Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Our Valentines: 7 Children ages 5 and Under

With the scarcity of babysitters and the wonderful date we had for our anniversary at the end of January, I knew the likelihood of going out for Valentine's Day was pretty slim. So I decided to offer to babysit for our friends in return and throw a Valentine's party for the kids. Then, as I thought of fun activities and scoured Pinterest, I decided we could be crazy and invite the kids of the other family we trade babysitting with too. That way both of them could get dates. And for some reason I just really enjoy planning parties, probably more than I enjoy being at them! ;) But in the end, even with 7 kids, it was fun, though a bit exhausting! 

 Hadassah helped me decorate the door with hearts. :) Paper is cheap and fun to spread hearts all over the room!

 Ellie very sweetly went over to play with her baby friend (7 months old) while I was trying to help the older children decorate their heart pizzas. Somehow we survived the first 45 minutes before reinforcements (Ryan) showed up. And loved seeing Ellie treat this little one with gentleness, even giving her animals to play with!

 While prepping pizzas I kept kids busy with heart butterfly and snail coloring pictures, and a "heart name hunt." I assigned them each a color and scattered hearts with the letters of their name all over the living room. They found and glued them to a page with their name written on it. Kept them busy, and they were motivated by the promise of a candy heart when they completed it!

 I made a big heart pizza for Ryan and I to share...

 And each of the children decorate their own mini heart pizzas. :) They also seemed to enjoy the fact that their veggies were in a heart cookie cutter. I left the mixed veggies frozen to save time and because children often prefer them that way, and several kept asking for more!

 7 children ages 5, 4, 3, 3, 2, 1, and 7 months. Ryan and I stood while we ate because we knew we'd have to always be getting up to get water, seconds, or "more apples without the skin!" so we may as well just stand. ;)

 After supper, to help get out some energy, we played Musical Hearts! I got the idea online. Each heart had an action on it, from "Bark like a puppy" to "jump like a rocket" to "sing twinkle, twinkle, little star."

 The children walked around while the music played and when it stopped, whichever one they landed on they had to do. Even Ellie fully got into walking around with the big kids to music, which was fun to see! We must have played almost 10 times!

 Then it was time for a treasure hunt. I had the clues be different colors so they could each be one to open the one that was "their" color from the heart name hunt earlier. It led them to colored eggs (again, they each got to choose their assigned color - minimized "I want that one!") with little pieces of chocolate and conversation hearts. :)

 The next activity was meant to fill time. ;) They took turns drawing a card (the heart cards from a deck of card) and colored in all the small hearts on their page that was that number. One by one the three youngest grew tired and dropped out, but the two older ones had great fun completing it!

 Ryan and I made a great team, switching off holding babies or distracting kids while the other cleaned something up or got an activity ready. But by 6:45 PM (they'd arrived around 4:30 PM) we were pretty tired and the babies needed more constant attention. So, Cailou cartoons on Youtube to the rescue! ;) It's amazing how it can make 5 children sit so still!

 Ellie loved having some attention after the craziness of the evening. :) And everyone was happy and in good spirits when their parents came! Well, maybe not Hadassah. Of all days, she never fell asleep for her nap so was a bit overtired and over-peopled. But, things like this are good to stretch her, and it just felt so good to spend the evening blessing our friends. Especially when their children excitedly told them everything they did for their "first every Valentine's party!"

Romance was not completely absent, though. My husband surprised me with roses and a shower of rose petals when he arrived home from work (to a bit of children chaos!) and we are always so thankful for a 7:30-8 PM bedtime for our children, so that we have a little time in the evening to spend with each other.

It wasn't the typical "go out for a nice dinner" Valentine's Day. But as much as I enjoy that, I know that this one will be a sweet, special one to remember.

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