Eat your kids?

Here in Australia we’ve got another three-ish weeks to go before we send our little munchkins back to school.  Same with NZ families, and tomorrow a lot of American children are back in school after their Christmas/ Winter break.

I’ve had my kids home with me since the start of June.  We had three months of the American summer holidays, then when school went back in the states we began homeschooling, then we had some time visiting friends and family, then we moved to Australia just in time for the end of the school year here and more school holidays.

I seriously thought I’d be eating my children by now.

I have in the past, over other summers, been tempted to eat them you know……

Can I get an amen?

There was a time back in our American summer when our entire valley was covered in awful smoke from a whole bunch of forest fires – some of them close, some of them far away. The smoke was trapped in our valley and toxic levels of nastiness were reached in the air, making it unsafe to do anything outside.  This carried on for weeks.  Add to that hot, hot weather, and you’ve got a recipe for far too much screen time and much iced coffee to be consumed.  Or margaritas.

What kept me sane over those smokey weeks was three things.

1.  The summer reading programme organized through the public library.  A little bit of bribery and corruption in the form of their prizes goes a very long way.

2.  The sense of camaraderie that all of us parents had.  We were all in the same boat, all suffering together, so sometimes we joined forces and literally suffered together with joint play dates etc.

3.  Some advice from a much wiser woman than me.  My friend Jenny shared this at our Mum’s group one day and it has stuck with me, and changed the way I parent….she’s the most gracious, kind and sensible Mother I know.  Jenny homeschools her gorgeous lot (four kids, close in age) and she shared how on those days when she begins to feel overwhelmed by the amount of time they all spend together, and the pressure she finds herself under by just being with them all that time….for her the answer is not to walk out the door as soon as her husband gets home, not to have some ‘me time’, that so many of us think is so important (and yep I believe some of that is important), but Jenny says that when her kids are climbing the walls – or rather – she feels they are climbing the walls – for her the solution to her frustration is to actually change how she is spending time with them.  If she sits down with them and reads with them for example, and gives them her attention in a different way – this soothes everyone.  Everyone.

So armed with that advice, and the fact that I got through the Great Smokey Valley of ’13 without eating any children, plus a whole lotta grace…..I’ve been able to survive and even thrive for the rest of this ‘children being present 24/7’ season of my life.

Now’s here’s a handy idea if you are a reader in NZ and Australia and you’re beginning to get a little weary with the ever-present sprogs….here’s a little thingy we did this weekend:  We’ve got some great mates back in NZ. The O’Briens are the kind of people who you’re proud to know – they embrace life, they live beyond themselves in so many ways. They are real life heroes of ours. They did a cool thing a month or so ago.  They took their 3 kids to the mall and gave them each $2 to spend. They also made a $2 purchase each.  They then took a photo of the five purchases, didn’t say who bought what, and had their facebook friends vote on the coolest item.  Their kids are slightly older than ours so they included a prize for the person with the most votes for their item.  So – we did our own #obrienstyle challenge, and our boys loved it.  It got us out of the house and into an air-conditioned mall – you have to realize this was most important  – it was a stinkin’ hot day and we have no air con, and it got us all on a mission.  It cost us a total of $10 which is cheaper than going to the swimming pool, movies, bowling or going out for ice-creams.  So…why don’t you give it a try with your family?  If you do, can you instagram/ facebook/ tweet your experience with the hashtag #obrienstyle and we can play along too.  Thanks.

All the best for the rest of the summer holidays my friends – and in three -ish weeks let’s all raise our cups of coffee/ glasses of whichever alcoholic beverage you may or may not be hankering for – and say ‘cheers – here’s to not eating our children’.