I had a new appreciation of what my mother goes through on a daily basis this Mother's Day. That's because Friday I got another long-term babysitting assignment while my mom took my sister up to Penn State for scheduling. I spent just a little over 12 hours as "Mr. Mom" and it was exhausting. My to-do list included getting kids off to school, picking up at kindergarten, making lunch, straightening up the house, providing amusement for "bored" children, and getting dinner on the table. That was an easy day too.
In general, the biggest challenge is keeping the younger ones happy without giving into them all the time. Jack, the kindergartner, has developed a tendency to eat and watch Cartoon Network whenever possible. I tried to institute a no-TV policy and succeeded for about 4 hours, but it ultimately meant more work for me. It's easy to complain about kids watching too much TV, its much harder to occupy them without it.
Another thing is kids seem to have a constant need for instant gratification and you can rarely satisfy them. For example, I played a video game with Jack for a half an hour and he cried when I left the game. He has continued to bug me about playing it again for the last 3 days. Kevin, a 3rd grader, is always begging people to play outside with him. I routinely got told I was "hated" and "being mean", which wouldn't bother me except that my mom is often met with the same remarks.
Despite all that, it was a pretty successful day. When my mom returned, the children seemed to remember better the nice things I did for them than my shortcomings. Still, its one of the toughest jobs out there. So in sharing my experiences, I hope I've conveyed what a miracle-worker my mom is. Happy Mother's Day Mom!