Oh happy days.
In case you’ve been dreading your progeny returning to school this fall, school administrators across the country may have just found the perfect way for you to spend a little more time with your loved ones.
According to Reuters, schools say they can save money by only opening four days a week, meaning three-day weekends for our currently undereducated public school population. I wonder why they’re stopping at three day vacations. Imagine the money we could save if the kids only went to school one or two days a week or not at all.
Some parents who actually drive away from their house to go to work may have a hard time finding new daycare arrangements, but perhaps they should just look at this as a good opportunity for little Johnny to grow up and be a man. Shouldn’t all six-year-olds know how to take care of themselves? Leave ’em a hot dog and a box of cold cereal and free access to the television all day, and I’m sure the kiddos won’t mind Mom or Dad not being there all day.
Me? I’m just thrilled with the idea. Since my husband and I both work from home, we can just be one big happy family, kind of like the new generation of the Walton’s. It’s certainly worked for us this summer with all five of us bouncing around the house. The kids haven’t gotten on our nerves – or each other’s – and thanks to the extra help around the house, I’ve even been able to let the maid and the groundsmen go. We’ve hung on to the butler, but if the schools cut back on days in the classroom, I may have my teenage son measured for a tuxedo and white gloves.
Many of my friends have asked me what the secret is to keeping everyone so happy and pleasant under one roof. Due to popular demand, here is my three-phase Family Bliss Plan ready for you once your school district decides you don’t need a five-day break from the kiddos:
PHASE ONE: Develop a card system. Here’s how mine works:
Complain: earn a “go scrub the bathroom” card.
Bicker: receive a “pick weeds in the garden” card
Pick on a Sibling: earn a “clean your sibling’s room” card
Talk Back to a Parent: earn a “do the dishes by yourself” card
These cards work fine for a while, but soon the kids start behaving. Then it’s time to launch
PHASE TWO: Voluntary Bedroom Confinement
So you have the card system going strong, and your kids are not only getting along but are also doing quite a few of the household chores in the process. But they’re still under foot. Every time you turn around, there is a new teenager lopping his big glopping shoes over the side of your hand carved chair or a dripping her nail polish onto your coffee table. The best way to prevent these headaches is to provide incentives for your children to voluntarily stay in their room out of your way all day. Every time you spy a child in the family room relaxing, give them a task. Taking out the trash and sweeping the floor are excellent tools for motivating teenagers to vacate an area. Send them up to their room with some laundry to put away, and you won’t see them again for several hours. It is the perfect way to have your house just as quiet as when your kids actually did attend school five days a week.
PHASE THREE: Extended Family Visits
Start lining up overnight trips for your kids to get to know long-lost relatives. Sure you’ve burned out the grandparents with all those weekend sleepovers, but, hey – there’s always Great-Uncle Gus who hasn’t seen the kids in years. Surely he’d enjoy a night or two getting to know the kids. If not, he won’t know that until after they’re already there. Just make sure you let the phone go straight to voicemail. Hearing your kids cry because Cousin Sarah bit them can tug on the heart strings if you’re not careful.
Oh, and if these three steps fail to bring you the peaceful, quiet bliss that every parent looks forward to at the end of August, there is one last step you can try: sign them up for every school club and sport you can. Then you can drop them off at school even when it’s closed. When the school principal calls to tell you that there is noone there to watch your kids, you can feign a mistake in the practice schedule. At least it’ll buy you a couple of hours of peace and quiet.