There are some questions that I am dreading passing the lips of my children.
"How do babies get into their Mummy's tummy?"
"What does f**k mean?"
"Is the Tooth Fairy real?"
"Where have all my Haribos gone?"
There will be others that I haven't thought of that will floor me, render me speechless, grasping for an age appropriate response that doesn't then beg another question in reply, thus leading to a confusing tale of storks, gymnastics and thieving elves.
But one question that keeps being asked to the point that the Wee One, whose speech is coming along leaps and bounds, can repeat perfectly, is "What are we doing today, Mummy?"
*mutters "Well I know what Mummy would like to do today."*
"Playing." A simple one word response is deemed inadequate.
"Entertaining yourself." Progress. A two word response. Also deemed inadequate.
"Making an 'I'm Bored' jar." More words. Worthy of a little consideration this time. However this requires me helping and frankly I've got stuff I need to do.
Obviously I have stuff I would like to do (see first answer) but there is lots of stuff that NEEDS to be done, like cleaning, cooking, paying bills, repairing broken (by children) things, fixing stuff, dog walking, researching for (it may happen one day) project, tidying. My list is very long and there aren't enough hours in the day to do it all, especially when there are three children at home who have forgotten how to play.
There are snatches of time when they do play together, I hear the Big One issuing instructions, I hear the Princess challenging her role and the Wee One not doing exactly what he was told. A bit of a discussion ensues and assuming everyone has compromised and concluded that their role is satisfactory, play begins.
It is probably my fault for directing them too much, giving in when they say they have nothing to do and offering up suggestions (hardly any of which are taken mind you). I should just ignore them and let them work it out themselves, carry on flicking the duster around and wait for them to get bored of saying 'I'm bored' and go and find something to do.
I could spend hours with them, just playing, reading, helping, but I simply do not have time or patience so they have to remember how to entertain themselves. I can do it. I can entertain myself for hours (given the opportunity) so why can't they? Or I could spend a small fortune on activities for them to fill the hours of every single day but who has the budget for that?
I remember my own school holidays and they were filled with games, reading, a bit of TV, bike riding, den building, playing with friends but very few days out. I don't honestly remember my Mum playing with us. She may have, and I've forgotten, or she may not have and *gasp* we played by ourselves. We had a holiday but outside of that we were at home and largely entertained ourselves.
So in the 2 weeks remaining of the summer holiday, one will hopefully be spent away together, but one will be at home with a couple of play dates thrown in. The I'm Bored jar has dust on it (I haven't had time to do the cleaning because they want entertaining instead) so they need to entertain themselves preferably without killing each other.
So how can I educate them to play by themselves? Am I neglecting them by not providing entertainment for each waking hour of the day? All suggestions welcome.