The challenge for me this holiday was to include fun activities for my BLT while increasing body strength and also sticking to the "rules" of Dr Aron - no swimming (easy because it's freezing cold here) no playing on grass and sweating was to be kept to a minimum. Also the rationing of colourants, preservatives and junk food was not an easy task for a 9 year old, but we try. I started off by drawing up a "wish list" (as us A-types like to do) of potential holiday activities. When I asked B, L and T what they wanted to do the most, they all agreed that going to the rides and playing the arcade games at our local entertainment complex, was the definite winner. I wasn't too keen because that would include almost no activity, but I wrote it down, begrudgingly.
For the first week the girls attended a holiday club arranged by one of the local churches. This was a bit of an eye-opener because I have such fond memories of going to clubs like this when I was growing up, but boy have they changed and not for the better! Each day was making a craft (how lovely - wrong!) the craft was a weapon for battle of their soul against Satan. These crafts ranged from making armour to swords and my personal favourite the "death by cross-bow" craft! The girls were petrified the first day when they were put into a room, the lights were turned off and they were told that they were in a dungeon. The idea apparently was to "come out of the dark" and find "the light of God." Hmmm well this had the quite the opposite effect with my two and I spent a lot of time explaining that they were born from love not evil (as they had been told at the club.) I also had to explain that it was not true that if they didn't "give themselves to God" they were going "straight to hell!" Needless to say we won't be going back there! I'm not sure what the church was trying to achieve with this method, but I honestly think biscuits, Oros, a few fun parables, bible stories and signing Kumbaya, would have gleaned more positive results.
On one of the first afternoons of the holiday, our home was like a mad house. Plumbers were busy replacing our geyser thermostat and I was deflecting an excited 3 year old away from the ladder that led up to the unexplored darkness in the ceiling. I sent him outside to play while I started making lunch (without water as it had been turned off while the plumbers worked). I asked Tomato for the umpteenth time to clean Peanut (her cockatiel's) cage. Usually we just slip out the tray and replace the paper but it needed a more thorough cleaning and she was loathe to comply. She was grumpy and stomping around wailing that nobody was helping her, when Lettuce arrived inside covered in paint from head to toe. I quickly stripped him and sent him upstairs to change, and started boiling the kettle to get hot water to rinse the paint off as. This proved to a worthless effort as the paint wouldn't budge. I then went in search of the source - the paint! I found a litre tin that was left behind by some contractors that we had used a few weeks before. It never occurred to me that they would leave any paint behind. #epicfail. I picked up the can of paint and quickly stashed it into the deep outside basin, out of reach of inquisitive little hands and went back to the boiling kettle and the half-made lunch. Tomato was continuing her rant. She hadn't been able to get the tap on outside and was sobbing that she was so tired and that her life was so horrible. I
We then heard "thud" and a strange high-pitched scream from Tomato! We all rushed to see what was wrong. While taking the paint can out of the basin to make place for her bird-cage soak, she grumpily decided to just throw it down on the cobbles to get it out of her way instead of putting it down nicely. When she did this of course, it burst open sending paint flying in all directions. The scream was due more to the horror of her anticipated punishment than what had actually happened. I actually became so calm that it was scary (even to me). I instantly dished out her punishment of no TV for the entire holiday, as I started to hose down the paint. Tomatoe ran sobbing inside. No such luck for her! I called her to get a wire broom and start scrubbing. We continued for over an hour until most of the paint had been washed away, taking turns to scrub and brush the floor and walls where it had splashed. So a light activity birdcage change that shouldn't have taken more than 10 minutes became almost 2 hours of hard labour. I pictured the 3 weeks of holiday looming in front of me like a prison sentence and dreaded what was to come. On the bright side, the activity had been strength-building and Hubby also had a good workout scrubbing with us!
Then I got thinking about the list we had drawn up..... the most exciting thing is to play games and go on rides..... these games and rides take tokens..... so my idea was born. They were going to earn their treat. Good behaviour = 1 token. The better they behaved, the more games and rides they could go on. First I got them to decorate their own glass jar with as much bling as they could smear onto it. Once the jars were complete, they were given the task of making tokens in any shape or form. That night we had a family meeting around the dining room table (so cute!) Hubby and I explained that they could earn tokens and they loved the idea!
- Get up, dressed, make bed, brush teeth and hair and have breakfast, leaving the kitchen tidy = 1 token
- Bathing when asked and tidying their room, packing away clothes etc = 1 token
- Eating dinner nicely, clearing up afterwards and going to bed without drama = 1 token
- Being kind
- Helping when asked
- Helping without being asked
- Getting along with their siblings and not fighting
|Pandaleen sleeping on a cereal box|
|Spring cleaning in winter|
|Playing in the dam|
We spent time with Mema, walking along the river she lives on and feeding the ducks, we baked, read bedtime stories and watched concerts with B, L and T as the star performers and had sing-a-longs. The girls went on play dates with their friends and we went to a restaurant with a play area to celebrate Bacon's birthday (again) because we couldn't go out on the night of her birthday due to the weather. We pretended to have load shedding (power blackout) as we don't have them as often as my BLT would like and they LOVE eating dinner by candle light. Yes I'm sure our neighbours think we are stark raving mad, but we don't care!
But always with fun, comes drama and if you've learned anything about my life, we are drama magnets! Each child had their own particular drama. We've discussed the paint incident with Tomato but Bacon (shame) had a mini-drama that made her so sad. I had taken B, L and T for their back-to-school haircuts a week before, to avoid the mayhem of the last minute weekend rush. Their hair all looked lovely and both girls had their hair clipped back with fancy clips. The next day Bacon was in tears because her hair was "funny" and true enough it WAS funny! The one side was much longer than the other and she was so upset. I took her back and a different hairdresser was on duty and said "even a blind man could see this is wrong" which made me laugh but Bacon was mortified! Once her hair had been evened out, she was even more upset because her hair was much shorter than she had wanted and couldn't fit into a ponytail anymore. Nothing that a lollipop, a balloon and a trip to the ice-rink couldn't fix!
|Lettuce fast asleep under the bed!|
Anyhoo, apart from the paint, hair and head issues, we had an amazing holiday. I see it as a "back to basics" holiday as the TV couldn't have been on for more than 4 hours the entire holiday and we had good, clean, old-school-type fun. Every night they crashed into bed and slept like babies because they were worn out! When we eventually got to spend the tokens, they enjoyed the outing so much more than before, knowing that they had earned their rewards and when we got home they begged to continue the token awards so that they could earn more while at school. I agreed.
This simple reward system has had a fabulously positive effect on our lives and family interactions. Please feel free to copy my idea and bring some peace to your home or a friend who could benefit. I was so sad when the holidays ended. Not only do I have to return to the 5.30am alarm clock, homework, extra murals etc, I really really miss my BLT!