Some of my most memorable childhood moments include my cousins. So when the opportunity arose for me to keep my nieces and nephews from Wednesday to Saturday so their mom could go on a retreat, I jumped on board! Cousins’ Weekend!! If you’re considering hosting a cousins’ weekend or something similar, maybe some of what we did will be helpful to you.
A bit of background: on my husband’s side, there are 8 cousins-all in one family. Their bottom 5 are the same age as our 5 children. Do the math: 5+8=13. Their ages range from 7-21. Of course, some of them don’t need “sitters” anymore, but still need a place to eat and gather…Regardless, I had 10 kids total at my house (full time) with a couple others part of the time. I’ve survived to write this down, so there’s evidence all ended well. 😉 Here’s how it went. (*aaa-choo!)
*To begin with, I tried to clear out any extra appointments that were planned. i.e. haircuts, doctor check ups, piano lessons. I have found that keeping a routine works best with kiddos. They thrive on regular consistency. Thankfully, our two families parent pretty similarly, so the kids knew what to expect.
*No matter how late they stay up the night before, when cousins are together, they will still wake up at the crack of dawn. These cousins were no exception! Up by 7 a.m. The only rule was “Aunt Moma’s” room is off limits for at least 30 minutes.
*Then breakfast: Keep it simple! Cereal, instant oatmeal; I kept it to things that they could handle without much help. (*uhh, what’s that tickle in my throat?)
*Personal hygiene (lots of pre-teens and teenagers in this group), brush teeth, wash face, deodorant. Do outside chores. Gather eggs, water chickens, feed Half Dead Fred, make sure hungry cat and dog are fed. Hmmm, they’re done and it’s only 7:45…
*Since both our families homeschool, I did make them all do a bit of schoolwork. We kept it to the basics: math, reading, co-op assignments. It felt like a little one-room schoolhouse with all the different ages involved. (*why’s my skin hurting?)
*By the time that was all done, it was only 10:30…SNACK TIME & RECESS!!
*We do have a [amazon_textlink asin=’B00PCGHB4A’ text=’trampoline’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’besidethecreek-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b344b01b-fef3-11e6-a874-877e8c97e2cb’] and an X-box that came in handy. They all took turns doing various games and jumping.
*Lunch time approached and I heard, “I want to help make the sandwiches, Aunt Monica”. Music to my ears 😉 I highly recommend [amazon_textlink asin=’B0041MQ43U’ text=’paper plates’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’besidethecreek-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’877a361c-fef3-11e6-a355-f9c608252a30′] and sharpies. Makes life sooo much simpler. (*cough, cough)
*I decided up front that it would be good to have something “fun” for the kids to look forward to each afternoon. It really helps in the “mommy withdrawals”.
Day 1: Field Trip to where Uncle Pete works. 🙂 Thankfully, this was just down the road a bit and the older kids stayed with PawPaw, who lives nearby, to make room in the car for the others. While we were there, we did a Nature Study on cattle.
Day 2: Hike and picnic to one of the favorite spots on our farm. All the kids started a fort up there several years ago and we like to go periodically to check on it or add “rooms”.
Day 3: Local family festival. One of our sweet friends got extra credit for a college class for every person she brought. There was a bouncy house, mechanical bull, crafts, music. Way too many people for my husband’s liking, so they left and got ice cream.
*By the time the activity was done, it was feeding time for the horses. I put in a movie, or gave more “device” time for about an hour to just let everyone chill while I fixed supper. Which, by the way, I already had planned. So much easier when you at least have a plan. Be flexible, it might change 😉 By now, all the Daddy’s, Uncles, older siblings, along with the PawPaw, were here for supper. Shortcut: Buy pizza one night. K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, silly) (*ewww, my head is pounding)
*Again, with so many extra hands around, there was no shortage of help for clean up, so ‘Snap’ and it was done! Guess what? There was time left for the ‘Big’ cousins to jump on the trampoline with the younger ones. According to the kids, this was THE highlight of the weekend. (*oh my, I need to sit down)
*One night we did an older kid movie while the younger ones played upstairs. Bath and showers for 10 kids always takes up time, just make sure you have clean [amazon_textlink asin=’B00GQP0XTQ’ text=’towels’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’besidethecreek-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d945ffe8-fef3-11e6-84e6-2b3928116165′]…BEDTIME! (*Sorry kids, no story tonight, I’ve lost my voice)
The weekend was not only fun, but also beneficial. What I mean is, it stretched all the kiddos. They had to learn to share not only their space and privacy with others, but also their parents for more than one day. All of them chipped in to help each other with relatively happy hearts. 😉 They had to step out of their comfort zones, (which is good for all of us every now and then). Some had to sleep on floors, share beds and blankets, but Lord willing, it taught them to give of themselves. (*is it cold in here or is it just me?)
Before I knew it, Saturday night arrived and it was time for the cousins to head to their house. With sunburnt cheeks, backpacks filled, minds full of new memories, we said our goodbyes.
I went to bed….I had the FLU.