After taking so much time off over summer to go to Europe, I’ve no holidays left in the kitty at work. So I’m working through these hols. Bart is taking a couple of days each week to keep the kids occupied, and they have been to friends’ places and activity camps and the like. They are basically having a dream holiday.
Then it came to today. Today I didn’t have anything scheduled and thought I’d just work through and ‘wing it’. One day of the hols can’t be too bad, can it?
Yesterday I laid down the laws:
- no screens (because I am an idiot)
- no dobbing (because it’s time to stop using the dobber kid as my snitch)
- no leaving anyone out (because when you have three, someone always gets left out)
- no asking for food between meals (because no)
- clean up after yourselves as you go (because I live in hope)
- no bothering mum-at-work unless blood or vomit (fair enough)
Pretty reasonable, I thought.
This morning they woke up and the first three things I heard were:
- Good morning darling mother
- Do you feel well rested after a good night’s sleep?
- What would you like for breakfast?
Oh sorry, that was last night’s dream. The first things I really heard were:
- I’m hungry
- She’s wearing my shirt
- Can I go on the Wii?
It was already a long day and I hadn’t even made it out of bed yet. I pulled the covers over my head and thought, “‘winging it’ was a very, very, very bad idea.”
Fast forward the day and so far my kids have:
- Played six rounds of Fly
- Captured seven different types of bugs for their ‘bug zoo’
- Created timed obstacles challenges for each other
- Played with the chickens
- Drawn their ‘dream houses’ (complete with a trapeze, Pokemon library and a dance floor – depending on child, no points for guessing who belongs to what!)
- Played ‘Bush Club’ on the big rock in the bush next to the house – no parents allowed (such a shame)
All without bothering me. All without bickering. All together.
I’ve been working away all day, listening to them co-operate, invent and create and sometimes I haven’t been able to see the computer screen because there is something in my eye. I honestly cannot believe how well these kids are going today. I can’t believe that my plan worked. And I can’t believe that I haven’t thought of this plan before today. Actually, I am probably mostly teary because I haven’t thought of this plan until today.
See, there’s one rule for the day that I didn’t tell you and it has made all the difference in the world. It changed the way these kids have gone about their day. In fact, I didn’t hear a peep from them unless it was lunch time or afternoon tea time.
What’s the secret rule?
- Write down a schedule for the day and plan out what you will do
This morning after breakfast they wrote a time table in half hour increments and came up with all the things they would do and what time they would do them. They worked together to include things that all three liked and agreed that they would each have their own list of three things to do ‘just in case we don’t like the activity everyone else is doing.’
9:00 – 9:30 am — Fly,
9.30 – 10.15 am — Bug zoo (a bug zoo! How cool is that!),
10.00 – 10.30 am — Obstacles
and so forth.
Cappers three ‘just in case’ things included ‘nature rubbings’ (don’t know what that is), ‘colouring in’ and ‘finger knitting‘. Badoo elected for ‘dress designs’, ‘play in fairy garden’ and ‘help mum’ (thank goodness it never came up!). Max’s included ‘make muffins‘, ‘organise Pokemon cards’ and ‘read’. None of the kids seemed to need these activities, but the fact that they had a back up made me so proud.
My kids are growing up, no doubt about it. But the whole schedule thing made me realise how much kids of any age thrive on knowing what is coming up next. Do you remember how long a day used to feel when you were small? Endless! Having a schedule breaks it down into manageable chunks, gives the kids something to look forward to, gives them responsibility for their own fun and keeps them on track with new ideas for things to do. Little kids would like this too: they just need Mum to help them make the list and keep them on schedule.
Give it a try! It’s a miracle, I tells ya. A bona fide (school) holiday miracle. Right now they are outside under an orange sky starting to build a cubby house for their Bush Club. I feel so sad that they won’t be home tomorrow to finish it.
What’s been going on at your place these hols?