Why I Love Sunny Saturdays

Sunny Saturday Craft

Sunny Saturday Craft

I’m really coming to appreciate sunny Saturdays at home with the family. They’re beginning to feel like mini holidays. Provided we have no plans, no kids’ parties or other places to be, Saturday has become the day we don’t leave home.

It’s taken eight months of my daughter being at school for us to have this real weekend distinction. It took me that long to train myself out of lazy parenting habits that were making my life impossible.

Before school entered our lives, the children only had childcare two or three days a week. For the rest of the time we did as we pleased. Some days would be busy; trips to the farm or the zoo. Others would be lazy pyjama days, when breakfast lunch and tea were picnics or in front of the TV. No wonder my children didn’t want to go to nursery – every day at home was a holiday, for them at least. No wonder, also, that the rigid structure of a school-plus-nursery week left me reeling.

Finally, though, I’ve figured some rules that help make life work, and much of it is about the distinction between week day and weekend. On week days children must be dressed before going downstairs. No exceptions. At the weekend they can wear pyjamas all day for all I care – it means less washing. On week days breakfast is eaten at the table, although programs can be watched on the ipad. As a result my daughter often gets her own breakfast and program before I’m even up. Weekends mean two hours of sofa snuggling, television, and pancakes if it’s Mummy’s early shift (dry cereal if it’s Daddy’s!)

That brings me on to the main reason why I love Saturdays at home. Hubbie and I divide and conquer. We’re both struggling with life at the moment, meaning all we want to do is sleep. On Saturday I get the early shift in bed, 7am-9am, to sleep/work/read. When I get up hubbie goes back to bed until late morning (lunchtime). I get out some craft, build a den, de-poop the lawn, and let the kids loose.

The rest of the day is spent doing our own thing. Ironing, working, lawn mowing, with one eye kept on the kids. I chuck food at everyone from time to time and pack all the mess away while the grubby kids are in the bath.

It’s a day when there is no rush. No, “we’re late”. No “should”. The kids learn to play, to be bored, to resolve their own issues. (The dog paces around and drives us all crazy, but you can’t have everything.) And hubbie and I get to potter, to just be.

Of course, rainy Saturdays are hellish. Summer, you are welcome!

How Much Should You Entertain Your Children?

Picnic in the sun

Picnic in the sun

It’s the weekend. The sun is shining and it’s warm outside for the first time this year. The children are in shorts. Hubbie and I are not at fighting strength and the desire to spring clean house and garden are being decimated by an overwhelming need to curl up and read a book (me) or get back to stripping the engine in the garage (hubbie).

Saturday saw a whirlwind of sorting from hubbie, in response to a plea from me that the lounge had disappeared under weeks of accumulated detrius. I do cleaning, he does sorting, that’s our skill set and division of labour. I was still feeling sick and disorientated from the tablets and the kids were slightly flummoxed by having a whole weekend without children’s parties to go to.

Grandpa came round to put the world to rights and help tinker with the engine. The children were told to shush, go play and mostly they did. But promises were made that today would involve more games and attention. Then Grandad called late to say he’d pop in for coffee in the morning. So Sunday started with a frenzy of cleaning (as he comes less often I make more effort to maintain the illusion that his son married a clean and tidy person. My stepdad knows this is a lie – my mum won’t even come round anymore because the clutter in our house drives her bonkers.)

By 10am this morning (his anticipated arrival time) we’d cleaned and hoovered and found the house under the filth and clutter. The children assisted by cleaning dust with wet wipes. But still, they reminded us continuously about the request for attention and games. Grandad spent half his time looking at the stripped engine and the rest imparting typos to me that he found in Two-Hundred Steps Home. When he left at 12 o’clock the children had been left to bounce on the trampoline and play in the playhouse. They were quite happy, but still asking for games.

Playing with the hose

Playing with the hose

Hubbie finally managed a game of chess with our daughter while I baked cookies with our son. I then played dominos with them both for twenty minutes. But that was the extent of our attention, as I went off to iron school clothes (and ended up writing this post!) and hubbie mowed the lawn.

They’ve been happily (mostly) playing with the hose and trampoline for the last hour (hurrah for early spring sunshine!), but I still feel a bit concerned.

After all my reading on The Five Love Languages, I suspect that Quality Time is important to both of them. But they do also need to learn to play by themselves. Weekends can’t always be children’s parties and trips to the farm. I at least get time during the week to myself but hubbie needs downtime at the weekend. I used to take them to lots of places when I had them both at home, because they’re easier to manage at the zoo or the park than in the house, but I worry that they had so much fun and mummy time it is why they both cry when being left at school and nursery.

They’re not neglected children, but parental attention can be pretty thin at times. They have each other and are expected to find solace in that. And mostly they used to do that. But more and more, since my daughter started school, they’ve been demanding adult attention at home. Assuming I had the patience to offer it, is it still wise? I don’t remember our parents doing much in the way of entertaining us as kids. We were taught to ride bikes and taken to gym classes, but we also played with our dolls and books and colouring. We sat in the car eating crisps while they went to the pub to play darts, or while they did the supermarket shop.

Parenting these days is all about quality time and enjoying every moment, but what if we’re raising kids that don’t know how to be and play by themselves? What if school becomes harder and harder because being with mummy and daddy is such fun? But what if they need my attention to thrive? It’s a pickle. I’m beginning to understand why people take their kids to ballet and football at the weekend. Wear them out and pay someone else to entertain them. We’re not quite there yet, we enjoy our relaxed weekends too much, but it might happen soon.

In the mean time hubbie is explaining rugby to them both while I cook tea. Somehow it’s only 4pm. Is it bed time yet?