It’s school holidays at the moment, which means that I have an extra child to entertain during the day. Which is really not that big a deal, my eldest is a pretty easy-care kind of kid. But when you add my shift working job into it, sometimes it feels like a two week period of shoddy parenting and crappy attempts at school’s out fun.
I had big plans today. I was going to make popcorn, drag out the mattresses, and let the kids have a ‘day at the movies’, complete with milkshakes, grilled cheese, and maybe even some chocolates. I let them stay in their pyjamas until lunchtime. It’s my go-to pre-night shift activity- the kids have fun, and if I am really lucky, I get to sneak in a snooze on the couch while they ‘Let it go’ for the 560000th time. I was going to top it off with a trip to the park, and it was going to be awesome.
And then the internet broke.
No Netflix. NO NETFLIX. And, for the life of me, I couldn’t make the media server boot either, so no movies. Disaster!
So I asked the kids what else they would like to do. Daniel told me that he wanted to ride a dinosaur. Phoebe suggested ice skating, which was slightly more realistic, but still not possible considering that Jared can barely walk. So we sat, dejected and bored, until a light bulb went on in my brain.
“Do you guys want to make cupcakes? I’ll let you get all my icing out, and you can make your own decorations?”
The kids unanimously agreed that chocolate cake was the flavour of the day. With the power of 4G and my trusty smartphone, I managed to find this simple recipe, which consisted of ingredients that were easily located within our cupboards. Eggs were cracked, milk measured, ingredients stirred, and tastes stolen by small people with sneaky fingers. Jared assisted as one year olds do, attempting to spice up the recipe with various non food items. Chocolate-perfume cake, anyone?
With the cupcakes in the oven, I set the kids up with some fondant and some cookie cutters. For a good twenty minutes, the older two sat happily and created various things. “It’s just like play-dough!” Phoebe exclaimed while decorating a butterfly, “except it tastes HEAPS better!”
Once baked and cooled, we whipped up some simple chocolate icing- icing mixture, cocoa, a little butter. I made the icing super thick, and then zapped it in the microwave for a minute. This melts the sugar and makes it easy for little people to ice the cakes by simply dipping them into the mixture and swishing them around. It is the quickest way to ice cupcakes, and it makes them look all shiny and smooth on top- just like they are in a bakery. I set the kids up with five cakes each, and let them go crazy decorating them however they deemed appropriate. The results: ten of the most over decorated, sugar coated cake items that the world has ever seen.
We celebrated our success with a walk in the sunshine to the park. We kicked a ball, ran around, and had ‘funny walk’ races. I let them win, I swear. Once sufficiently exhausted, they tucked into their creations, in the sun, on the grass. They were sated, I was satisfied.
Sometimes, the simplest activities are the most enjoyable. There was no fancy food, no fashionable desserts. No money spent. But my goodness, today was so lovely.