September 30, 2010

Solo

Very early on Friday morning, my lovely wife will be taking a much-needed and well-deserved break from being a mom, boarding a plane headed for a lovely tropical destination where she will play in the ocean and drink fruity things with colorful umbrellas. I will be staying in lovely, cloudy Virginia, with my nuts and my children (who are also, at time, nuts). I'm really looking forward to the time alone with my kids. But I'm also slightly terrified.

I'm a good dad. Okay, I'm a good dad most of the time - I have my moments of impatience - but I'd still say that I rank somewhere in the top, oh, 30% of dads out there. But I generally parent in small bursts. Weekends and vacations give me the longest stretches of time to spend with my kids but unfortunately those don't come around often enough.

What I'm saying is that I don't have nearly as much practice as Beth with hardcore full-time parenting. And what I'm asking you is what the heck do I do with two kids for two days? This isn't a rhetorical question. I'm asking you for ideas. So hop to it. Please.

Posted by Chris at September 30, 2010 6:50 AM
Comments

Playground (adventure and normal), swimming, ball games in the park, hide & seek in the woods, nature walks to find little animals to keep in buckets, horseride/pony trek, seaside, picnic, indoor play area, museum (science or natural history), books, indoor games, electric car racing (little cars, not big ones, aka Scalectrix), colouring, painting, clay model making, cup/mug/bowl painting, handprinting, bouncy castle, obligatory trip to McDonalds, cinema/video/dvd marathon, baking cakes, hunt for something in the garden like chocolates, bicycle ride, garden centre to see plants and fish, aquarium, skipping competition, games in the street like hopscotch, ditch them with grandparents or friends, combined playdate with some other kids, anything messy involving glue, start making halloween decoration and decorate the house, paint a room a different colour and let the kids help (you can always straighten up after they've gone to bed), bar-b-q in the yard....

Should keep you all amused for 2 days.....

Posted by: ChocolateChip_Wookie at September 30, 2010 8:02 AM

These women have lots of good ideas. Some are ridiculously involved, but you might be able to find something fun: http://busysiblings.com/

Good luck, and remember: in long-term solo parenting situations, the measure of success is "are we all still alive?"

Posted by: Julie at September 30, 2010 8:02 AM

Color, draw, fingerpaint
Play pretty, pretty princess and handsome prince
Work together to make fun food for dinner (see http://littlenummies.net/ for specifics)
Watch Disney movies
Play fortress outside
Play fortress inside
Read books together
Play LEGOs together
Take them to a kid friendly movie and/or restaurant
Go to the bookstore
Call Beth every 5 minutes and leave silly messages
Go to a family member's house, crack open a beer, and say "yup, go crazy, have fun with them!"

Posted by: Poppy at September 30, 2010 8:04 AM

Seriously? Just do whatever you would do on a normal weekend but you'll just be minus one person. Unless you're aiming to have your kids begging for Beth to leave every weekend so you can do fun and exciting things.

Posted by: NancyJ at September 30, 2010 8:15 AM

do one thing every single day that they aren't regularly allowed to do.
Such as build a tent with blankets under the kitchen table, take all the cushions off the couch and let them jump from one to the other as much as they want, tv, popcorn, a cupcake liner filled with mm's way after bedtime. No nap...see my exception below.Non breakfast food for breakfast, declare it RED day and they can wear only Red, Interval Fun-we do what you want for 30 minutes then the next child, then you....ha. Go feed the birds or fish or whatever you can find.
Make cookies and then help them deliver a treat of three or four to all your neighbors in a sandwich bag.
Mostly I always just try to take them out of the ordinary and say YES YES YES...because so much of parenting is having to say no.
Most of all, declare Sunday afternoon mandatory nap time to clear everyone's head and get ready for mom to come back and for the school week.
Oh and stock up on beer. Sorry, that should have been first.

Posted by: speck at September 30, 2010 8:24 AM

I don't have any advice regarding what to do with your kids over the weekend (b/c I don't have children myself), but I do have advice regarding "your nuts". Don't kick them. Especially while wearing flip-flops. Yeah it might be funny b/c you got it to roll over your S/O's foot, but then you will be blessed with thorns that make your foot feel like it's on fire and then nice, red spots where the thorns had thrust into your foot. Don't make the same mistake I did. (NOTE: This happened on Sunday and I still have spots on my foot!!)

