Poetry Tea Time for You, Not Instagram
We don't call it "Poetry Tea Time" in our house. We call it "Party Time!" Once a week we drop everything, eat special treats, enjoy sweet drinks, and read books together (though we usually only have sweets once a month). There are days I feel like my entire life is a Pinterest fail. I do not have a crafting, baking, decorating bone in my body. But even I can pull together a memorable weekly party for my kids! Here are some suggestions for those of us who wish our Spirit Animal was Joanna Gaines, when in reality it's more like Leslie Knope:
1. Purchase a treat ahead of time.
I cannot keep sweets in our house. I simply can't. I have self-control issues with food, and they cannot be on our shelves or in our freezer. If I know we're going to have a poetry party on the first Thursday of every month, then I wake up before the kids & head to the bakery and buy just enough for our special party.
I keep one box of "just add water" scones from Trader Joe's in the cabinet in case I can't make it out for special treats the morning-of. But again, I can only keep them in the pantry because I don't particularly like scones.
2. Skip the name.
We usually have hot chocolate in winter or lemonade in summer. I don't call it "poetry tea time" to anyone but myself. Some afternoons we'll sit outside and read Ranger Rick Jr, or we might listen to a special audio book. This is also a great opportunity to savor a stack of seasonal picture books. We also read lots of poetry from our anthologies. As the kids get older, I envision this as a great time to enjoy Shakespeare.
This is not my spiritual gift, and my littles are very little. For me, this might mean a seasonal tablecloth. Maybe the kids will color and cut out "decorations" (i.e. shamrock or Santa coloring pages) as I read. As they get older, I will make an effort to go "all out" a few times a year with fine china. But they are so little now that they're super excited when I break out our special only-for-poetry-tea-time Tervis tumblers!
4. Consider a Swap
I got this idea from Full Time Wife Life's YouTube channel. She & another YouTuber sent each other themed poetry tea time boxes with absolutely everything you'd need to put together a memorable party. I'd enjoy Googling for some theme ideas and throwing a bunch of cute stuff in my Amazon cart. Maybe consider swapping boxes with another family in your co-op or a family online? Think of the fun your kids would have ripping open a box full of goodies!
5. Keep it short
As with family read alouds, a few focused minutes of learning is so much better than trying to read for an hour as the house burns down around you. As Julie Bogart says, "When the tears start, the learning stops." While we don't usually have tears during reading time, toddlers do throw tantrums and messes can happen. Learn to quit when everyone's still smiling!
Finally, remember to be true to yourself. If Pinterest breaks you out in hives, avoid it. If the idea of your kids using your breakable china makes you hyperventilate, keep the dishes in the cabinet. If you can't find an anthology of poetry you truly love, use this as a special read aloud party. Your kids want to be with you, not some idealized version you have of yourself. RELATIONSHIP trumps everything else. If you're not enjoying yourself, your kids will be miserable, too.
"What child can resist a mother who laughs freely and often?"
~ Maya Angelou
May your fleeting days with your children be full of laughter, enchantment, and love.