I vowed this Christmas wouldn't stress me out. I lied. No matter how basic my plans, they always seem to escalate and I end up going in circles.
With the pressure of in-laws coming for Christmas, I'm frantically trying to clean and tidy. I feel like King Canute trying to battle the tide; wherever my kids go, they trail chaos behind them, drowning me in mess.
I swear my children have the super-power of spontaneous matter generation; my life would be very different if only they produced gold, instead of crumbs and toy cars.
I thought the puzzles were safely hidden, but no. I could have made puzzle-angels in the drifts of jigsaw pieces I found in the lounge, but perhaps Dora / Postman Pat / Bob / Thomas wouldn't have appreciated it.
And the toilet-training, oh man, the toilet-training. The twins did really well for a while, but it's hard at the moment. My eldest did not appreciate pee in a pile of his Lego, and neither did I. And as for the laundry? Ick.
But I've found a few tricks to turn the tide. It's a lot easier to get things done when my kids are engaged in activities.
Mowing the lawn was on my to-do list, but I knew it was too hot to do the whole thing in one go. I mowed a maze and the kids spent hours running along the paths, while I sewed Christmas presents.
We've made good use of the library - and scored 35 books for $11 at their book sale.
I tied the hose to the top of the swing set to make a gently-sprinkling shower swing, so I could weed the garden without the actual plants being in peril from my "helpers".
I've done some toy rotation, bringing out items that have been stashed in the garage for a while. Absence makes the toy grow funner.
But probably the biggest way that my kids are being distracted is by each other. The twins have suddenly become even more vocal and imaginative, in a way that engages my eldest, despite the five-year age gap. I hope it lasts!
Do you find this time of year stressful? What are your best tips for keeping the kids occupied and engaged?
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