It’s been a long week, folks. We’re now at the tail end of winter recess, that week-long break from school wedged into the dreary abyss that is February in the northeast.
Now, I can appreciate what a gift this break can be to certain aspects of the population. Like teachers. I was one, once eons ago, and as the final bell rang that Friday afternoon, I was stoked!
It’s also a fabulous time for the families that use the extended time to go on vacation: preferably to somewhere that is warm, sunny, and includes childcare. I’ve never been to such a place, but I have heard that such bliss does indeed exist.
But for myself, as the school hours on that Friday before break draw to a close, I’d be feeling less enthusiasm and more, well….
Because when you’re used to the daily routine of depositing 75% of your brood off to school and using those hours to power through a massive to-do list, having a week of changing gears can be daunting.
But at the close of this week, I’ve come to the conclusion that I used to be my own worst enemy when it comes to weathering the winter break. I’m getting it now. Here’s why:
- I should expect the weather to be intolerable; it’s winter break.
Hello, it’s winter. Winter in NY. I should know by now -and do this morning, thanks to countless car dashboard temperature pics on Facebook- that it will be cold. And likely dreary. And somehow, I neglect to take this into account, mentally, and end up peering out my windows in disgust, muttering about why it’s suddenly impossible for them to play outside for an hour or so.
2. I WILL hear the phrase “I’m bored” at least 97 times; it’s NOT personal.
The kids are used to a very busy, time-oriented school week. Each day has a steady flow to it. Then suddenly, we are thrust into a week that seemingly endless time. And while I’m dashing around at my normal frenetic pace to get tasks done, I’ll inevitably run into at least one child per hour who whimpers, “I’m… bored…”. And my gut reaction? To promise that they shall never, ever be bored again this week.
I used to take this statement personally. But I realized this week that it’s not personal. The kids can be so used to going-going-going that when the time slows down, they’re at a loss as to what to do with themselves. A simple bit of redirection goes a long way. Sometimes, it’s results in a heart-warming moment.
Accept that even after they enjoy a fun activity, the likely response will be the infamous, “I’m boooored..”
3. The crumbs will not go away- ACCEPT IT.
Take six kids, add roughly 12 hours of awake time circulating the house, and blend in countless food products. The crumb production during this week is staggering. No matter how meticulous I am with my trusty broom, our floors still resemble the sandy beaches that I long to be lying on at that very moment.
4. Paint. They will want to paint.They will ask to paint. Just let them paint.
Paint and I have a love/hate relationship. While I love creativity and kids having fun, ….I …hate…. messy… stuff. I used to be so good about letting my kids get crafty. You know, back when I had, like, two kids. But put six kids into a room together, add paint, and s–t’s gonna get real.
It will be messy. And paint will be spilled. And someone will try to eat the paint. BUT- they love it. They really do. And there is usually so little time in our regular schedule to embark on such endeavors.
Let them eat paint, she says..
5. Food, glorious food… buy TONS of it.
A week off simply blows the food budget. It took me a few years to catch on to this, but I know it by now. Because in addition to now needing to provide them with the lunches and snacks that they’d otherwise be eating in school, it’s a given that the words, “I’m hungry” or “I want a snack!” will be uttered at least 15 times per day. Instead of those last minute, scrambled grocery trips, I now plan ahead. I stock the house like we’re snowbound for a month (which due to the cold, almost seems true.)
6. As per #5, you’ll need extra food… because there will be TONS of friends here.
When you’re attempting to entertain 6 kids, adding a few extras might seem ludicrous, but in reality, I’ve learned they’re really a godsend. Bringing one or two (or five) kids into the mix actually changes the atmosphere of the house. The kids settle into fun with their counterparts, reducing the tattle quotient by at least %50. And that is well worth the cost of extra chips and juice.
7. Instead of being overwhelmed by it all, soak it in.
“The days are long, but the years are short.” Kids grow up quickly. And in the midst of school, sport practices, playdates, etc., there’s less and less time to savor downtime in the home, together. So instead of stressing about the crowd, the crumbs, and the chaos, I’ve learned to remind myself how blessed I am for these slower times:Six Pack Mom