I’m actually the wrong person to be writing this post: I actively avoid staying at home with my kids. I usually go out twice a day with them just to make life easier. However, if for some reason we are confined to our four walls, I have come up with a few things that save my sanity (even though it was questionable to begin with.) I’m not an expert here so this is probably all really obvious shit.
- Have a routine. Even a crappy routine, like 7am: cornflakes, 7.30am: get everyone ready, 8.30am read stories. Without a routine, it feels like the possibilities of what can happen are endless, which sounds nice, but if kids are involved that isn’t a good thing.
- If things are getting tense, yell “snack time” and put them into highchairs, even if they’re five. At least then you have five minutes to drink coffee without it being kicked round you. Always have a huge collection of snacks in the cupboard that require minimal preparation. There is nothing worse than trying to assemble fancy hors d’oeuvres when two toddlers are wailing at you and shouting demands. I’m speaking from experience here. Anything that is in a packet and just needs opened is ideal, as is fruit that doesn’t need peeled.
- Do something weird. Kids go quiet if they’re surprised by something. So whether that is you suddenly galloping around the room or transforming the playpen into a cool tent, it’ll buy you some time to soothe your shredded nerves.
- If you’re in a giving sort of mood where the prospect of an hour’s cleaning doesn’t sound horrific, you could do crafts. I have messy crafts like painting for when I’m feeling calm and if I’m feeling stressed I give them stickers. You can’t make that much mess with stickers, unless they get near a wall. I also do highchair crafts to cut down on mess. If your kids are at least partially contained, the messy eruption doesn’t stretch as far.
- The TV is your friend. A friend that produces the shrill voices of kids’ TV presenters, but a friend none the less.
- If they are crying for no reason other than to wind you up, turn on music and sing in stupid voices. It stops tantrums, even if it’s just because they are momentarily freaked out.
- Come up with obscure tasks that they must do immediately. For example, “I really need you to wash the door of that cupboard right away.” It keeps them busy and surprisingly they think it’s amazing.
- Go out. Staying indoors with kids is a terrible idea.
I might follow this with a serious version of this post with ideas of simple, free things to do with your kids.