When my husband told me he was going to have to travel to China sometimes for his new job I was so thrilled for him. It is pretty unpleasant to travel with a lot of small children (and expensive) so we don’t do it, but whenever you have the opportunity to see another part of the world that is exciting.
So my husband has been in his new position a few months now, and came home a few weeks ago with the news that they were actually in the beginning stages of planning a trip to China. I was very excited, my husband has always traveled some for work so nothing we weren’t used to. However, when he told me he was going to be gone for 15 days I was pretty surprised to say the least.
We live in a new place, we have made a lot of new friends, but you don’t just drop off your 4 kids for hours with people you like. Especially people who just are getting to know you, for fear they won’t want to get to know you anymore.
Honestly I have had a few people offer to help out with my kids, but sometimes I feel like people are just being nice and they don’t really mean it. Also, I feel like people don’t understand how much work it is to take care of 4 kids the ages of my children (6,4,3, and 1) so I don’t want to burden them when they were just trying to be nice.
I am still excited for my husband to see part of the world, I mean the possibility of the washi tape alone (no, but really).
Now I am faced with having to distract my children from missing their father for over 2 weeks. We are going to totally throw off their routine, which is going to cause a problem all on its own, plus their father will be gone, which will also be hard and just so happened that when my husband ended up leaving 2 of them were very ill.
Wow, well the first thing I wanted to do was make them a calendar so they could have a clear visual of when Daddy would return. It is very hard for kids to tell time, and really hard to keep track of so many days like this. So I made a countdown calendar, which really helped them. It also cut down on the constant asking of when daddy would return.
Each day I let them take turns on who would get to make the “x” on the day before.
I made sure to make the calendar bright and colorful and added lots of things we would be learning about that week in homeschool. I tried to add one picture for an activity we would do during the day aside from homeschool and church so that they would have some reference for whether the day had passed or not. Really it worked pretty well, and they have really enjoyed using it. I might be encouraged to add a monthly calendar to the fridge for every month, but I would have to plan a lot further in advance.
Turns out that illness had struck our household quite unexpectedly just as my husband was planning the last detail of his trip.
I have an 18 month old baby who was sick on the days leading up to my husband’s departure. This illness that has been going around town here was quite messy. For 5 days in a row, I had to change my babies sheets, and wash and dry them, and bathe her (twice) and oh there was also the diaper.
It was a lot, but then just as quickly as it had swept in it was over, which was great because we were able to go to church a few days later and my kids really look forward to that. Also it was my turn to teach the 3 and 4 year old class, and I didn’t want to let anyone down about that, so we went.
Then on Monday morning, I stepped out of the room to get something from the upstairs of our house and I heard my 3 year old screaming. Honestly, I was not even alarmed as she tends to scream a lot. I figured someone took her toy or her seat on the couch and would deal with it when I got back down there.
When I returned (maybe 2 minutes later) I found my 3 year old standing in front of the couch telling me she was wet, from what we later determined was “spit out.”
There are a lot of such moments as a parent, but we still salvaged what we could of each day, went to church when they were well and to the store (all of us) when we ran out of fresh fruit, vegetables, and bread.
We ended up having to miss 2 weekday evening church services with the kids being sick so I had to do some on the spot brainstorming, but we survived.
Here is what we did for fun and a good distracting time while daddy was away.
1. Clean up games I know this might not seem like the most fun but it was definitely necessary after daddy left. We have a few different games we play that really help the kids enjoy helping mommy without feeling like they are working. My oldest was happy to wash some dishes and make bubbles as she loaded them into the dishwasher. It was a wet mess, but she had a lot of fun.
2. Fun at a friend’s house. The next day I took them to a friend’s house who watched them while I had an appointment. That was the most work ever, and I cancelled all future appointments that I had while my husband was away.
3. Painting. After I picked them up from the previous day’s events, I took them all to the dollar store and we picked up some painting activity sets that I think are meant to be for Easter baskets. Each set came with a little bit of paint, a brush, and 2 waxy cardboard sheets to paint on.
4.Movie Night. My children are not always easily distracted by the television, but I picked up a simple movie from the $5 section at Target and it kept them happy for an evening.
5. & 6. More Painting – This was really great for the older kids who are ages 4 and 6. My 4 year old will be 5 in just a few weeks and they did really well with keeping things pretty neat. My 1 year old did not participate, but my 3 year old was out of control. She did not get to paint for as long as her older siblings.
7. Baking Cookies and Pizza. – We counted this as half of our homeschool day. We were able to talk about the concept of one half which we have been reviewing in school and were able to have a lot of educational messy type fun.
8. & 9. Puzzle Time – I had found some puzzles on clearance, they were 24 piece puzzles, each box had 3 puzzles in it and were $.25 each. So for a $1 I was able to buy 12 puzzles and we put them together over the course of 2 evenings. Actually I don’t think we got to all of them.
10. & 11. Evening Church – Our church has ministries for the children on Sunday nights as well as opportunities for the adults so, like we always do, we did this both of the Sunday’s my husband was out of town.
12. Park Visit – There is a little park at the entrance of our subdivision that is a bit too far for the kids to walk to. Since we happened to have our only car while my husband wasn’t using it for work, I was able to take the kids to the park for about an hour on Saturday since we did not have school.
13. Craft Time. One of the evenings I found a craft for a fire breathing dragon on Pinterest. So I grabbed some disposable cups and some streamers, craft eyeballs, and tape and the kids had a lot of fun playing with these all night.
14. Make up a Story Time – Usually for this time I start with reading a story. This time we had a story all about using your imagination. After we read the initial story I make up a story and then we all go around taking turns making up a story. My kids can never have enough turns doing this activity.
15. Play Doh Time – This is pretty self explanatory, but I sat with them and helped them make shapes and things they wouldn’t usually be able to do without me, so they really enjoyed it.
Between those activities and baths 4 days a week and sickness and laundry and meals, we really never had a free moment.
Several times the children mentioned to me that they were surprised how little they missed having Daddy around. I on the other hand still had to face the all to quiet evening while he was away. Luckily, I have this blog, tv, and reading to keep me company.
How do you keep your kids busy and distracted?