Monday, February 02, 2009

How to survive a nine-day silent retreat

Or, rather, how to survive a nine-day silent retreat if you're the one left at home with three small kids. Three tips:Get extra sleep. Favor naps over housework, if you can.
  • Keep the meals simple. I made hot dogs, rice with vegetables, leftovers (black bean soup), ravioli...and I cheated by eating over at the Catholic Worker a few nights, and going out to eat one night.
  • Minimize your expectations: Aim low in the housecleaning department and you can't miss.
  • Call on friends. We had a great support network of folks offering to babysit and help out.
  • Have a plan to structure kids' down time.
  • Keep it all in perspective. Millions of single, working moms do this every day -- not to mention the millions of families around the world in even worse situations. (Of course, no one wants to be them, but still....)
As I write this, the kids are preparing a giant surprise party for S for when she comes home tomorrow afternoon. So far it has involved stringing streamers all over the place and setting up a race course, although M has a very detailed list that she's written up that includes "Queen cha
ir (for mom), tiara (mom), music (Mozart), practice dance show" and some other things I can't remember. She also wrote on there: "Practice makes perfect!"

Our best day was definitely Saturday, when I took the kids (and a neighbor girl!) down to the local children's museum, followed by McDonald's trip. On Sunday we did church followed by family faith formation, and then ice skating after lunch. A couple of our friends, Eileen and Mary, came ice skating with us. Each of them took turns helping M and B learn to ice skate while I pulled J around the ice on a sled. Afterward, we went home to ave hot baths (the kids, not me), and then we went out to a local chinese buffet with our friends, who treated us. I'll paste some pics from the weekend below.