How-To: Survive A Long Weekend With Many, Many Little Monsters

10AM and ready for a nap (oh my god, getting them out of the house, oh my god).

I spent the last three days in a house populated by four children, all of whom are equal parts lovely and awful, depending on the hour of the day and whether everyone can agree on the rules for playing “Hungry, Hungry Hippos” (spoiler: nobody can agree on the rules for playing “Hungry, Hungry Hippos,” despite the fact that you’d think the game would be rather self-explanatory).

My friend Erin came down to visit from San Jose with her kids – who are my kids’ best friends, and also, from time to time, their mortal enemies, as is par for the course for these kinds of almost sibling-like relationships – and it was…

Ok, it was exhausting.

Also SO FUN. But exhausting is putting it mildly. After a full day at Universal Studios and a full day at the beach, Erin and I both regarded the grand plans we’d made for Saturday night (let’s get a babysitter for the kids and go out in Hollywood! Wooooooo!) with considerable skepticism. But neither of us wanted to be the lame one who couldn’t stick with the plan, so we danced around it for a bit.

“Do you still want to go out?”

“I mean…do you? I can do whatever.”

“Me too. Whatever!”

Ready for a wild and crazy night of…dinner.

And then finally we admitted to ourselves and to each other that the sum total of what we had in us was a sushi dinner and maybe (maybe) a drink afterwards. Call us lame; I’d call us champions who had just hauled a combined 180 pounds of Sugar-Infused Child through an amusement park. (We did actually end up rallying and going to a place that had actual LINE-DANCING – amazing – but that’s a story for another day.)

Anyway. The weekend was actually pretty trauma-free, mostly thanks to the fact that Erin and I have spent a lot of time hanging with these particular four children, and have learned that there are a few things that make it possible for everyone involved to escape (relatively) unscathed.

  • Coffee. So much coffee. (Erin actually woke me up every morning with a cup of coffee delivered to my bedside, which officially makes her the best houseguest of all time.)
  • Paper plates and cups ONLY. The volume of dirty dishes four children are capable of generating is truly mind-boggling, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • Mom Is In Charge Of The Radio, And Also The TV. Oh, you want to hear Moana and you want to listen to Michael Jackson and now someone else is screaming about wanting to hear the last song that we heard on the radio again, except we cannot actually replay it because that is impossible because it was on the radio? Cool, we’re listening to the Bangles. Why? Because Mom Is In Charge Of The Radio, And Also The TV.
  • Babysitters. Is it cruel and unusual punishment to let my children’s regular babysitter watch all four of them while we go out for sushi? Sure is! But guess what? We returned home to find a silent household that had become silent with zero participation on our part, and sure, our babysitter looked a little shellshocked, but we paid her extra and now she knows not to have more than two children, so that’s a win.
  • Portable foodstuffs, because nobody can sit the F down but everybody is hungry 1000% of the time. Which brings me to….

Erin’s muffins. These are not pretty pictures of them, but that is because they had very recently survived a six-hour car ride in a Ziploc bag. And trust, they were delicious enough that a little smushiness didn’t matter one bit.

three ingredient cinnamon muffins


What You Need:

  • 1 box of spice cake mix
  • 1 bag cinnamon chips (you can order these online if you can’t find them in your store)
  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin

What You Do:

Mix all ingredients together, and pour into lined muffin tins. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.

Deploy as needed, especially when those little hippos are extra-hungry.

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