Besides the various camps the kids attend they really look forward to the abundance of free time summer affords them. I'm good with free time, they deserve to just be kids and lounge around playing video games, watch tv, immerse themselves in Lego or whatever it is they want to do. It's cool with me, so long as the entire day isn't spent infront of a screen or keeping me in the kitchen all day long.
There have been many days in the past that I have felt that my kids constant request for food has kept me in the kitchen. Whether its because i'm cooking them food, filing cups of milk/water, preparing a snack, cleaning up after a meal and/or snack or preparing dinner. It's tiring, frustrating and just plain rude to do that to me! The kids don't understand why I get frustrated when the minute I sit down (from cleaning up after them, after a meal) they ask me for something from the kitchen. Yes, it may have been a while since they ate or drank or whatever it was they did in the food preparation/eating area but for me it was mere minutes. They are kids, they don't get it but I was going to put an end to it this summer.
After coming across something on a blog or pinterest or something I decided to implement the "kitchen is closed" rule (for lack of a better word, i'll just say "rule"). So in my house it breaks down like this:
Everyday I round all three kiddos up for breakfast at the same time. Prior to them sitting down I make their cereal and have their spoons ready as they each come up milk is poured and they are seated in their spot at the table. The eat together, always, I really don't care how long or how short they take to eat but they are all fed at the same time and they are welcome to seconds or thirds, it doesn't matter to me. I just want these kids to be full. Typically they all finish up at the same time or within a 5-10 minute window. They clear their dishes to the sink. Normally I'll eat while the kids are eating too since I know i'll have uninterrupted time to just eat and collect my thoughts for the day. Once the kids are all out of the kitchen, I hang up signs on my fridge and pantry cabinet (which has a snack drawer) that looks like this:
Additionally I fill three large water bottles and leave them on the counter for the kids. I didn't think I could get my kids to buy into this "kitchen is closed" concept but they do, even my 3 1/2 year old. The first day was the hardest, especially for the baby. She would open the cabinet and help her self to a cereal bar or crackers and I would have to take it away and explain the rule. Yes this upset her but I teach via tough love and she just had to wait. Let me back up for a sec, prior to implementing this signage in my home I sat the kids down and explained what we were going to do and how it worked. Anyway, the sign goes up and we have a structure for the day the kids follow (which i'll share separately), and works pretty darn well, and they go about their morning. Occasionally one of the kids will mosey into the kitchen and check if the kitchen is "open." If the sign is still up sometimes they'll ask when it will open again and other times they just go back to doing whatever it was they were doing. During the time of the kitchen being closed the kids play and if they get thirsty they don't ask me for things from the fridge but rather just drink from their water bottles. Sometimes they'll take the bottles out with them other times they just leave them in the kitchen. It's totally up to them. After a couple of hours I'll take the sign down and call the kids for their morning snack. Some day's i'll prepare the snack for them and other days i'll let them choose from the snack drawer. I'm pretty lack with that and don't feel the need to be super controlling on their snacks. Normally they'll have 2 smallish items or one larger snack, the kids pick up after themselves and then the sign goes up. If I need to do any further clean up like sweeping or wiping down a table I do it immediately after the sign goes up and i'm outta the kitchen. We do this through out the day until dinner.
Anyway, I'm surprised just how well this "rule" has worked out. I don't feel like I'm trapped within my kitchen all day waiting on the kids. I know my boys are older and can fend for themselves in some regard but having it organized in this manner with three kids makes it so much easier on me. That's not to say the boys don't have any part in this. Sometimes in the mornings or at lunch they'll actually get the cereal together for all of them so I don't have to, or they help prepare the lunch but the process remains the same.
It seems funny to say I feel a bit more liberated. This system allows me some summer freedom, just like the kids! Whomever blogged about this or posted this on pintrest thank you so much! This is truly a fantastic system. I would have never thought posting a sign on my fridge would work so well.