested methods you can share?