Feb 21, 2012

How To Plan Your Free Time

Yesterday was a "free day".  I actually had zero planned.  Nothing on my plate.  Freedom.  I love it.  To me, freedom means getting to read whenever and as along as you like where ever you like.  It means long walks, long talks, eating a happy snack whenever you're hungry.  Sipping tea by the fireplace.   Apparently, my image of free time and Chloe's are drastically different.

Not only did I have a free day yesterday.  So did the kids.  They were off for President's Day.  I just love it when they have a day off.  It means we get to spend so much time together and just enjoy each other's company. I was giddy with anticipation of a relaxing, free day off.

However, at breakfast, Chloe presented us with her LIST for our day off.  Seriously?  We have to plan our day off?  We can't just aimlessly sit around eating and reading?  Nope.  We must be organized and have a plan.  We must know what to expect and when.  I get that.  I did that for years when the kids were babies and toddlers and we lived and breathed by the nap schedule.  But now we don't have to.  We are free.  We all communicate with words and can even make our own food.  Life is good at this stage of the game.

Chloe would prefer some order to her day though, so me and boys accommodated her.  Thankfully, she allowed us a vote on what we all wanted to do and in what order.  Our first order of business for the day was me getting last night's dishes done.  Once that was out of the way, we were free to play Nertz.

Just a side note here.  Another benefit of older children is that the games we get to play with them now...we actually like.  No more Chutes and Ladders my friend.  No more Trouble or Candy Land.  We're doing fun stuff like Ticket To Ride, Qwelf, and best of all Nertz.  Nertz is my all time favorite card game.  It's very fast paced and requires a lot of multi-tasking and I love it almost as much as Michael Jordan.  I own the Nertz table.  I rule. It is my domain (if I may be so humble - there are only like 2 things in this life that I'm actually good at and this is one of them).  Chuck asked me the other day, "Do you think the kids are ready to learn nertz?"  They think we let them in on an adults-only club.  They feel big, empowered.  They now know the game.  Now that I have more challengers other than Chuck in the house, I am a happy camper.  The game just took on new depths.  This is a good day in our household. The children have reached 'The Age Of Bonafide Nertz Players'.

Needless to say, Nertz was a fun as we all thought it would be.  Then it was on to our next great activity.  We have these art books called, "Draw, Write, Now" and they teach you how to draw very simply.  We each picked a book and went to town.  Some people follow the steps to a tee (Chloe), others think way outside of the box and use the picture as an 'idea' (Gavin) and still others enjoy the story behind the picture (Bennett) more than the actual art - it must have meaning or why draw it.  I tend to fall into the last category with Bennett.  I also really enjoy the coloring of my picture.  I still have some colored pencils left over from college (obviously I didn't do alot of coloring while in college - in my art classes, not for fun).  I'm, shall we say, a wee-bit possessive of these pencils.  They have very soft led (good for blending) and they were very expensive (thus why I monitor their use ever so closely).   Somedays I'm in a generous mood, other's, not so much.  Yesterday was one of the days I didn't feel like sharing my colored pencils with people who would abuse them and color them down to the nub (you've got to have boundaries).  Bennett did a better example of sharing than did his mother.

Chloe was generous enough to allow each of us to choose what we would like to do on our own.  This was not her original idea - I have to admit, I coaxed her into this one.  She might be able to spend 24/7 with people, but I can't.  I need space, quiet time.  So, for a glorious hour and a half, I was finally able to plop myself down in front of the fire with a cup of hot tea and a good book.  Ahhhhhh!  Chloe enjoyed some time learning how to play by herself in her room (I had to keep reminding her that she wasn't in trouble - this was a good/relaxing thing to do.   I explained how she needs to learn to be okay with alone time, to process what she's learning, to think, be creative, read - I don't think she bought it.).  The boys decided to go outside to play in the woods (in the 30 degree temps!).

Remember 'The North Pole'.  Well, the treaty has been signed and boundaries have been set.   Bennett was not going to be outdone.  Two can play this game.  So he set up 'The South Pole' (minus a signed treaty) directly next to The North Pole.  Gavin texted me about an hour into their playtime:  I love you, Mom.  Bennett and I have a new motto:  adventurers never come prepared.   Chloe already has plans in the works for either an 'Equator' (if the space is between the boys) or 'Siberia' depending on where her space is located.  They plan on doing some serious fort building after school today.

Thus our wonderful Private Time came to an end which ushered us into the next phase of our plan, "The Lego Building Challenge".  The multiple, color-coded bins of legos where strewn hap-hazardly  across the family room floor.  Grooveshark (an online music streaming site) was blaring.  Serious creativity was in full progress.  We created for a good hour.  Very fun.  Daddy was the judge on the best project.  Bennett won, I came in second.

Lo and behold, it was getting close to dinner time.  Since we've done everything together today, why not cook dinner together.  So the crew and I broke out the ingredients and the aprons and started cooking.  They even admitted that dinner was better having had a hand in making it.  Pride in a job well done!

Watch out summer break - we've got a plan for you!  And Chloe is in charge of writing it all down.

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