Tips for peace & quiet... from a mother of 5.
Words by Julie Le Cornu
Tips For Peace & QuietTip 1
When travelling on long drives, at some point the squabbles start in the back of the car. We used to look for a dirt side road, and drive down a few hundred meters to let the children out for a run. Letting them use energy physically rather than verbally is a wonderful quick release and often buys you peace for some time in the car after.
You don’t always have the right amount of food for the number of mouths you are feeding. This is especially important when sharing sweets. A very simple and affective rule in my house when I grew up was that the older sibling broke the chocolate bar in half, and the younger one selected. I cannot explain to you the accuracy I still possess in breaking a mars bar in almost perfect halves.
When a new baby appears on the scene, and you have a toddler to 3 year old, jealousy is often trying to rear it’s head. I used feeding time for baby as a time to read a book to the toddler. That way they did not feel excluded.
In summer when I had five children home from school and kindergarten, all running around the house, I often gave them all an ice-block. My rule was that they HAD to eat this outside. What fascinated me was that once they were outside, they usually stayed out there playing for hours. It was an excellent way to get them away from the television.
Shopping for food in my house became a family chore. Probably once a month I would go to the supermarkets and buy big. Sometimes with the kids, (when they may even have a trolley each), but sometimes just before I picked them up from school. Our rule was that everyone had to help unpack the car and put the food away. The older ones tended to unpack the car, and the younger ones help unpack bags for the pantry. The incentive for them though, was that as they unpacked, and saw the selection, they were each allowed to choose one special thing to eat at the end. I smile as I remember them discussing whether they wanted a chocolate biscuits, a packet of chips or an ice-cream.
In the holidays, one of our favourite things to do at home was to make home made play dough. Now I had 5 children, so I would set the oldest one to help the youngest, and the second oldest to help the second to youngest. Each child had their own ice cream container and stirred in the ingredients, helping to measure them as well if they were old enough. Each child had a different colour. Once they were all made, we shared the play dough and they would use this for ages, storing it later in the containers they started off with.
Another thing they enjoyed doing, of all things, was making schnitzel. I would have 3 children, one with a bowl of flour, one with eggs, and one with bread crumbs. We would have a mass production line going, with me cooking them at the end. It seemed to work for us!
Some Friday nights we would set the kids up for movie night. We had a television in our bedroom. The older ones would be on the floor in their sleeping bags, with the younger ones either in bed with us or on the floor next to us when they fell asleep. They all slept in our room overnight, a bit like camping, except the parents were in the comfort of a real bed!
My favourite tip of all however, revolved around child number 4. For some reason, whenever we went to a busy place such as the Royal Show or a Theme park, we quite simply lost her. Unfortunately for us, number 4 would hide as she felt the eyes of the world on her. We lost her three times in one day at movie world, finding her the last time hiding behind a clothes rack. It was at that point that I hit upon the wonderful idea of buying her a helium balloon on entry. She would select the balloon she wanted, and we would attach it to her wrist. Then, when in the crowd I could easily find her! We never lost her again once we bought balloons!