School’s Out! What to do on days off of school.

The boys I nanny  have the whole week off from school!  I love having extra time with them and not feeling so rushed but, if they get bored they pick at each other.  I try to plan plenty of things to do on their days off and still let them be relaxed.  Not an easy balance.  For these nine-year old boys it’s about changing locations a few times during the day.  Sometimes when they have a week off,  they want to spend the whole first day at home.  I don’t blame them a bit for that and usually just go with it.  But this time, they were up for going someplace even on Monday.

I only have them two days a week and this is how our two days off from school went:

We stayed home in the morning.  Their mom wanted them to get their laundry folded and put away as well as clean their rooms.  After a short time playing, we went upstairs to tackle the chores.  Are they excited about folding laundry?  Of course not. I reward them for a job well done, done.  We don’t expect perfection.  If they get all the clothes in the correct drawers and close the drawers, they get  a couple of Tic Tacs.   Up to four possible:  One for getting their clothes right side out, one for getting them semi folded or rolled, I’m not too picky since it gets messed up when they grab clothes out to get dressed anyway.  I don’t make them fold pajamas nor underwear.  One for getting them into the drawers and drawers closed and one for not fighting with each other during the process.  It’s amazing they are satisfied and motivated by tiny Tic Tacs, but they are, so I take advantage of it while it lasts.

Cleaning their rooms,we broke down into two parts to spread over both days I had them, so it wouldn’t be so overwhelming.  Today,  they had to put away their clothes that were out and on the floor.  They were also bribed rewarded for that.  Sometimes I use something they want to do such as a turn on the iPad or computer as their reward, sometimes its a snack treat like a piece of chocolate, sometimes I make it a competition and the winner gets a special priveledge.  I’m all about rewards otherwise why would they care if their room is clean.  They probably aren’t bothered by mess.  Most kids are comfortable with a messy room so they need  motivation.

Today’s reward was making garlic bread to have at lunchtime.

We started with this beautiful loaf of Italian bread from Costco.  It looked good enough without doing anything to it at all.

I took an almost-full stick of butter out of the fridge right after I got to their house so it would be soft for them to mix with 1 teaspoon of dried parsley and 1/4 teaspoon of granulated garlic.  They squished it all together with a fork until it was all combined evenly.



     I cut the bread into slices, without cutting through the bottom crust.

They spread it in between all the slices, getting both sides of each slice.




We discovered that a rubber spatula worked better than a butter knife.

  Wrapping it up in foil made it seem like a gift!

Bake for 15 minutes

  When you take it out and unwrap it, it looks like this!

 They were in the mood for a simple lunch with the bread as the star.  Cheese, apple, garlic bread and milk.   It would be so good with Macaroni and Cheese or pasta and vegetables for a more hearty lunch.

After lunch, we went to my condo because they like to see my dogs and take them for a walk.

Then off to the beach we went.    We brought buckets and shovels for building sand castles and digging, as well as a blanket, snacks and water.   

 If you don’t live near a beach, then go to a park, hang out by a river or lake, anything in nature ups everyones happiness meter.

We got home in time for them to shower and play a board game.  We played Clue.  We all  three enjoy games and its such a good way for them to learn to be good losers and gracious winners.

The second day off of school was unusual since I had a doctor appointment for myself in the afternoon so I needed to take them with me.   Since I had to drag them to that, I promised if they were well behaved I would take them for ice cream for snack in the afternoon.

HINT:  When you ask a kid of any age to behave or be on their best behavior, be specific as to what that means.  Since these guys are nine, and I’ve been thier nanny for 6 years, I just asked them on the way to the appointment what they thought it meant and they nailed it;   even adding to not fight with each other, which I didn’t even think of.  Sometimes, though, your idea of well behaved and theirs might mean two separate ideas.   Be sure they know whats expected of them.  

In the morning they had a 20 minute video game turn each.  This is an amount of time that is agreeable with thier parents.

We did part 2 of  cleaning  thier rooms by putting their toys and books away.

 At 10:00 AM, we began making french fries for lunch because they have to bake for 40 minutes.

They peeled 3 large baking potatoes while the oven heated to 450 degrees.  We patted the potatoes with a towel to dry them out a bit.

We put a piece of Parchment paper on a baking sheet so clean up would be easy.  Then put a drizzle of olive oil on the parchment.  They liked spreading  it around with clean hands while I cut the potatoes into as small of a fry as i could,  they wanted them to be the size of McDonalds fries but I didn’t achieve that thin of a stick.

We put the pototo strips on the baking sheet and drizzled a little more oil, about a tablespoon per potato used.  They tossed them around with thier hands to coat the potatoes with oil.

The potatoes went into the oven for 40 minutes, every 10 minutes I flipped the pototoes around with a spatula so they would brown evenly.

 When I took them out, they looked delicious.  All they needed was a sprinkling of salt.  

They had milk, apple slices and french fries.  Not a big lunch but that’s what they were in the mood for today.

After lunch, we cleaned up and it was almost time to leave for my doctor appointment.  We took the iPad and a Garfield comic book to keep them busy while they waited.  They were so well behaved!  They earned an ice cream for snack.

The appointment was only 30 minutes all together with waiting room and consultation.  We were feeling like a hike.  We needed some exercise and fresh air so we headed to Torrey Pines to explore some trails.  

It was beautiful.  Apparently 9 year old boys care about a view as much as I care about Minecraft;  but the dirt trails were fun as we hiked down to the beach which lead to throwing stones into the ocean and collecting some rocks, but mostly shells.

The boys were not equally into this today.  What do you do when two kids don’t have the same desire to do an activity?  I try to be fair and equal and today I had to cheer one of the boys along because he wanted to quit hiking before we got to the beach and the other wanted to complete the hike.  I feel its good for him to push himself a bit and I encouraged the other to be patient while he sat down to rest once in a while.  It’s a good life lesson.

By time we hiked back up the hill, we were very ready for our ice cream snack and a big ice water so we stopped for that on the way back home.

At the house, we had just enough time to play a game we have been playing since they were three:  One person hides an object while the other 2 people are in a different room.  The hider has to hide the object so that it is at least slightly visible without moving or opening anything. If the lookers can’t find it for a while, the hider can give clues such as who is hotter (closer) or colder (farther from) the hidden object.  Whoever finds it becomes the hider and the other two people are the lookers.  We played this until their dad came home.

That completes my two days with the boys.

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