The boys were on school vacation for February break last week. I knew going into it that I wasn't going to get much done around the house. I didn't do much painting in the bathroom or any spring cleaning in the kitchen. Why? Because I wanted to get through the week with as little sibling fighting and as much sanity as possible. As an extra challenge, we are still TV and computer game free, so I had to keep all three guys busy without that. Here's how:
1. Get the kids out of the house. We loaded the boys into the car for mini-road trips often. First, the two older boys went snow tubing with their dad (I stayed home with the 3-year-old because I don't think he's ready for it). Then we took advantage of family game night at the church and teen game day at the library. (I don't technically have a teen yet, but it was for 6th graders on up and my oldest qualified. And, since I volunteered to chaperone, the two little guys went, too.) There was also sledding and trips to friends' houses. None of it was far away, expensive or fancy, but it was all a change of scenery.
2. Have visitors. When we weren't on the go, we invited other people over to play. The neighbor kids came over several times, my sister-in-law and her kids came over one morning and my husband's 90-year-old grandmother came over three times to help my middle son clean his room. We also invited over some boys that I will be babysitting after school, three days a week, starting this week. My kids had lots of fun with them, so I know it will be a positive thing!
3. Play outside! Nothing works out a kid's energy like some good, old-fashioned, outdoor playtime. We've got lots of snow here and the boys went out often.
4. Plan snacks and lunch. Things flow much better when I've got breakfast, lunch and snacks all worked out ahead of time. The food wasn't fancy, but it was easy and stuff the boys liked. I typically like to do this with dinner, but with all three boys here for lunch, it helped so much to have a plan for that, too.
5. Stay on top of basic cleaning. When everyone is home, the house gets cluttered fast. While I've given up on being a perfectionist with housecleaning, I do get antsy when things are out of control. Staying on top of dishes, the bathroom and the living room floor helps me feel sane when things are chaotic.
7. Take some time for yourself. Honestly, I didn't get a lot of that in the past week. However, I did make sure to take the time I needed to get some writing done. I finished 15 articles for Holidays Central and spent some time researching copy writing and blog writing. I feel really good about myself when I write and study writing. It makes me feel like a real writer! Especially when I've got a steady writing gig that pays.
8. Go to the movies. Though we are technically screen free this month, I didn't think a trip to the movies would hurt. It was another way to get out of the house and it's not something we do often. We saw Gnomeo and Juliet 3D. I didn't expect to love a movie about garden gnomes. But, I did! And, the kids loved it, too. It was colorful, sweet and a fun movie to watch.
9. Stick to the bedtime routine. Typically, when the boys are on school vacation, we all tend to stay up late. But, without TV and computer games, this didn't happen. We were so busy during the day that the boys were practically begging to go to bed. We stuck with the routine and everyone stayed well rested, which cut down a lot on the fighting and crankiness.
10. Don't pressure yourself to get a lot of things done. Like I said in the introduction, I didn't get much done on my major projects. I knew going into school vacation week that I wouldn't. There's only so much time in a day and I needed to use my time in other ways. I think if I had pressured myself to stick with the painting and kitchen cleaning, our week wouldn't have been as nice as it was. Backing off for a bit was a good thing. Now I'm ready to tackle both projects and get them done!
Our week was nice. There was minimal sibling fighting and the boys were pretty busy the whole time. That said, I'm glad to be back to our regular routine today!