Grandchildren – Herding Cats at the Cabin

For twenty four days there had been a constant flow of people coming and going from the cabin. For several  quiet days, just 3 people were in residence. On one busy long week-end there were 14 family members (and 22 for dinner one night). People, groceries, beds, beach towels, bug spray, transport vehicles, freezies, beer, golf clubs, fire wood, marshmallows and with any luck, at least one adult around at all times to make sure the little kids didn’t eat all of grandma’s dark chocolate in one go. It was an exercise in Herding Cats.

On the last Sunday night, Five Survivors were left for one last night of frivolity before the Exodus back to the city. Me, and four young grade school children were the last ones standing. There was one lone escape pod left in the driveway. Me, and an Army of Cats were good to go. My little army – they had been on cabin time for 24 days, which meant they had no sense of urgency, if in fact they had ever had any. Late nights and late risings had shifted meal times to mid morning, mid afternoon, and mid evening.

Bath time had been replaced by the occasional swim at the lake or a dip in the hot tub or by pointing the garden hose at each other on the trampoline. At least one child had not used hair shampoo the whole time. What didn’t wash off with this water became the base layer for the next day. Bug spray, sunscreen, campfire smoke, dirt… as one grandson noted on the last day, “The mosquitoes don’t seem to bite me anymore…”

So when the last child rolled out of bed on the last day, I announced that we were going for “lock and load” at 4:30 PM. That gave us exactly six hours to gather up belongings, hoover up a week or two of dirt, eat two meals (and thus empty the fridge), eat one last freezie, and close up the cabin.

The children, thinking 6 hours was forever, had other plans – one wanted to go bush wacking with sharp pointed tools, one wanted a trip to the beach with the dinghy, one wanted to go looking for frogs and snakes in the marsh and one wanted them all to go to the playground. All good ideas, but grandma couldn’t be four places at once. I needed a diversionary tactic, so I said they could have a three Movie Marathon. Each child could pick two they wanted to watch. During the time they weren’t watching a movie, they could help me pack their stuff. Then they could do anything else they wanted, as long as it was outside and it didn’t need adult supervision. (And nothing that was already packed got unpacked…)

At 4:23 PM I made a last sweep of the yard. I gathered up the things the kids had “lost” on the trip from the house to the car, locked the cabin door, and turned off the water. At 4:29:19 PM (according to the Grandsons watch), I loaded the last of four children into the Jeep for the trip  back to the city.

From what I have told you, I would imagine you are surprised that we made it on time. So I’ll divulge my Secret Weapon for Herding Cats. Their electronic games had been confiscated a few days previously (by their parents) and I had promised them that they could play with these games during the 2 hour drive home…

What form of bribery do you use to Herd Cats?

14 thoughts on “Grandchildren – Herding Cats at the Cabin

    1. Hi Mag – I’ve had a lot of years of perfecting being on time. It isn’t that hard if you calculate the hypotenuse of the expectations, subtract the harmonic mean of ‘A’ and ‘B’, and hold your breath till you turn blue if anyone holds you up…


  1. I’m exhausted just reading about your efforts! Bless your heart and the “herding cat” metaphor is purr-fect!


    1. Hi Lorna – Exhausted didn’t begin to describe how tired I was when I finally crawled into bed that night!


  2. Good job! Having visitors for a couple months myself I recognize how expert your plan was when you decided to “lock and load”!


  3. Really funny – you should make up a card with the photo/drawing and the post for each of the grandkids scrap books. Someday, if not already, they will laugh their heads off!


    1. Hi Christe – Yes, I could do that. Or the grandkids mothers could just print the post, because they know grandma will probably forget to make the card!


  4. I love this… stumbled on your blog and am so glad that I have. As the mom of four boys, now grown up I can so relate. Sounds like you handled it all so VERY well, I could have learnt a lesson or two. What amazingly lucky grandchildren you have.. firstly to even have such an incredible place to be where there is a lake and so many natural outdoor activities and then to have such a generous grandmother overall.



    1. Welcome to my blog!
      Sadly, the cabin was destroyed in the Bow River flood of 2013, but we all have great memories of the time we spent there.


    1. I used to let them put gobs of Nutella on their toast in the morning and eat popcorn for lunch… Good thing I wasn’t responsible for their nutrition for their whole visit…


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