Way back in mid-2013 my sister asked if I could stay at her house the last week in January and take care of my niece and nephew so she and her husband could go to a yoga retreat in Belize. Of course I said yes. I figured it would be a fun chance to hang out with the kids, and my original plan was to take the entire week off from work and bring Toby with me.
Well, some of that plan went awry. Toby got himself uninvited on Christmas Day when he sneaked off into their house and voided his system in several inappropriate places. Also I changed jobs, which meant that the vacation plan was off the table.
Still, it all worked out. I arrived on a Saturday morning after my sister and brother-in-law had already left for the airport. My niece was still asleep and my nephew was down the street at a sleepover. I took the opportunity to hang out with the family pets a bit.
I'd forgotten that my niece had a friend staying over. Once they got up, I made a pan of cinnamon rolls out of refrigerated dough and whipped up some eggs and toast so their breakfast would have a little more substance. My nephew eventually got home and brought his sleepover buddy with him. Throughout the day, other neighborhood boys kept showing up and the house was filled with activity until early evening.
I made a batch of veggie chili for lunch, but its lukewarm reception by everyone except my nephew's vegetarian friend told me my usual cooking style was going to be off the table for the week.
We met up with my husband for supper at a restaurant in my neighborhood, which is fairly distant from the kids' house. The big treat was that we were going to the bowling alley afterward. A friend's band was playing and I'd invited some of my friends and their kids to join us.
Everyone stayed up WAY past their bedtimes and had a lot of fun.
On Sunday morning, both kids were game to go with me to Petco while I took my volunteer shift caring for the adoptable cats. Afterward, we went out to breakfast.
Then we stopped by A Librarian's house to take care of her cats, and my house to pick up a few things I'd forgotten to pack.
We finished our afternoon of errands with a fast food meal and a trip to the grocery store. During breakfast we'd made a meal plan for the week, which proved to be very helpful.
The work week was kind of a blur. Every morning I'd pack a lunch for my nephew and make him something for breakfast. My niece needed to be out the door to catch her school bus by 7:02 a.m., and she did a great job getting herself ready and taking care of her own breakfast and lunch.
I dropped my nephew off at his friend's house each morning so he could get on the bus from there and I could make it to work on time.
My meal plan got us nicely through a week of suppers and fortunately the kids were used to eating late, so that all worked out with my hellishly long commute time. Usually I'm traveling against rush hour traffic both ways, but that week I was in the thick of it.
One thing that was nice about staying there was that I slept quite well. The kids went to bed no later than 9:00 p.m. and I generally wasn't far behind. Sometimes the cats slept with me (the dogs each sleep with their favorite kid every night), but they didn't generally wake me up. In fact, Starsky thought I should sleep later each morning.
Friday night was the exception. Both kids were invited to sleepovers and there happened to be an ice storm that day. Because I was in no hurry to get back to their house, I went to my own house for a while and hung out with my husband until the traffic had time to clear. When I got ready for bed, I made the mistake of letting both dogs sleep with me. Both young, rambunctious dogs. Yeah, not a good idea.
The next morning, my nephew came home and revealed that he'd gotten in trouble at school the day before. When he'd gotten in trouble at school earlier in the week, I'd withheld dessert as a punishment. This time, I decided to go with no TV or video games. Instead, I had him read for a long while. He helped me scrape the ice off my car and then we played board games and ate popcorn. Yeah, not much of a punishment.
My band had a gig on Saturday night, so I couldn't hang around to wait for my sister and brother-in-law to get home, but my niece is old enough that she had the evening covered from the time I had to leave until their folks got in. In fact, she managed to score a babysitting gig in the neighborhood, so she was able to take her brother with her and make some money, too.
I made a just couple of mistakes but they weren't too major:
- I forgot to put a drink in my nephew's lunch the first two days. Then again, it took him until the third morning to tell me.
- The last day of my visit, I watched the postal delivery lady pull up and struggle to jam the mail into the box. That's when I realized I hadn't brought the mail in a single time during my stay. Oops.
All in all, it was a great experience. I don't find myself spending nearly as much time with my niece and nephew as I'd like and they're growing up really quickly. I'm glad to have had so much one-on-one time with them and I think it brought us closer.