Yes, that is a very long title. No, I am not an expert on what to do with your children while you are working on a big project. Yes, I very frequently pull my hair out trying to juggle my real job (taking care of my two sweet bumblebees) and my side job. But over the past few years I’ve found a few things that help a LOT when I am trying to get ready for a craft show or market while keeping those sweet little bumblebees fed, clothed and happy. They are pretty simple ideas, as I am a simple kind of gal. I hope some of my fancy schmancy words will help you if you find yourself trying to balance mama – ness and creativity.
Our snackies, all prepped and ready to go!
1. Preparation – the state of being prepared
This word can mean lots of different things to different people. The main way that I bring about the elusive “state of being prepared” is by prepping food in advance. I am BIG on freezer cooking, and I prepackage snacks so I can just grab and go. I just bought an awesome cookbook called Not Your Mother’s Make Ahead and Freeze Cookbook, and I love it. (The author, Jessica Fisher, is my absolute favorite mom blogger.) My girls are used to a half an hour or so of independent play while I am cooking dinner. If dinner is ready already, I have an extra half an hour to work on market stuff instead of working on dinner!
I’m also going to do massive amounts of laundry this weekend, and plan out two weeks worth of outfits for the girls, and maybe even myself. This may or may not help, since the Baby Bee’s love of mud makes her burn through outfits like fiendfire (yep, that was a Harry Potter reference. Nerd Alert) At least this way I can throw in a load or two instead of the usual half dozen. Really, anything you can do in advance will make your life easier while you are trying to finish a project.
2. Novelty – the state of being new or unique
First, raise your right hand and swear that you will never, ever tell my children what you are about to read.
We steal half or our children’s Christmas gifts the day after Christmas. They have never noticed.
I know that this tactic will not last long, that soon they will be hollering “MOOOOOOM! WHERE IS MY insert name of toy here!!!!!” on Dec 26th. But the last few years, it has been a blessing to be able to pull out one of those toys when I really need it. Like when the Little Bee is getting stitches removed, but that’s another story altogether. Things that are new, or novel, are fun! And they keep your little ones’ attention long enough to let you get some work done.
I am certainly not saying that you need to bust out a new toy for your kid whenever you feel like he might get bored, but if you can provide them with a novel activity you can buy yourself a few precious moments. In addition to pulling out random My Little Ponies and new puzzles, here are a few novel ideas that have helped keep the bumblebees busy while I work on a market project.
A big box! These little girlies and their imaginations turned this into a car, a train, and even the flyboat from the Baby Bee’s favorite tv show, WonderPets – also known as the only tv show she will watch for more that 6 minutes.
A couple little boxes. this is easy for me since I am an Amazon addict. They stacked them up, made baby beds, a house for a butterfly named Bud, all sorts of fun stuff! I threw in some fabric scraps and they were in heaven.
Playdough kits. We do playdough a lot, but when you throw in some other stuff, it takes on a whole new meaning. I’ve added feathers, beads, candles and cupcake holders, and little plastic animals to make playdough more exciting. PS, the plastic animals were one of the stolen Christmas gifts. Shhhhh…..
A roll of butcher paper. We do a lot of coloring too, but somehow being able to color all over something this big is super fun for these girls. You can even leave the paper on and pull out a new medium each day – crayons on Monday, markers on Tuesday, watercolors on Wednesday, etc. You can make quite a masterpiece!
3. Concentration – clustered or gathered together closely.
Okay, so that definition is weird, but fitting. Usually when you think of concentration, you think about using all of your brain power on something, but what I mean is more of the, um, orange juice sort of concentration. Don’t worry, here comes the explanation. I’ve noticed that if I can give my kiddos my “concentrated” attention for even a short period of time, they are more likely to play independently afterward. So I try give my kids my whole self, not thinking about what I need to do, just really focusing on them for a while before I have to do some work. Sometimes, I’ll admit, this tough for me when I am working on a big project. I am making mental lists, looking around, or my mind is just moving on to the next thing. But I’m their mama first and foremost. They deserve an undistracted Mama! And I know if I really throw myself into what those little people want to do, it’s much easier for them to let me go later. Or maybe they just get sick of me. I don’t know…
4. Reward – something given in return for service, merit, hardship, etc.
Well, this one’s easy to understand. Give your little ones a reward for all their understanding during the few weeks you have to work hard. I truly believe that it is good for little ones to see their Mama working on something she loves (second to them of course) but it is hard on them, especially when they are used to your undivided attention. The best reward is obviously your time! When the market is over, I plan on putting away my sewing machine for a while and building forts in the living room, taking long flower picking walks, eating popsicles on a blanket in the backyard, and just generally doing what those little Bees love to do. Hmmmm, that sounds like a reward for a tired Mama too!
See, nothing complicated, right? Like I said before, I’m no expert, but hopefully these ideas can help you. If you have any tips for keeping the kids clothed, fed and happy, please share them in the comments below. Lord knows, some days I can use all the help I can get!