School holidays: fun! (sarcasm font)

Well it’s the winter holidays. It’s cold and wet and the boys declined attending the extra week that their preschool offers, so they’re home for 2 weeks. I love them dearly, but with the demands of their little sister I can’t give them amazing amounts of attention and it’s pretty hard having things set up for them that she can’t destroy, so it feels like it’s best for everyone when they’re a school. Home seems boring for them and they get up to mischief and I get stressed out… and you can imagine the rest.

I’ve recently realised that, while in theory I want to foster their independence, in practice I tend to “rescue” them a lot and do things for them I really shouldn’t. I’ve been learning a lot about personality types and how I mother, how AH fathers, where we each clash with various children, and what those children really need. Still got lots to learn, but it’s really helping with some challenges we’re having at the moment…

So, strategies for holidays and keeping everyone sane.

1. Have their eating be as autonomous as possible.

Who doesn’t hate constantly having to think of things to feed children? I’m pretty fussy about what I’ll let my kids eat, too, due to food intolerances, trying to heal their guts, and knowing what I’ve learnt about nutrition in general. But they can be fussy, which makes me grumpy. And they’re also limited in what they can make, being 4 and 5 and rather short and occasionally clumsy.

This week I’ve given myself a bit of a holiday. I bought some (organic sourdough gluten and dairy free) bread, some ham (shh), some roasted cashews (also not great nutritionally), two small cans of tuna, some wholegrain rice crackers, plus some fruit and veg.

I put the not-so-perishables in their drawer (the drawer with all the plates and bowls is also accessible to them, and they can reach the cutlery drawer too)...

I put the not-so-perishables in their drawer (the drawer with all the plates and bowls is also accessible to them, and they can reach the cutlery drawer too)…

... and the other stuff in the fridge on what is now "their" shelf. Those little yellow things are squares of butter to make butter "sandwiches" with the crackers. It's too cold for the butter to be spreadable on anything but hot toast atm. There are also olives, gherkins, sauerkraut, muffins, carrots, apples, capsicum, lots of green things they won't eat, broccoli. They'll likely only eat apples and carrots cos everything else it too ew or difficult to cut.

… and the other stuff in the fridge on what is now “their” shelf. Those little yellow things are squares of butter to make butter “sandwiches” with the crackers. It’s too cold for the butter to be spreadable on anything but hot toast atm. There are also olives, gherkins, sauerkraut, muffins, carrots, apples, capsicum, lots of green things they won’t eat, broccoli. They’ll likely only eat apples and carrots cos everything else it too ew or difficult to cut. And I just realised there are some sausages higher up that I should put down there.

Then I made a chart detailing how much of what they could/needed to eat each day, and told them to make the food last the week. (It's totally not going to, and I'll have to make some smoothie at some point and maybe something some other days, but then they can help me plan for next week to make sure there's enough.)

Then I made a chart detailing how much of what they could/needed to eat each day, and told them to make the food last the week. (It’s totally not going to, and I’ll have to make some smoothie at some point and maybe something some other days, but then they can help me plan for next week to make sure there’s enough.) Lord B can read fairly well now, which makes things like this a bit easier to implement!

So far (day 2 of “help yourself” and day 1 of the chart) it”s working well. They’ve eaten a lot today and it’s only lunchtime. We shall see how it goes… I’m hoping the autonomy most of the time will make them more amenable to eating what I want them to at other times of the day. Dreams are free.

Breakfast they also help themselves to. Yesterday Lord B made some “breakfast muffins” (6 eggs, some cinnamon, 2 bananas, whizzed and baked, cos it’s the only way I can get eggs into them atm with little effort), so they have those some days and peanut butter other days. I’m not ok with the peanut butter, but it’s a battle I can’t be bothered fighting right now, and they can sort both out just fine without help. They also make themselves a drink of water kefir and magnesium.

2. Set things up so they know what they can do and also exercise their brains

Lady S is still not a great napper, which means I’m unavailable for big chunks of time during the day. Hardly ideal in the school holidays. AH works from home, but obviously can’t give the boys his full attention.

I set up a mini workstation in the room next to the office. Pencils and paper, sandpaper letters, a maths activity, a couple of puzzles, and one or two other works (an animal naming one atm) that I'll need to remember to change often. The boys can go up there and use their brains a bit when I'm busy with le beb.

I set up a mini workstation in the room next to the office. Pencils and paper, sandpaper letters, a maths activity, a couple of puzzles, and one or two other works (an animal naming one atm) that I’ll need to remember to change often. The boys can go up there and use their brains a bit when I’m busy with le beb.

Great success on the first day… they drew on the wall and got into a fight. Better so far today…

I also made charts for things they could occupy themselves with when they feel bored.

Mostly academic-ish stuff

Mostly academic-ish stuff

Mostly helping around the house-ish stuff

Mostly helping around the house-ish stuff

I was pleasantly surprised, on emerging from the baby’s nap this morning, to find the fire swept out and a box full of wood. They’d also proudly tidied up the playroom.

All neatly stacked.

All neatly stacked.

It was mostly Lord B, of course, but they’d both been consulting the chart to see what they could do. Hopefully the novelty doesn’t wear off too soon…

Of course they also have easy access to plenty of books, some of which Lord B can read to himself or his brother.

I’m also going to be a geek if I get the chance and print off some cool free Montessori printables I found, just to give them a bit of variety.

No doubt it won’t be the same for all children, but I think what makes mine act up is not having their lovely Montessori environment to give them autonomy and plenty of options. Obviously I can’t quite replicate this at home, but I can do little things to help, where baby sisters allow.

May we all survive the holidays with at least a modicum of joy!

Post script of sweetness - babe loves to draw just like her brothers.

Post script of sweetness – babe loves to draw just like her brothers.

And they're mostly happy to help.

And they’re mostly happy to help.

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