Posted by: Michelle at September 30, 2010 8:30 AM

Just play!!
Dont forget to bath and feed them and everything will be fantastic.

Posted by: steff at September 30, 2010 9:24 AM

Wish I could help. My own son (named Owen too) is only 4 months old. You'll survive, just make sure they are fed and don't hurt each other you'll be ok.

Posted by: Cornelia at September 30, 2010 9:40 AM

1. Make a list of all the cool, funky things you like to do with the kids, but Beth doesn't really approve of.

2. Do them.

Posted by: COD at September 30, 2010 9:54 AM

First off, don't panic ( they can smell fear ). The thing to remember is that they have a routine, and the more you deviate from it ( especially nap time; God help you if you deviate from nap time ) the more off kilter they'll be, which will result in you being more off kilter, and spiral away.

I think all the "go do all the wonderful things in the universe" advice is really kind of nice ideas, but also kind of useless. If you didn't already have plans to do all that kind of stuff ( and sounds like you guys pack in your weekends pretty full ) then odds are Thursday is a bit late. Also, given how scared you are of this, I'd keep it pretty tight to the vest. Take them places they like that you've gone to before that everyone knows the drill. Mom's are excellent at bringing order back in when it starts to get chaotic; Dad's usually don't know the trick ( especially with Owen's age ).

Your mission is thus:
1. Keep the kids relatively healthily fed. Although the expectation won't be too high, cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be punished appropriately.
2. Keep them clean. Scrub them down before Mom gets home.
3. Keep the house from exploding. Don't expect any brownie points for it, but make sure it looks a bit better than it did when she left.
4. Keep them relatively busy but not hectic, and don't plan on anything you can't walk away from within 30 seconds. Might also be a good weekend to max out on Scooby Doo.

And most importantly ( from your standpoint ) remember that this also means you are a lone wolf for a couple of days. No strippers, but it means that you can tackle some "guy time" guilt free. Time to download a movie or two that only you enjoy ( war movies and documentaries top my list when left to my own devices ).

Have fun!

Austin

Posted by: metawizard at September 30, 2010 10:04 AM

If you get into a tough spot, just ask yourself, "What would Beth do?"
Have fun, tell Beth to have fun and tell us all about it when you can! Oh yes, and we want pictures!

Posted by: Maribeth at September 30, 2010 10:26 AM

Honestly, I think if you do plan out the days they will go faster. You can always deviate based on their moods but it's nice to not have to think of ideas WHILE managing them.

I like to do one big thing each day and then make anything else small and "bonus". Like, go to the zoo but only for a few hours before coming home and chillaxing to tv or back-yard play.

Try and split some of the work by scheduling a play-date. Those rock.

Go see the grandparents (but still be the go-to guy with needs). Grandparents like visits and again it splits some of the work.

Play at the playground, bike ride, and definitely take them on a special date for dinner or just ice cream. I like the idea that my kids do something special when it's just the two or three of us. They remember that stuff.

Posted by: Brad at September 30, 2010 10:31 AM

Be horribly loud, play the music at top volume and sing along, dress up and dance, play, play, play, play. Then tumble into your bed together and NAP with Scooby Doo.

Then make them earn their keep and pick up nuts for an hour.

Posted by: k8 at September 30, 2010 11:16 AM

Whatever the kids want (within reason).

I work all week, like you, so when I'm at home with the kids by myself on a weekend, I'm usually running errands. We go to the car wash, the mall, the dog groomer. It's not very exciting. The library is always a go-to because they have a giant saltwater fish tank and colored lights on the floor that delight my son. The park, if the weather is nice; boots, raincoats, and puddles if it's not. Warm baths, snuggles by the fire, board games. I don't know; I'm kind of a boring mom.

Posted by: Brooke at September 30, 2010 11:37 AM

WHen my husband used to work on Saturday nights, I'd declare Fun Movie Night. My son could pick anything fun he wanted for dinner (he used to love fruit, string cheese, yogurt and toast - easy for me, fun for him) and then we'd watch a movie of his choice.

Other ideas:

Painting
Lego's
Pumpkin or apple picking or going to a place with a hay pile
baking cookies (letting them mix is messy but fun)
building a tent in your living room (two chairs and a blanket)

Hope these help :)
Jean

Posted by: Jean at September 30, 2010 11:42 AM

when i am at my wits end we usually end up rearranging their bedrooms - and they love it because they end up playing with toys that have been long lost under the bed. seriously, this has taken up a full day before.
and act confident. as soon as they see you wane you are done for.

