Enough already with the ark jokes — yes, we’ve had a helluva lot of rain this fall, and while it’s pulled Western North Carolina out of a five-plus year drought, it’s also caused some problems, including drowned crops, floods, wet basements and hyper kids.
I don’t want to diminish the losses to area apple growers or damage caused to homes and businesses by flooding. But I do need some help working the sillies out of my kids, who’ve been cooped up, both at home and school, for way too many stormy hours.
Yes, there are screens — TV, computer and handheld video. Yes, there are books and board games and art supplies. All of the above can keep my two entertained for hours. However, we have screen time rules (an hour per day), and the other activities are fairly sedentary.
Kids need exercise to burn off that excess energy. If only I could siphon off some of it, bottle it, and drink a bit every afternoon around four o’clock. Because, of course, the time that I’m at my low point each day seems to be the hour my kids hit warp drive. My kids sleep better, eat better and most importantly, act better, if they get a daily dose of exercise.
I have yet to resort to my friend Matt’s high-energy indoor soccer games for his four kids — not much floor space in my house and too many breakables. But I have discovered some ways for my two to burn it off during bad weather.
• Dance party: Turn up the music and rock. Luckily, my kids now like some of “my” music (U2, REM, Avett Brothers), so I no longer have to listen to “kid-friendly” musak. If your kids are still there, I recommend Asheville-residents Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and Billy Jonas for dance party sounds. Encourage kids to do hip-hop moves — surefire energy burners. Work it out, babies!
• Play with the dog: Tug of war, puppy wrassling, chase and ball play can wear out both kids and our Dorkie poo mutt. The challenge is to keep kids from throwing a tennis ball higher than knee level inside (good luck with that). Downside: the kids get bored before the Biscuit does, often necessitating parent-puppy playtime.
• Monster: Wrestling matches on our queen-sized bed involving lots of growls, grunts, and boy noises. Daddy, boy and dog love this game. Downsides: Mama’s too old and tired for wrassling, and the girl’s getting too eye-rollingly mature. Plus, boys (and by boys I’m including one adult here) have broken a lamp, a glass photo frame and turned over several bedside glasses of water — all in the past month of rains.
• Hide and seek: A great game for kids once they’re 4 or 5-years-old and older. I learned the hard way not to teach hide and seek to a three-year-old when my girl hid inside a rack of clothes at a department store. About one minute into my “I’ve lost my kid” panic, I heard a muffled giggle at knee level.
• Plays: Let kids write, practice and perform their own plays. This can keep a gaggle of elementary-school-aged kids occupied for a long time. Downsides include Mama spending lots of time helping with costumes and set designs. Also, set design always seems to require rearrangement of most of the furniture in the house.
• Cooking and cleaning: Our boy doesn’t mind vacuuming if he can listen to loud music at the same time and use the vacuum hose attachment as a pretend light saber. I wonder if a cleanish floor is worth his resultant hearing loss. Yes, I think it is. Lots of kids also like to help cook, but mine aren’t quite to the level of cleaning the kitchen after there’s been a batter explosion. From an energy burn standpoint, make something that needs to be kneaded. Playing with dough is fun.
So, that’s my current repertoire. Got other ideas for rainy day house arrest? I’d love to hear them.
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.