It’s less than a week away now; that glorious day when the kids go back to school. Sure, to many parents it’s always a little sad when that happens, but if you’re anything like me you’re ready to send them back in before Christmas morning hits like a bomb shell – and turns your home into a warzone covered in plastic foodstuffs (or, as my 3-year-old calls them, ‘gredients’) and Lego bricks waiting to impale the soles of your feet.
But keeping them busy for essentially two weeks, that’s a tall order. And keeping them out of your hair, keeping your house in reasonably decent shape and having happy children… That’s an order so tall, trees don’t grow that high! So what can you do to help make things easier for yourself?
Pretend play is a great developmental tool for children of many ages. But it’s also the perfect way to keep them busy! A toy kitchen, garage or shop can be perfect for children of any age or gender and while you may need to provide some input in the shape of fake-food-eating, needing work done on your car or requiring a bag of apples to buy, it is both fun and exciting for children to act like adults. It allows them to role-play situations they will be in as adults, whether literally (as almost anyone will cook or shop) or figuratively (pretending to be a mechanic may be useful later on in interpersonal relationships, rather than because your little girl or boy will become a mechanic, although the latter is of course also possible!).
Helping with Housework.
Letting children help with housework seems like it might be just about as good of an idea as letting a fox help you count hens. But it actually has many advantages! For example, getting your children to start helping with the housework at a young age can instil a sense of duty, responsibility and normality in them. They’ll internalise housework such as tidying up and even running the hoover around as being normal, accepted parts of daily life. This is something that will not only come in handy for you, to help the housework become a lighter load as they age, but also for them when they move out on their own and don’t struggle with the sudden addition of housework to their already-busy schedule!
Mess is Best!
I don’t mean that you should let your house descend into terrible, decrepit levels of waste… I simply mean that you shouldn’t be too houseproud, either. A reasonable level of clutter is perfectly fine, and allows you to build a routine of tidying up every evening – although a particularly wonderful cushion fort or Lego city might warrant delay by a couple of evenings. Allow your kids to take over the house a bit and accept that it won’t be as tidy as usual. Noise levels, too, should be expected to rise a bit – if not a lot, at times. Your children are merely being children and enjoying themselves; it’s a lot better than having them up your nose constantly, so let them have fun and save yourself a bunch of fretting, shouting, and being the bad guy.
After all, they’re only children once!