I'm trying to pack up a big house while four kids and two dogs need attention - there's just no way around it. Letting them watch movies all day when they're doing it just because they're bored is a recipe for crankiness and that's a recipe for fighting and that's no good. And that's just the dogs.
I have an 'Emergency Box' that we use when someone wakes up on the wrong side of the bed or if we've had too many consecutive days of windy or rainy weather or if regular life is just not cutting it that day. I went through it about a month ago, culling and refilling and adding to it so that it would be ready for when I needed to keep them busy. And it's been fantastic. It's stopped situations like this from happening too often.
The box is always changing based on what I find at dollar stores, craft stores, what the kids are into, things I think might make them say "Whoa. Cool." Or at the very least "I think I want to stop losing my ever-loving mind about not being able to find my blue toothbrush - and no my green one, pink one, or Tinkerbell one won't work! - and look at that." Sometimes that's all I need to change a day.
This time around the box has:
- A container of instant snow. Awesome fun.
- Science kits.
- Homemade tangrams from foam sheets.
- New notebooks and colored pencils.
- Glow sticks. (Did you know that if you accidentally break a glow stick and then whirl it around in the bathroom it looks like fairy dust hit the walls and the toilet seat? You could also, if you wanted to, tell your Daddy that his butt now glows. But that's entirely up to you.)
- Crystal 'trees' that grow in hours.
- Bubbles. About three different kinds. They're almost all gone.
- Plastic balloon making kits. Really cool. And messy.
- Balloons. Three different kinds - regular, water, and those big ones with rubber bands on them.
- A cast iron pan that makes pancakes with animals on them. Found it on clearance from $25 down to $2.50. Score! We made those in the middle of the afternoon yesterday when tempers were getting short. (As Ainsley put it "Thanks for making these for me, Mom. I was getting high-tempered.")
- Wooden animal skeletons that you glue together.
- Tattoos. The temporary kind - the other kind take too much parental attention when I need to be packing.
- Small puzzles.
- Foam beads for necklaces and bracelets.
The majority of those cost $1. The science kits, instant snow and crystal tree were a bit more. Most require not much more than helping them get going, some don't even require that. The ones that require more involvement from me I count as a well-deserved break for me and/or an investment in a happy environment.
Back to packing.