I have a lot on my plate with a job or two, three kids and a uni degree.
As a result, I always try and get my work done while the kids are at school so that when the bus pulls up, I am all theirs.
This rarely happens.
What normally happens is I stuff around until mid-morning, finally start working and by the time the bus pulls up I am panicking over something I forgot to do. The kids walk in and start asking for food, water, affection and attention, which can be incredibly inconvenient to a mum who has missed a deadline and still hasn’t washed last night’s dinner dishes.
I’ve had to become a bit of an expert at buying myself some time and hiding the fact that it’s neglect.
Enter: the carpet picnic.
On days I know I am still going to be working or cleaning or distracted when the kids get home, I set up the after school snack of a lifetime in the form of a carpet picnic in front of the TV. The kids come crashing through the door, dropping things as they go, and after we exchange greetings, they begin feeding.
I have as long as it takes for them to eat to finish urgent work. On a good day I get to join them when there is still food left. Children are always so hungry after school.
The great thing about the carpet picnic is that it makes the children feel special and treasured because I have gone to so much trouble to set it up for them. In reality, it’s very little work. I just put things in plates and bowls, make sure all the foods are cut and washed, and that’s it.
Who loves you, kids?
They’ve come to expect a particular food combination from the carpet picnic. It didn’t take long for them to develop expectations. They like carrot sticks, cut cucumbers, cheese wedges, olives, two kinds of crackers, popcorn, water bottles and individual plates.