For us, knowing the struggles and sometimes limitations of living in Saudi, having two kids with food allergies and adding a baby to a sometimes already crazy house, we have had some really detailed conversations about how to make this as smooth as possible!
Our first step was increasing the older kids responsibilities. This started about three months ago so it wasn't directly associated with the arrival of their sister. Responsibilities we added to their morning routine was packing backpacks among their normal list of getting dressed, brushing teeth and hair, making beds etc. We also added some things to the evening routine to make things run smoother and have them take on more responsibility. What has helped the most is implementing an allowance for Peyton in addition to being paid for chores. The allowance is given for being a contributing and respectful member of our family. She has 14 beans in a jar each week, if she is not being respectful or contributing and we feel like she was warned, she loses a bean….beans left at the end of the week means an allowance….no beans….no allowance. We felt she had moved past time outs and that this was a better reward/punishment system that worked for her and what motivated her. It has been a huge help and naturally she has really stepped up and helped with Graham in the mornings and throughout the day and it has been amazing to watch. Such a huge help and thankful we have some good systems in place and they have been proven before baby comes!
Our conversations mostly involved food! Friends have offered to bring meals but they are mostly going to be for me and John since I have a hard time cooking for the kids sometimes and in no way expected other people to take that on. So, I needed to make sure that we had lots of gluten free meals made and waiting in the freezer. I think right now we are up to about 18-20 meals! I found most of the recipes on Pinterest and then just a couple were regulars I normally make and I just made double that day. We also have individual pizza crusts made and frozen for quick and easy pizzas for the kids.
|This is just one of our freezers packed full. We have a stand up freezer with three drawers full of food!|
And then once we thought we were ready for baby and nothing was left to do on my checklist…we found out that our original plan of going home to Washington the end of July was not approved so we had to come up with a new vacation schedule and start planning for a summer in really, really HOT Saudi!
Unfortunately all three corrosion engineers asked off for the exact same time and John being the newest to the group was denied his vacation request. Big huge bummer but we are trying to stay positive! We have always said (before we even got pregnant) that I would not fly home alone with all three kids for the first time and that the first trip home with three kids would have the support of John….so when he wasn't approved to leave….we decided that I would stay here for the summer and work on surviving my second Saudi summer!
John has been approved for a short leave that he can take beginning or mid September (about 10 days) which we will probably take middle of September to allow the kids to start school and have a couple of weeks in school before they miss a week. But we have no idea what we are going to do or if we are going to go somewhere, so we have still been working on that. We are leaning towards getting out Saudi as a break after the summer but we have to find that right trip for our first travel experience as a family of five! John was then approved for his long vacation in December. We will be in Washington from December 1- mid January which is so exciting. To be able to spend Christmas there, go cut down a Christmas tree for our new house, take both big kids skiing and to have John with me that whole time will be great.
But in the meantime we have to survive July and August in Saudi!
Our first summer in Saudi was when we first moved here which was rough but we are in a much different place this time….we have a car, our shipment, internet, TV, friends, a routine, and know what we are about to get into! So, we started making some plans and preparations to make this go as smoothly as possible. Thankfully the Peyton has school and activities until the end of June and then Graham has school until mid July. Then we just have July and August before school starts up again and we have two of our closest friends here throughout the summer and other friends coming and going throughout :) But we still needed to plan! Step one was creating a "I'm Bored" jar filled with easy, quick Pinterest inspired ideas.
I don't even know how many ideas I ended up coming up with but I think there is easily over 50 different ideas. We have ideas such as making cardboard cars and doing a drive in movie, water balloon fights, balloon animals, craft projects, baking projects, shaving cream car washes and so much more. I am planning on writing them out in a list as we pull them out and sharing them at the end of the summer (and so I have a list for future summers) but most of them were found on my Pinterest board. We went a couple of weekends ago to get supplies…boxes, shaving cream, nerf guns (for knocking over cups), water balloons and miscellaneous things. Hopefully this will help and spur some creative and fun play!
We also picked up random new toys for them that are hidden and to be used in case of an emergency! And then we did pick up a couple of bigger items for the backyard to help encourage them to play outside in the mornings before it gets too hot. I am planning on trips to the beach, splash pad and parks in the mornings but didn't want to feel like I had to do it every day with a new baby. We had a great pool from last year and a water table and so we looked around at what was available and settled on a trampoline and sand box. So far the kids are excited and I am hoping the enthusiasm continues.
The couple of friends that will be here throughout the summer and I have been talking about different activities and plans and ways to pass the time including some day trips for the husbands and bigger kids to the malls and Bahrain to do fun activities like game centers and go see a movie or the water park. And I have two equally creative friends who have been coming up with ideas for their kiddos so between the three it should be a Pinterest worthy, creative and fun summer! Also, a friend's nanny here on camp who is amazing is not flying home for the summer and has asked for work over the summer so we are looking into having her come one or two mornings a week to allow me either time to sleep, get out for coffee and a book by myself or take the big kids swimming or other one on one opportunities with them.
As much as I would have loved to be spending a summer in Washington and it was so hard to know we were not going back to show off our sweetest addition until December and enjoying the family time that we had planned this summer; I am trying to be positive, accept that I can't change the situation and make the best of it and look at it with appreciation of the time we will have here as a family of five and the laid back summer we will have to soak up the new baby!