Going away with kids is a lot of work. When my kids were little I developed a rule: 1 day stay for every hour in the car. Meaning if it took us 2 hours to get there, we were staying 2 days. It was a loose rule, but one I used as a planning guide. Jeannine on the other hand has no such fears. She packs up her kids and heads out with seemingly little care or worry. (Probably because she's way more organized than me).
This month she's going to share how she keeps her little ones occupied while they are away at their family cottage. Being a mom of 5, she knows how to keep everyone having fun, while keeping her own sanity.
How to Survive a Cottage Weekend with Wee Ones
By Jeannine Spurrell
I am lucky enough that my parents started to build a cottage when I was around 10 years old. We spent many weekends there when I was growing up as well as our summer holidays. I feel very blessed that my parents have basically an open door policy for my siblings and I and our children to spend time at the cottage as well.
The first weekend marking cottage season for my family is probably the same as the majority of cottage owners in Ontario – Victoria Day weekend. It is a hit and miss weather-wise but as many of us that can make it, do. This year, the weather was so nice that I swear every mosquito in the Quinte area was hanging out on our deck! My usual rule is if it isn`t raining, then you are outdoors but with a son allergic to mosquitoes, I also have to be prepared in keeping the kidlets entertained with minimal outdoor exposure to mosquitoes if needed.
I usually drive at night and the kids go to bed as soon as we get there. First thing in the morning, we get up, have breakfast and I take the kids outside and just let them run! Run around the yard, run around the empty lot next door, or sometimes I walk them down to the park and boat launch and let them run there. The one major rule we have is that they are not allowed to go anywhere near the water without an adult!
We have a small kids play tent which we set up out on the deck so a little shade is available for them to play in out of the sun. If we go to the beach, we also take this little tent in case any of them want to be out of the sun or want to have a little nap. We also have an old school tent which we put over a sandbox which Poppa has rigged into a kiddie pool once the really hot weather comes (end of July) to allow them to cool off while up on the deck.
We do have a toy bin which we leave there which is full of little cars and plastic action figures. This year I saved a bunch of unopened McDonald`s toys (which happened to be Angry Birds) for all the kids and they were a hit. It kept them occupied for a couple of hours! These toys get left behind in the toy bin for next time.
Once the mosquitoes come out, we move indoors, and if they are lucky enough, they can talk Poppa into laying down and watching a movie with them. Or Have Great-Gramma play tic-tac-toe.
Sometimes, you get to listen to music with your older sister on her headphones.
And sometimes all you need is an empty lot full of wish flowers (aka dandelions).