Posted by: meanie at September 30, 2010 11:45 AM

How about a scenic drive to see the leaves changing?

My son's favorite thing to do with his Dad is going out to lunch and helping him with the groceries. They spend all afternoon together every Sunday and Harley has input into what we eat every week.

Think about what the kids might like to do and plan around them within reason.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at September 30, 2010 12:14 PM

Oh Chris. I heart you. This makes me laugh, especially as a single mom.

You've received a million and one ideas already. You'll be just fine. Just enjoy it - it will go fast, and Mia is at the age where she will remember it for years to come!

Posted by: Mindy at September 30, 2010 12:15 PM

this weekend? mud puddles. lots of them. get totally muddy and filthy. (not like you'll have a choice anyway...)

Posted by: magnolia at September 30, 2010 12:38 PM

My husbands idea of fun with the kids when I would go out of town was to sit around in their underwear all weekend eating chips in bed watching professional wrestling or other normally banned shows.

Posted by: Lisa at September 30, 2010 1:32 PM

Let them get dirty and eat unbalanced meals. My brother and I used to go camping with just our Dad, and the great fun of it was that we got to be different kids without someone fussing at us about the dirt on our knees or giving us vegatables all the time. We fished. We played in dirt. We rode bikes. He told us crazy stories. We made s'mores.

Oh, and you could watch a lot of Scooby-Dooby-Doo!

Posted by: Sandy at September 30, 2010 1:33 PM

KIDS CAN SMELL FEAR.

Be strong, cry a lot, and really, just teach them how to pray. I adore you, but I think they may need divine intervention. :)

Posted by: Mr Lady at September 30, 2010 2:32 PM

The library is always a good option - it's free and you end up with 10 or 12 new books that everybody's interested in...and then they get returned to the library when you're done with them so you don't have to read them a bazillion times over several months.

Stay busy in the morning with outings, then lunch, then nap/rest/reading time... then before you know it, it's time to start thinking about dinner, then baths then the day is over.

Posted by: Amy at September 30, 2010 2:35 PM

Scooby marathon. Beth hates Scooby, right?
Pizza.
Trip to store to procure new toy and/or art supplies to keep their attention for more than 5 minutes.
Bubble baths.
More Scooby.
Throw in some princess movies before bed.
Repeat.

Posted by: rebecca at September 30, 2010 2:56 PM

I'm doing the same thing to my husband (also a Chris) this weekend so I can go to Atlanta and watch the Falcons take on the 49ers…
Do everything that your wife doesn't enjoy doing with them…TV shows, games, foods…
It's supposed to be a cool weekend weather-wise, but warm enough to let them run around outside. See if there are any festivals or anything going on, take them to the farmers market, make up crazy new games…oh, and don't forget to feed them:)

Posted by: Beth at September 30, 2010 3:29 PM

Ummm... day care?

Posted by: NG at September 30, 2010 3:41 PM

Ice cream. Works for dogs, so it's got to work for kids, right?

Posted by: Heather at September 30, 2010 3:41 PM

scooby doo and kitchen dance parties. send them outside to pick up your nuts... um...

Posted by: kati at September 30, 2010 5:11 PM

Set up a tent (in or out) and watch movies in it after letting the kids buy snacks from the kitchen table with money earned from helping clean up. Make some Halloween decorations and start decorating for a surprise for mommy. Go to the airport and watch the planes come in. And don't forget to have something yummy you guys made for mommy's return.

Posted by: Tera at October 1, 2010 9:09 AM

I'm sure your kids will have some great ideas of what they want to do with you!

Happy Holidays Beth!

Posted by: Heather at October 1, 2010 10:21 AM

On my way home, I plan on stopping by the local Uhaul and buying a couple of their largest boxes. We're making castles this weekend.

Posted by: Rengirl at October 1, 2010 6:29 PM

Looks like you have so many great ideas already posted here.
My only suggestion is to have FUN with your kids and remember that you are making beautiful memories with them... whatever you decide to do.

And I like the idea about making nice stuff for Mommy's return, like yummy treats, or a HUGE welcomed home sign. This can shift focus for them if they start to get sad, missing her.

And relax...they CAN smell fear! lol

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Posted by: Tillman28Queen at November 3, 2010 9:10 PM


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