We’re like most families with young children – weekends are too short and too long coming. We try not to overbook activities for Saturday and Sunday, but we still seem to find ourselves rushing around far more than we’d hoped. Sunday night sneaks up on us as Milin and Jasmin, overtired, finally slow down – and once they’re asleep it always feels like we’re not ready to even think about Monday yet.
I spend our weekend days trying to make the most of being at home with Milin and Jasmin. But I also make sure I get time to myself as well. Just like during the week, it’s an impossible balance to achieve.
We’ve made a conscious effort over the last few weeks though to do less. We’ve entertained less, we’ve not made as many social plans, and we’ve said no to invitations. We’ve not lived like hermits (far from it!) but we’ve definitely tried to slow down. And it’s felt good.
After spending Easter in Cornwall, we came home knowing we need to make more effort to spend our precious weekend hours doing things together. Activities at home aren’t easy – I’ll always sneak away to get a meal ready, or tidy up a corner that’s needing it – and then realise an hour has passed and everyone else is still curled up on the sofa watching a movie. So nothing beats getting outside for having to switch off from chores or work or errands.
Over the last year or so we’ve got into the habit of doing our outdoor adventures as only half a family. Tony will stay home and get jobs done while I take the kids somewhere. Later, he’ll take them bike-riding while I get my jobs done. Sometimes, you need to do that – but actually, I think we’ve been doing it too much.
So over the last few weeks – our trips to the park, our forest walks, our heath rambles – all of those things have been done as a foursome. It’s made a real difference, I think, to how we’re feeling about time, and whether we have enough of it. Somehow, we’re squeezing in a few more hours spent as we’d really like to spend them. I feel like I’ve had more time with the children – even though I might not have done. I’ve probably had a few later nights because laundry or tidying or sorting etc has had to wait until later. But it hasn’t mattered.
The kids have noticed it too. Jasmin has a habit of asking me at the weekends, “Mummy are you going to yoga or work?” It’s been so bloody nice to say “No, I’m not.”
I’ve missed a few of the things I’d usually do by myself (I’ve done no yoga this weekend and normally I’d feel tense and stressed as a result – but actually, I’m ok); and some of my usual solo tasks have been done with three ‘helpers’ in tow. (The shopping mall a la famille on Saturday afternoon was not really fun!)
It’s not practical every weekend, but the last month or so has been a reminder. These weekend days and hours are too precious to lose. There’s no easy answer to finding balance – but I do think you need to switch things up a bit regular to make sure you’re balancing your priorities. The weeks of work and school and nursery pass in a blur – and the kids feel it too, to an extent, I’m sure. Having a bit of time together as a family, just to do nothing but trample through a forest, look at the duckslings, or take a tube ride a few stops to get to a different cafe – we need these hours like this. Between Monday and Friday there’s no chance of them. So for two days, while the kids still want me and Tony to hang out with them and have fun with them, that’s what we’ll do.