All of a sudden, my youngest is professing sudden stomachaches and sprained ankles. I try to look sympathetic and concerned, but in my mind, I’m thinking, “work it, work it”. With big eyes this morning, he told me he’d give me a million dollars if he could stay home “just because.” To counter all this doom and gloom and the morose, self-pitying stares, I have a few tricks up my sleeves:
#1 Distract, Distract, Distract
When my kids complain about school, homework and getting up, I change the subject with “What do you want for dinner? You get to choose two dinners this week.” Or, “What TV shows do you want to tape when you get home?” Then there’s always, “How do you think you’ll spend your allowance this year?” When I’m desperate, I ask my youngest to explain his latest Minecraft exploit.
#2 Break it Up
My favorite way to get homework back into their schedule, (as well as room cleaning) is what we call the family game. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – this really works. On little scraps of paper, write out five fun activities (wii, cards, games, puzzle, swimming) and five not so fun (homework, cleaning) and place them in a bowl. Each child gets to draw one at a time. When “homework” is drawn, no worries. Explain to the kids it’s only for fifteen minutes. You can get an hour and fifteen minutes of homework in each day with fun breaks. Remember, everything is easier to swallow in small bites.
#3 Hang a Carrot
When the school blues arrive full force, I always have something really fun planned a new weeks in. So when my little one offers bribes to stay home, I can counter with “Sorry, but I can’t have you home today because we’re planning a special surprise in a few weeks.” For us, we have an annual Disneyland trip when we pull the kids out midweek for two days. Yeah, they miss school, but I’m willing to bet that when they’re my age, those Disneyland trips will be a bit more memorable than those two days of academics each year. Find a “carrot” that works for your family.
#5 Have more Fun
Simplistic, I know, but I’m totally serious. May I suggest you turn your dining room table into a ping pong table? Our most fun purchase this summer for $19.99 was a pressure mounted (i.e. won’t leave marks) ping pong set that can be affixed to your dining room table. Along with several balls and two paddles, this device has given our family hours of fun. And it’s still up. It’s the first thing the kids do when they come home from school.
This one is great too – just pretend it’s still summer. This weekend, have a barbecue and eat outside. Turn the sprinklers on if it’s still hot enough at your house, or jump in the pool if you’ve got one. Then, stay up late and watch a family movie, but before you do, back to that barbecue. Nothing says summer more than burgers on the grill. Pair it with Broccoli Salad and Onion Rings. Strawberry Ice Cream for a special dessert should also bring smiles.
Whatever you decide to do to quell your children’s nerves about the new school year, remember to let them know you’re on their side. Most of the time, kids just want to be heard and understood. Once my son’s feelings are acknowledged, he feels better. He’s nine, not nineteen. When he’s nineteen, he’s going to get the “I was paying my own bills at nineteen” story, but now, he’s going to get a soft, understanding, shoulder. And a cheeseburger.
With Udi’s Hamburger buns, I am able to give my kids a mouth-watering hamburger that they love. The buns freeze well, but I use them within a few days of purchasing.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 juice burgers
1 pound ground chuck beef (I buy ready formed patties at Trader Joe’s)
4 Udi’s hamburger buns
slather of butter (or Earth Balance)
4 slices cheese (or vegan Daiya)
gluten-free mayo, mustard, ketchup, onions, tomatoes and lettuce
1. Fry patties on the stovetop in a heavy bottomed pan (I use cast iron), for about 4-5 minutes. Flip and add cheese and fry 4-5 more minutes. (This can also be done on the grill).
2. Meanwhile, halve the buns and with a spoon or your fingers, scoop out the center of the top part of the bun and discard. This makes the bun much lighter. Butter each side and set under a hot broiler for 2-3 minutes or until nicely browned.
3. Add your patty and favorite condiments to the bun and go to town!
About the Author
Amy Waczek writes a gluten-free, casein and soy optional blog featuring a recipe index and resource guide at www.amysglutenfreepantry.com.