The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day.
In the popular Dr. Seuss story of The Cat and the Hat, the mother actually leaves the kids behind. We never find out exactly what she’s been up to. Only the hint of a sassy red dress and black high-heeled pump are shown as everyone scrambles to put the house back in order before her return. She is blissfully oblivious to the cat’s enlistment of Thing 1 and Thing 2 to entertain the children who are nearly bored to death.
The modern day mom needs to be all that – find time for herself, maintain a happy household and ensure the kids are well-looked after and engaged in productive, not destructive, activities. I can relate to the balancing act of the cat in the book, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun but you have to know how. I can hold up the cup and the milk and the cake! I can hold up these books! and the fish on the rake!”
Enter last Sunday afternoon. With one child recovering from pneumonia, it was essential to keep the quiet-time activities going all day long. Not an easy feat with comments like, “This is the most baddest day ever!” and “Mommy, you don’t have time for us!” After having family in town for three days, there were plenty neglected household duties to take care of. Would I be able to read each of the 33-page manuals for our new washer and dryer to do eight impending loads of laundry? What about some yoga? Would I have energy to make a nice dinner (later in the story, we find out not really)?
While keeping kids busy may not be rocket science, it does take an initial investment of time in small increments throughout the day to keep them on a happy track. I have to constantly remind myself of this. It turns out that the solution to my daughter’s melt-down early in the day was teaching her how to wrap presents. Really? This we can do. Five different sized boxes later and remnants of wrapping paper from ten Christmases ago, we measured, cut, taped, creased and attached bows. This skill will come in very handy in a few weeks.
After this activity, I began to disallow my high-bar for crafts to set in and just went with it. I challenged them to make a snowman mommy-style. Never outside in the cold, rather the indoor type that never melts. To set the tone for the care they were to take with its construction, we determined that the finished paper snowman would be taped to each of their doors. They spent some time in the kitchen deciding which pots and pans would work as tracers for the three snowman circles.
With tracing and cutting complete, they colored and designed while I got in 17 minutes of uninterrupted yoga. When they joined me at the 17 minute mark, it threw off my namaste. I insisted they get out their mat and join in. Basically they just wanted to perfect child pose and give me the occasional helpful spot for positions like Ardha Chandrasana.
All in much better moods at this point, we admired the snowmen and taped them to each kids’ bedroom door. We made a simple dinner of reheated corn casserole and little smokies with a fresh green salad topped with radishes. We talked about how we didn’t even need to leave the house to have fun. “Then he got up on top with a tip of his hat. ‘I call this game Fun-In-A-Box,’ said the cat. ‘In this box are two things I will show to you now. You will like these two things,’ said the cat with a bow.”
And I do. I really like these creative children who actually can just delight and surprise themselves with the things they can do.
As a side note: while mommy was out on Saturday, husband and son did find their own time to create. Aluminum foil, a box and a string of lights, was a welcome Christmas tree outdoor lantern to come home to.