There are days when you can’t leave the house, for a variety of reasons, and the children start bickering from the moment they finish breakfast. It’s never a good sign when you’re taking deep, calming breaths while mentally swearing a blue streak before 8.30am.
Husband heads off to work and Mr 2 cries as though the world has ended. I attempt to soothe toddler, whilst also enduring Miss 5 shouting progressively louder to be heard above her brother’s tears.
“I want a glass of milk PLEASE!”
“As soon as I calm your brother down, I’ll get that for you.”
“I want it NOW and I can’t do it. The bottle’s too heavy.”
I turn in desperation to Miss 9.
“Could you pour your sister some milk please?”
Miss 9 is often very helpful at times like this.
But not this morning.
I put sobbing toddler down to get the milk. He ramps up the crying.
Miss 9 starts emptying the craft cupboard.
“What are you doing? Please don’t get everything out.”
“I’m looking for the other walkie talkie. I definitely saw it in here,” she replies, her voice increasingly agitated. “It has to be here, it HAS to be!”
Now she’s wailing.
There’s nothing for it. I put on Peppa Pig, the most wonderful children’s program in the world for numerous reasons. Today it’s wonderful because the episodes are ten minutes long, which is how long I’ll need to put my plan of action into…well, action.
The children rush to the sofa like the tv addicts they dream of being.
Employ strategy #1: A den!
I rush to dig out the fabric Wendy house I made when Miss 8 was Miss 3. I set up the den and turn off the TV as the end credits roll.
“I’ve made you a den!” I announce excitedly.
All three are thrilled and rush in to play, grabbing various accessories and setting up house. Mr 2 has no idea what to do here, but gladly follows his sisters’ instructions.
The children play beautifully. For the thirty minutes it takes me to make some cheese scrolls.
Miss 9: Stop grinning at me like that. I hate it. I feel like you’re trying to kill me.
Miss 5: Yes. I know.
Miss 9: Argh! Stop it! If you’re going to try and kill me, I’ll never say I love you again!
Miss 5: I don’t even care. Argh, Muuuuuuum!
I turn from my hurried clearing up to see Mr 2 take down the den.
Everyone is crying and shouting again.
And so it goes on.
Employ strategy #2: Baking!
Only Miss 9 is keen. Luckily the other two are playing a car race game, so baking commences. Halfway through, I turn from the cupboard to find Miss 9 has disappeared.
“Where are you? I thought you were rolling out the dough?”
“I know, but my room needs tidying.”
After some discussion, she is persuaded to complete the baking before tidying her room.
The baking goes in the oven, the scrolls come out. On cue, Mr 2 starts crying. He’s bumped his head.
Employ strategy #3: Let’s have morning tea!
I read somewhere that kids need feeding every 2-3 hours. This is undoubtedly true, and you must adhere to the guidelines if you wish to avoid the Hanger.
We have oranges, grapes and cheese scrolls.
I look at the clock. It’s 10.45am.
The girls start bickering over who has the biggest slices of orange. Mr 2 climbs up onto the table to try and steal his sister’s scroll.
I intervene, reset the plates and reach for the coffee. What next???
Employ strategy #4: Movie time!
Don’t let the anti-tv brigade upset you. It is perfectly fine to put the TV on if you are stuck for ideas and the sweet sound of arguing siblings is ringing in your ears.
I clean up morning tea and send the kids off to watch a movie. They choose a Disney movie, and I have 85 minutes to come up with a plan for the afternoon.
But wait…what’s this? The movie ends and the toys come out. There is laughter and conversation. There is patience when Mr 2 moves something he is not supposed to move…I eavesdrop and sigh in relief.
I have a back up plan (lunch, playdough, crafts), but I may not need to use it after all.
Employ strategy #5: When your children are playing nicely, go away and make a nice cup of coffee. Enjoy!