Full House

Today was quite a day at our house. Of course, my two usual full-time Teachers' Tots kids were here. And so were the three sisters I generally watch only after school three days a week; they didn't have school today so I'd known since August they'd be here all day. And I'd planned accordingly, deciding right then that I'd give Rachel and Abbie today off, too. After all, trying to do any regular lessons would be futile with a houseful of playmates.

And then on Monday I got a call from the mom of the brother and sister I typically watch just one afternoon a month. Could I have them over on Wednesday afternoon, from the time of their early-release until about 2:00? Now, to that request, I would have said yes on any day, both because those particular kids are wonderful and because we could have easily arranged to be done with school by noon had it been a regular day. And so I happily welcomed them into the fray, even as I realized that would mean managing nine of the ten kids (counting Rachel and Abbie) that I ever take care of. In fact, I wished I could have arranged for the other little guy to be here to complete the picture!

Not that we had a free-for-all. To the contrary, I created a special "school-aged care holiday schedule" - modified (for our situation and to include the toddlers) from one I found at one of my favorite websites, Pamm's House – and scoured my resources for Thanksgiving-related crafts and games. I balanced structured activities with free time - but I wrote up a list of possible free time activities to give guidance if needed. And I sent all the older kids outside after lunch, where they burned off excess energy while giving each other good, old-fashioned face washes in the remnants of Monday's snow.

And it worked out. I couldn't do it every day - unless, of course, all these children were my own and I were homeschooling them all, in which case I'd merely be in good company with so many others who admirably educate large families at home. But I was glad for the opportunity to have (almost) all of them here at one time for what was undoubtedly a once-a-year experience.

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