At the risk of seeming ungrateful, I’m just going to say it: I hate weekends. And let me backtrack just a little – I didn’t always hate weekends. But since I became a stay-at-home mom 2 years ago, it’s hard to separate a weekend from any other day of the week. In fact, sometimes weekends are just harder than the rest of the week.
I have low expectations for weekdays – we cruise through each day in routine-mode. There’s breakfast and waiting for my oldest to catch the bus, then a visit to the gym with the little ones, errands, lunch, nap-time, playtime, dinner, trekking out to extra-curricular activities, then bedtime. The routine is go-go-go, but can also seem mundane. Yet, the routine brings comfort, both for the kids and for me.
As Friday rolls in, I have high expectations. Time for my hubby and me to spend together without the pressure of the work day looming over him. Time for some adventures. Time to relax. The only thing wrong with these visions of what a weekend should be is that they are from an earlier time before we had kids.
Often we make plans to go places and it ends up being more stress than fun – the packing extra items for the kids, the tantrums performed at inopportune times, the whining, the crying, the extra driving, ugh.
Then there are the times when we give up and say, nope, we’re not going anywhere this weekend. We park ourselves at home without a plan in sight but then the kids are running around the house, screaming, fighting, your basic definition of “stir-crazy.”
So it seems we can never strike the right balance of how to spend our weekends. But one thing is always certain – there is no relaxing for Mom. Mom still has to be Mom and the endless tasks are still there – the dinner to be made, the baths to run, the questions to answer, the laundry to fold, and the mess to clean up. It is probably the single most irritating aspect of being a stay-at-home mom. Week-end? What end? It never ends!
I do give my husband tons of credit because he is always there on a weekend to pitch in with the kids to help to lighten the load. But the kids are often so accustomed to asking me for everything that they can’t seem to break out of the weekday routine – like they can’t believe that Daddy can do it too. So, try as he may to get them milk or help them put their shoes on or change their diaper, my 1-year-old screams in protest and my 2 1/2 year-old actually verbalizes, “No, I want Mama. You’re not Mama, you’re a boy.” We’re working on this slowly but surely, but you can’t always (ever) rationalize with toddlers.
Let me say also that I can see how this whole subject could be viewed as a whiny complaint by “working moms.” But, I can also tell you that I was one of those “working moms” for 6 years. Not only that, but I was a single working mom for 3 of those years. I thought I had the hardest job in life. And I did. And I used to scoff at those “stay at home moms” thinking that they had life easy and couldn’t understand why they seemed so frazzled. Now I know. Being a parent is hard, no matter how you do it. And weekends are hard for all parents because kids can be tough! But something about not having a change to indicate that it is indeed the “end of the week,” can seem maddening to a stay-at-home parent.
So, here is my thought on how to “change” weekends for the better. First, I change my mindset. I will no longer have high expectations that a weekend should be some glorious vacation from reality. In fact, I will recognize that the kids will still be kids and will still need and want all of their needs and wants. I will, together with my hubby and kids, come up with one fun family activity per weekend and try to keep it relatively relaxed for the rest of the weekend with at-home outdoor or craft activities that are different than our typical weekday activities.
In addition, I’m now calendaring ahead. What this means is that I will look months in advance and plan date nights for my hubby and me, outings for my oldest daughter and myself, weekend getaways, or lunches or dinners where we invite friends and their families to our home. My husband and I also coordinate so that he and I can run solo errands without the kids tagging along. I never knew how sweet a trip to Starbucks could be until I was up to my elbows in kids and couldn’t even sip my Chai Tea Latte without having to assist a toddler with eating a cake-pop while holding a baby on my hip. Little moments alone can be more rejuvenating than you may realize.
With my constant disappointment in weekends, I knew something had to change. And it wasn’t actually the weekend, it was me. I stopped looking back to how things used to be and started looking forward. I started planning ahead, getting excited (in a realistic way) about events and outings and friends and family. In effect, I hijacked our routine and redefined “weekend,” stay-at-home-mom style. It’s not perfect, but family and life never is.