Sunday 25 March 2018
The Easter hols are here and thanks to recent snow days and a patron saint’s bank holiday, the novelty of having the kids at home may have worn off before it’s even begun!
So to keep your troops occupied and your sanity in check, I’ve compiled a list of cheap or free things to do over the coming two weeks. May the force be with you through it all!
1. Cinema clubs – the old reliable, especially for those rainy or cold days. Many cinemas have morning screenings of kids’ movies at a reduced rate over the school holidays. Some even discount their popcorn and fizz for an extra treat!
2. Picnic at the park – make hay while (and if) the sun shines. Lunch outdoors is an adventure of its own. Throw in a football or take in a playground and the kids can burn off some energy while you’re at it.
3. Write a family newspaper – as simple as it sounds. Assign all kids in the house a story to cover relating to your family or what’s going on that day. Then add some phone-taken photos or some drawings to accompany their articles and voila – you have your equivalent of “The Hogan Times” and the bonus of something for “show and tell” upon their return!
4. Visit the National Museum - There’s loads to see and entry is free! Thanks to school projects there’s sure to be several things that catch your children’s attention and it’s a pretty enjoyable visit for parents too. You can find more info at www.museum.ie
5. Playdates - Have some pals over to keep your troops occupied. There’s always the chance the favour might be returned over the course of the holidays, giving the double bonus of another day’s fun for your child and a bit of breathing space for you.
6. Go swimming - An activity everyone can enjoy, that’s not weather dependent or overly expensive. And it might tire them out a bit too!
7. Visit some relatives, or invite some over - With the restrictions of school and after school activities it’s hard to find the time to visit relations who might live that bit further away. If cousins are involved, the visit made or received is sure to cause even more excitement.
8. Board games - Always fun and often overlooked in favour of the computer type. And the great thing is that all ages can get involved!
9. Treasure hunt (indoor or outdoor). Draw up the clues and hide them inside or outside the house and let the kids do the rest
10. Build a fort – Timeless fun and a great way to keep the kids busy on a rainy day. And if you’ve a few kids, build two. They can visit each other.
11. Games from our youth – Remember how much time we spent outdoors growing up, wary of going indoors to use the bathroom even in case you weren’t let back out again? The games that kept us occupied for hours would no doubt do the same for our own children. So why not teach your kids how to play them? Hopscotch, Red Rover, Crocodile Crocodile, What time is it Mr Wolf, Rounders, Kick the can, Balls and Skipping – to name but a few!
12. Home baking – Most kids love baking and even those of us with limited baking skills can help our littles to make fairy buns, rice krispie buns and maybe something more. Happy bonus - dessert is sorted!
13. A walk on the beach – Even if it’s raining. Skimming stones and wave dodging are fun, rain or shine for the bigs and smalls in the family
14. Trip to the library - to browse and borrow books or to enjoy the different activities that regularly take place there, details of which can usually be found online.
15. Write a letter – To a grandparent, other relative or friend because who doesn’t love receiving mail that isn’t a bill.
16. Make sock puppets – Get crafty and creative to the best of yours and their ability. And then afterwards, do a puppet show
17. Visit a pet farm – Kids generally love visiting animals and a pet farm gives them the opportunity to get a little bit closer. Have a scour online for some in your locality. There’s lots of cheap and cheerful ones – and even some free ones too.
18. Play doh – messy, get everywhere, maddening stuff – that the kids just love!
19. Go out for muffin – a treat in a cakeshop always goes down well. (And the muffin is bribery to behave ;-))
20. Get everyone to do a self-portrait and make a collage – One to treasure and frame.
21. Have a karaoke competition - because, ahem cough, cough, you can have the craic joining in too.
Thursday 15 March 2018
I think every parent gets excited about a night out. What’s rare is wonderful they say and last weekend was very rare indeed – I had a night out with my college buddies. It’s been a very long time since we were all out together. I’d admit exactly how long if I had actually come to terms with my age yet, which I haven’t, so I won’t. But suffice to say I hadn’t seen some people since I’d left college and Whigfield was big at the time.
It was easy to see by the chosen venue that some of us (not me) have retained our coolness more than others. The music was loud, very loud. I’ll be honest I’m not even sure it was music – I think Madame Gazelle might refer to it as noise.
Conversations were roared over the din. I coped with the volume quite well – I think as a mum of seven I may measure loudness and shouting on a different scale to others.
We moved somewhere quieter to catch up properly and laughter replaced the noise. Laughter at recollections of our youth, laughter at our proven inaccurate theories and laughter at stories from our current lives.
I am a much more sophisticated being now and my college drinks of 20/20 and Ritz have been replaced with a penchant for red wine – you know, whatever is on special in the local supermarket. What has remained the same are my lightweight tendencies. As the giggles continued, aided by fabulous company and wine, a friend I hadn’t seen since we left college turned to me and said “Look at you, seven kids later and you’re still Jen”. She made my night.
And as I reluctantly said my goodbyes to my fabulous college pals, a promise of a karaoke night to follow was made. Brief discussions were held before my departure about solos and involvement and “enthusiastic participants”.
A song I loved came on the radio in the taxi on the way home. I figured it was the perfect chance to practice for our upcoming event – so I did, because after all I’m still me ;-)
Wednesday 7 March 2018
We took advantage of the snow days and did a clear out. Not the most exciting way to spend a few days but after fun in the snow, and constantly gnawing away on chocolate, to facilitate the rationing of bread of course, it was a welcome distraction from the cabin fever that was setting in - OK not welcome, but necessary in the interest of our sanity and future good family relations!
The great thing about having a large family is that there’s lots of “stuff” to pass on to other siblings. The bad thing about having a large family is that there’s lots of “stuff” to hoard that you might pass on the other siblings, or that you convince yourself you might because you don’t want to part with it.
It’s not that I’m a particular hoarder, I’ll happily discard any of himself’s newspapers and magazines whether he’s read them or not – and I have no issue “losing” certain horrendous gaudy-coloured football shirts that pass through the wash. Before anyone thinks this might border on spousal cruelty, I do his washing for him – it’s a hazard of the chore!
When it comes to my babies’ belongings however, I’m not so great. “We have 6 of the same sized coat hanging in the wardrobe” came the call from the youngest boys’ room. “I’ll put 5 of them in the charity bag”. In a time Usain Bolt would have been proud of I sprinted to the room. “ I need to check everything first” I said, “I know what ones I want to keep and what ones we should give away” There was also the matter of the pile that was going to the attic for memories’ sake and, just in case…
As each item of clothing was handed to me, I reminisced about which child had worn it first and decided if it should be given away, passed to the child it would now fit or put in the ever-growing attic pile that I was hiding down the side of one bed. Every now and then himself would show a moment of weakness and say “ah I remember this on…..”. I took that comment as confirmation that I should keep that item too.
I realised as I literally waded through small vests of every colour and size that my emotional attachment to my kids clothing and the very limited storage facilities in my house were not compatible. Something was going to have to give. “You’ve an awful lot of football shirts taking up space in those drawers under the bed” I said to himself “and those bloody football programmes too, could we get rid of some of them to make some space?”. He wasn’t keen.
Ruthlessly I discarded 3 or 4 vests to the “not being kept pile”. Everytime a bag for the charity shop was filled, I announced it loudly– “that’s five of them now – I’m making great progress” I said. I figured it would soften the blow when he realised how many bags of “I love these too much to part with them” he would have to find a home for in the attic. It didn’t.
“We don’t have space for all of this” he said. I dismissed the notion, he found space.
Momentarily I wondered if I had actually kept too much – and then I remembered there was a pile of washing waiting to be done….;-)