Keeping Busy

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Categories Activities, How Do The Moms Do It, School-AgeTags , , , , 1 Comment

J in her blue sequined tap costume.One of our end-of-year rights of passage is my daughters’ dance recital. They and their classmates have worked hard all year to earn the right to strut their stuff in adorable matching costumes. While fall dance lessons are all about fun, discipline and technique, spring lessons are a painstaking journey to perfecting recital numbers. In this, their third, year of dance lessons, the M and J’s class performed two pieces: one tap and one ballet.

I served as a “stage mom,” one of two mothers who hangs out backstage with the whole class of children for the entirety of the performance. Being the mother of a sixth to a quarter of the class, there’s a sense of obligation to fill this role. Our girls had a piece to perform before intermission, another after, and were expected to remain backstage to make a grand appearance at curtain call. We got to the performance space (late) at 6:30 pm and didn’t get home until 10:30.

M in her blue sequined ballet costume.For nearly 4 hours, the other stage mom and I needed to find a way to keep our herd of 11 6- and 7-year-olds under control and ready to perform in a room shared with at least 5 other classes worth of young children. Due to an unfortunate incident last year involving green room walls and crayons, this year stickers, crayons and markers were banned from the premises, so we needed to get creative.

I’m pleased to report that our group stayed pretty focused, although they did start to get a little rowdy towards the end. It was my fault. I got complacent and didn’t offer up a new activity early enough and let the ones we had out get stale.

So, what works to keep 11 first grade girls (plus 5-15 adoptees from other groups) occupied for several hours in a confined space? I came prepared.

  • Photo Credit: nic0
    Photo Credit: nic0

    Beading. I put out a big bin of all sorts of beads, made sure each child had a good length of string, and let them go to town. It would have been better if I had brought scissors to cut the string, but I used my Amazing Mommy Teeth to good effect. I think these beads bought us nearly an hour of peace.

  • Color Wonder markers and colouring books. Yes, we’d been told to steer away from colouring activities, but this ink dries clear everywhere but on specially treated paper, so it seemed a safe bet. This was especially handy for the younger children nearby. One 4-year-old, in particular, was committed to escaping the room until we were able to distract her with markers.
  • Photo Credit: giveawayboy
    Photo Credit: giveawayboy

    My jigsaw puzzles were a big flop. We only have 100, 150 and 500 piece puzzles at our house, and the other kids felt that the 100 piece ones were beyond their capacity. Live and learn.

  • Card games. Two rounds of Uno with 9 people was a blast! Even better, our card games filled the dead time between the girls’ second dance and curtain call.
  • Movies. A kind mom furnished us with a portable DVD player and a number of movies, and I brought additional DVDs with me. We ended up not using this as a distraction, but I was glad to know that we had it available in a pinch.
  • Books. It ended up being far too loud in the room for story time.
  • Board(ish) games. I brought Battleship and Connect 4 with me, but that would have entertained only 4 at a time, leaving me with 7 other girls to entertain. Granted, 1 or 2 were on bathroom or water break at any given time, but we still needed larger group activities.

I need ideas for next year.

How best to keep a bunch of elementary school ballerinas busy?

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Thank God for Messy Faces

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Categories Behavior, Feeding, SafetyTags 4 Comments

On those days when you don’t have enough eyes to watch all your children or enough arms to keep them all out of trouble.  When you are too tired or distracted or busy to be giving everyone all the attention they need….

When you have a 3 year old who decides he doesn’t like cheese, which he usually loves.  When he decides he has to throw his cheese and the rest of his lunch in the garbage. When you decide that he needs a time out to think about this.  When you decide that he really needs to spend a few minutes in his room. When he’s practically hysterical, all because of the cheese you served him for lunch. When you’re busy comforting him and trying to figure out why cheese is suddenly so unpopular. When you realize you’ve been upstairs dealing with this crisis while your 11-month old twins are all alone downstairs in the kitchen.  When you realize how long you’ve left them unsupervised.  When you start to get worried about what you’ll find when you get back to them.  When you arrive to see this…

Helping myself Feeding myself

Or when your talking on the phone with the real estate agent.  When you’re trying to figure out the details of offers to buy and mortgages. When you turn away for a minute to write something down.  When you finally put down the phone. When you suddenly notice it has gotten very quiet.  When you look up to see this…


… and nothing worse. You have to laugh and thank god for messy faces because obviously someone is looking out for you and your children.

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