But this time I didn't plan anything. Except for a random dentist's appointment on Tuesday morning and Zachary's regular Tae Kwon Do classes, the whole week looked like one great big blank.
When I first realized this, I got a little bit panicky, kind of in an "OH MY GOD WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH THESE CHILDREN ALL WEEK?" kind of way.
Then I took a deep breath, reorganized my priorities, and decided that we would have a good time just being home together.
And you know what?
On the rainy days, we watched movies, ate popcorn for lunch, made crafts and read books.
On the sunny days we played outside, where we drew elaborate chalk designs on the sidewalk, played on the swings, and poked things with sticks.
And we had a pretty good time. There were more smiles than whines. More laughter than tears. More fun than boredom.
About half way through the week, I realized that the kids weren't necessarily any better behaved than normal, but the thing - the single, solitary thing - that was making the difference in their level of contentment and mine, was my attitude about it.
When I made the decision that for the week I was going to play with my kids and have a good time with them, it just kind of magically fell into place.
Sometimes things just have to slap me in the face so hard they're impossible to ignore before I really get them.
And I finally made a really important connection.
When I go into a day with an attitude about me and what I need to do - laundry must get done, groceries must be shopped for, there's a sewing project I want to work on, I want to run today, there's a blog post swirling around in my head that I MUST write down, those are the days that are the most frustrating for me and for the boys. I'm agitated about all MY stuff that's not getting done, so I'm less patient, more snappish, and overall grumpier when dealing with them.
When I start my day with an attitude centered on them - what would they like to do today? What would be fun for them? How can I make our time together enjoyable? - those days are better and less grump-filled and less stressful for all of us.
And you know what? Those are also the days that the laundry gets caught up, I get in a good run, and I get done the things I want and need to do, too.
Since I'm not spending my day snapping at them because I'm frustrated, they are in better moods and play much better together, and that allows me some time to run the vacuum, sew a seam or whatever.
This good attitude business, it really works.
I think I'm going to try it more often.