I used to live for long weekends: lazy lie-ins, chilled cafe brunches, going out on the town until all hours, and basically doing whatever, whenever I wanted. Now I’m a parent and my kids have a different understanding of how a long weekend should unfold.
Nope, not refreshed
Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and spending four dedicated days with them is a blessing, but it’s tiring work when you have three young kids. And if you’re also a parent, I bet you get it, too. I’m sure you’ve arrived back at work today surrounded by childless colleagues who are looking refreshed and rejuvenated after a decent mini-break. But not you! Or me.
Once you become a parent you need to let go of this novel notion of ‘the weekend.’ You have small, unpredictable human alarm clocks, who not only prevent you from getting a much needed sleep-in, but make it extremely difficult to do the activities you used to do (like heading to a yoga class or flicking on a midday movie).
Eventually you accept this but then comes a long weekend. Your brain is still programmed to think you’re in for a relaxing time, but the reality is it’s even less relaxing than a normal weekend. It’s full of more hours to keep kids happy, break up sibling fights and struggle to find a moment’s peace for yourself.
If wrangling three energetic monkeys over the past four days wasn’t enough, this long weekend I also received some extra special ‘kick in the teeth’ touches to add to in top of the everyday parenting chores and challenges:
- My husband had to work away most of Friday and into the evening, leaving me Han Solo in the insane asylum.
- Said husband returned from work with MAN-FLU meaning I had half a husband for most of the long weekend.
- Easter chocolates had to be pre-bought, hidden somewhere they wouldn’t melt, and then scattered around the house for the kids to hunt on Easter Sunday morning.
- I was in charge of the Easter entertainment, which included blowing and dying eggs (yes, I googled), making rabbit cupcakes and finding Easter themed movies to watch.
- Daylight saving time ended. Usually this would mean getting an extra hour of sleep, but my kids didn’t get the memo and woke at 5am instead of their usual 6am. Work that out!
- The shops were closed on Friday and Sunday, so I had to think in advance about what everyone was eating or needed over the weekend. I still managed to forget milk and had to find an open petrol station on Sunday who could help me out.
- My youngest had a bad cold all weekend and as a result was a blend of clingy, non-stop crying bubba and a crazed tiny maniac getting up to all kinds of shenanigans.
- It was also council pick-up time in our hood, so we had to get busy sorting through old crap to put out on the street for collection. But it took three times as long because the kids just kept dragging it all back inside.
A few silver linings
Okay, so it wasn’t all bad. I did manage to have a few golden moments and reprieves from the ‘groundhog day’ weekly mum humdrum. Key highlights included:
- Four days off from work. Who doesn’t like that?
- I got around to doing craft with the kids instead of feeling guilty for avoiding it at all costs.
- Eating cupcakes – there was no way the kids were going to eat them all!
- Not looking at emails every two seconds, because I was too busy wiping snotty noses and doing craft.
- Seeing a movie with my middle child. It was really good, and no one could contact me for two hours!
- Clearing out some of our clutter. Yes, it was forced upon us, but now we feel good.
- Managing to squeeze in a spot of much-needed gardening. I cleared a stack of unruly weeds and used a few muscles in the process.
- Lots of cuddles and laughs with the kids (among all the chaos, fights and tears).
The grass is always greener
I long for a proper long weekend like I used to have, but at the same time I know it wouldn’t be how I’ve imagined it. For starters, I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep in, or find anything good to watch on telly — and I’d definitely feel like something was missing.
The truth is, I wouldn’t trade my three noisy, messy munchkins for all the sleep-ins in the world. And even though I feel pretty ripped off at not getting a real long weekend, I know that when they’re all grown up, I’ll be missing these times more than ever.
But I’m not there yet, so for now I think I’ll just cross my fingers and hope the June long weekend brings a few more miraculous minutes of sleep-in time. Coffee anyone?
This article was originally published on April 3, 2018.