Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mother of Mulitples (for One Day)

So...have I told you that on Saturday my husband leaves at six a.m. for a 100-mile bike race and won't come home till after bedtime?

Now, can I add that I am giving a dear friend her birthday present that day, which is a full day of babysitting so she and her husband can spend the entire day having fun together, kid-free?

It's true. On Saturday between ten a.m. and six p.m., I'll be alone with four kids under eight (and alone with two of them for the hours prior and after, as well).

Have I gone insane, you ask? What am I thinking? Why would I offer to have my friend cash in her childcare gift certificate on my bike-widow day?

Well, I'll tell you. Our kids are five and seven now. This means that, believe it or not, it is frequently easier to care for four of them together than two of them alone. Sounds crazy to the childless and parents of younger kiddos, I know, but at this point they entertain each other, which frees me up to--well, not have to be the entertainer all the time.

Oh, of course, when it comes to an eight-hour day caring for four children, I'll definitely be on active duty. I'll be cooking two kid-friendly meals and one snack, including setting up make-your-own-mini-pizzas for dinner. I'll put out the sprinkler if it's hot outside so they can run through it in the afternoon. I'll be wading through a playroom floor covered in Barbies and Polly Pockets and play food by the end of the afternoon. I'm planning the structured activities (some of my ideas: pasta art, Play-Doh or cornstarch clay sculpting, painting outside, making cookies). I'll have to field crankiness and break up arguments at times, I'm sure. I've already decided that at one p.m., when my daughters still usually have "Quiet Time," I'll be putting in a cartoon movie and making everyone settle down with pillows so I can have the hour of peace and quiet to which I am accustomed at that time of day.

But for the most part, I'm happy to have company on my long, solo-parenting day, to help pass the hours and occupy the children. And I hope my friend and her husband make the most of every hour. But, at 7:30 p.m. when my kids are finally in their beds, you can bet I'll be collapsed on the sofa in front of mindless TV. Maybe I should pick up a bottle of wine when I go to get that cartoon movie.

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