Who on earth thought it would be a good idea for children to have a twenty day Winter Break from school? I don’t remember having that much time off when I went to school. Last night my eleven year old daughter even said she was ready to go back. There’s only so much family togetherness one can tolerate before everyone starts to go bananas. Perhaps it’s cabin fever. The weather has been less than cooperative lately. But still…we have tried to get out of the apartment during the week. Our break started off with a round of illness and I am grateful that we are all now healthy. Since their recovery I have tried to provide ample creative opportunities to fuel my children’s need for activities, energy expenditures, and alone time. (Not an easy feat given that they do not have their own rooms. If your child has a room of his/her own…you’re ahead of the game.) There’s no chance of me telling them to go to their rooms. That option is out. So… Here are some of the moments that we have exhausted at this point:
1. Putting away the Christmas decorations.
2. Reorganizing dresser drawers and putting away clean clothes after laundry day.
3. Finding a home for the new games and toys that were received for Christmas. (We kept this minimal due to space constraints.)
4. Going to various venues to locate free Wi-Fi where games could be downloaded and Mommy could do her “therapeutic writing.”
5. Crayola Washable Finger Paints – Set of 10 colors – with heavy weight paper and paint brushes. (Painting has always been a favorite of mine with my own children and when I was a teacher. It’s a calming activity and can last a long time…usually until the paper runs out with my children.)
6. Coloring books, crayons, and lots of blank paper for personalized creations.
7. Glue, Scissors, Paper, and Items for Collages.
8. Making Cookies, Mac cheese, and a ton of Apple/Celery snacks.
9. Playdoh, Playdoh, and more Playdoh - with plenty of props for cutting, shaping, and sculpting.
10. Jumping and flipping on furniture when it’s too cold to go outside. (I actually am glad we can do this without worrying about ruining the furniture – second hand furniture can be awesome!)
11. Library trips and Story Telling.
12. Journaling (Each of my children has owned a journal since they were old enough to make marks on a piece of paper.) The Dollar Store is the perfect place to stock up on Journals and other creative supplies!
13. Trips to the “Picture Show” - We get a discount on movies after they have already been shown at regular theaters. Here in Colorado Springs I can take the children on Tuesdays for $1.00 per ticket. A large bucket of popcorn plus a large drink is $7.50 with one refill given on the popcorn. A drink refill is only $1.50 This is the only way I can take the kids to the movies. A regular theater is way too expensive. Finding a discount theater in your area is a treasure!
14. Visiting the Pet Smart store on adoption day when local shelters have adorable animals to visit. Although we are not in a position to adopt at this time, we love to go and talk with the individuals who devote time toward finding homes for the sweet animals. My children also enjoy talking to the animals and showing them a little love.
15. Going to the local Mexican Market to purchase Pan Dulce (Sweet Bread) as a treat. We love to eat the bread with a Coca-Cola to share.
16. Cleaning out the fish tank and watching the fish go crazy with happiness when placed back into their clean home.
17. Watching cartoons, family movies, and anything that involves no thought process whatsoever. Just pure laid-back relaxation as we caught upon all the shows we are usually unable to view.
18. Fighting, arguing, and making up as only a family can do when they have too much time together during the holidays.
19. Reading books, magazines, newspapers, and anything “old school” where you actually have to turn the pages, feel the paper, and smell the scent of ink…sensory experiences that are missed when you have access to on-line resources.
20. Visiting the Good Will, ARC, and VA Thrift Stores to locate amazing bargains.
We packed a lot into our Winter Break. I had moments of pure joy with my family. I also had moments of frustration and insanity when I wondered how I would make it through until school started again. It’s only human to want time alone at some point. Being a parent rarely affords one the luxury of even using the bathroom without someone saying, “What are you doing in there, Mommy?” To which I reply, “I’m writing the next Great American Novel! What do you think I’m doing in here?”
I hope this New Year allows me more opportunities to share interesting and fun times with my family. I want to become more patient and understanding. I wish I would be less needy in my desire for peace and quiet and moments to myself. But I anticipate that this normal human desire will continue to challenge my parenting endeavors. Hopefully the children will grow up remembering the totally awesome moments where we laughed, went a little crazy, and created memories that will last forever. Hopefully they will forgive the times Mommy enforced mandatory moments of alone time in order to preserve her sanity. Most of all, I want them to feel loved, treasured, and content with who they are becoming.
Thank You to everyone who has taken the time to read some of these posts. You are appreciated. I treasure your comments and commiserations on this journey of parenting.