If you’re wondering why I’ve been so quiet this week it’s because I haven’t had a moment to myself. Spring break. Those two little words used to mean joy to me – a trip, some booze, time with friends enjoying the first warm sun and freedom of summer-soon-to-come.
Now those words mean I won’t stop moving from 7:30 on Monday morning until 5:00 on Thursday (only because I have Friday off). Just thinking about it makes me tired.
Why, you ask? Several reasons. Namely, kids. I always have extra kids, older kids, kids who don’t know the program, kids who come part-time instead of their normal schedule, and of course my own two kids, God love ’em.
In case you ever think your provider is a little too nutty about her schedule, know that there is a reason for it. You have a schedule so you can stick to it and your day will go along smoothly as planned. When the schedule gets messed up, things can get very difficult.
And spring break means: your schedule is getting messed up.
For one thing, I’m caring for my usual day care kids, which is a very big job in itself.
Then I have my kindergartener who isn’t interested in any of the stuff I do with them because it’s not cool (and it truly is too young for her), so she needs her own projects that usually involve a lot of digging on the art shelf, help from me, and another mess to clean. And she likes to be a helper, which is awesome in its intentions and good for her self-esteem, but usually undermines whatever I’m trying to do (a.k.a. she’s WAY too nice to little kids. That is a joke. I am nice but firm. She lets them get away with murder).
She might be able to play with my boys for a little while, but they are usually doing their own thing off in their room, outside, or with friends. And though they’re doing a great job of entertaining themselves, they are leaving a path of destruction in their wake (and I don’t even want to think about who was sitting in my bed and where they’d been when I crawl in it at night).
And everytime I make a snack or lunch I have to make two because the big kids won’t eat at the snack table and they don’t want the same food as the littles, or I just finish serving food to the littles when the bigs come down and say, “I’m hungry.”
On the normal schedule none of my kids eat a lot of food, but when they’re all together it turns into a pack mentality. As soon as there are more of them their appetite grows exponentially. It’s like they’re afraid they’ll never find food again. They devour huge amounts of it. I’ve been cooking non-stop for four days.
The older kids who end up with me (playdates, favors for friends who still have to work, etc.) don’t understand the concept of “quiet” when the littles are trying to sleep. So we usually get a lousy nap, which leaves everyone a little extra cranky in the afternoon. Plus I am entertaining/serving/trying to keep them quiet during nap. Nap is usually my sacred cherished time when I down a sandwich, make more coffee (fuel to get through the afternoon hours), and possibly read the paper or check my email.
When I don’t get to do these things I get cranky. As I sit here at the tail end of the week and wonder why I’m so short-tempered, I remember it’s because I literally haven’t had a quiet five minutes to myself for several days.
However I do have to say, without bragging on myself, that the week has gone splendidly. I haven’t lost it once. There has been peace and harmony (for the most part) in my house all week. That is an achievement that has taken years of training, lots of patience and letting go, and realizing that I don’t come first in this line of work.
BUT. Dammit, I’m cranky. And I need five minutes alone.
Oh, and did I mention that it rained for two days, and on the third day the sun came out but the wind was so blustery that we couldn’t stand to be out in it? And then on the last day it was 35 degrees in April?
This is the week that always panics me. It’s a sneak peek: as I’m constantly picking up toys and doing a tap dance to please kids who aren’t interested, I think, this is what the summer’s going to be like. How am I going to do it?
Then I remember that in summer, yeah, it’s insane. But we also get to hang outside all day. The sun is hot and we swim and get tired and rest in the cool house in the afternoon. The house is a disaster for three months, but life goes on.
Oh – that’s all of why I hate spring break but I do love it, too, because I have my kids! I don’t have to miss them and wonder if they’re OK, or drag them kicking and screaming to school every day for a whole week! And then I don’t have to rush back at 3:00 and fight the crowds for pickup! Staying home and chillin out – that’s just fine with me. Even if they do make a big ol’ damn mess.