As a working mom, it seems like I am endlessly juggling schedules. From early release days at school to President's Day, institute days, and holiday breaks, I often feel like the kids spend more time out of school than in. While I don't have the luxury of taking all of the same days off that Katie has off, I do take some and try to make them fun days rather than cleaning, laundry and grocery store catch-up days.
The kids are on Spring Break this week and thanks to my best friend who is back in the work force this year and our husbands, we have all managed to take time off work to spend trading off the children. Our kids are a year apart in age (their son, Scotty, is 8 and our daughter, Katie, is 9) and they play miraculously well together.
Yesterday was my day.
I didn't plan any activities and was feeling mildly guilty about it. In a world where we schedule "playdates" having an entirely unscheduled day can feel a bit irresponsible. I know I 'm about to sound like our parents when I say this but I remembered back to my childhood when playdates didn't exist and going out to play was exactly that. Our imaginations were all we had to rely on for entertainment. We'd get on our bikes and ride around for hours, stopping at parks and creeks along the way, catching frogs, climbing trees, and chasing the ice cream truck around the neighborhood. We'd return home hours later, smelling like dirt and grass, grimy enough to turn our bath water instantly brown but having had a great adventure!
I decided to refuse to feel guilty about not having a plan and, instead, packed the kids a picnic lunch and sent them on a pine cone hunt. "Go have fun, kids! Have an adventure!" I said, patting myself on the back for coming up with this spectacular idea that didn't involve computers, TV's, or gaming systems! Go mom!
To my surprise, they were back in 10 minutes. They handed me their empty lunch bag and 2 grocery bags filled to the brim with pine cones. A bit miffed, I scratched my head and said "wow that's a lot of pine cones!" The kids announced they wanted to do "arts and crafts" with them. OK, I can go with the flow... I pulled out paint, brushes, elmer's glue, and glitter glue and they went to town decorating. Still a bit puzzled, I thought to myself where the heck did they get this many pine cones so fast?
I let them go for a while and then I noticed they were making thank you notes so I asked, "who are the thank you notes for?" to which my daughter replied, "this nice man gave us two full bags of pine cones when we were sitting under the tree eating our lunch." And just to clarify (because I know you're thinking what I was thinking, the "nice man" really was a nice retired man who lives near us)
I had big dreams for their great pine cone adventure but I digress. I still think they had fun:
look at those smiles!