Parents of small children know how difficult it is to relax on a weekend. But there are ways to make work-free days a little less chaotic.
Remember when weekends consisted of nights out, sleeping late, pleasurable shopping trips, leisurely brunches, or even enjoying a hot bath without little people jumping on top of you? No, neither do we.
Weekends as a parent of young children are no longer what they used to be. Gone is the quiet Sunday where you could binge-watch your favourite series, indulge in a time-consuming hobby, or recover from a hangover.
Instead, your weekends are consumed by the task of entertaining your kids.
However, don’t give up! The laid-back weekend lifestyle isn’t over. You are not committed to a decade of 7-day-a-week weariness (despite how it may feel right now). You simply need to rebalance a few things and improve how you handle your family weekends.
Here are some simple methods to find the time and space you need to relax on the weekends when you have kids.
Consider your weekend mindset
Accept that the automatic downtime you used to have is no longer going to happen on its own – but it can still happen if you make it happen.
If you only think of weekends as a grind of playdates (for younger kids), taxi service (for older kids), and slogging through housework, that’s exactly how your weekend will go. Making small changes and planning ahead of time to make weekends more balanced and enjoyable requires practice, but it is entirely possible.
Let go of expectations
Try rethinking your weekend plans and what’s realistic with a young family in tow. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll be able to paint the house, organise a get-together, run the week’s errands, and read a book. Instead, choose a couple of those items and put them into action.
While we all know that kids thrive on routine, don’t be afraid to relax a little over the weekend. Allow a relaxation of the rules to become the weekend norm. Why? Because loosening the rules results in more fun for the kids and less stress for you.
You don’t have to let disorder rule your life. However, agreeing to a PJ day, a carpet picnic breakfast, a movie supper, a wear-whatever-you-want day, or anything else you can think of gives a memorable experience for the kids while relieving you of the strain.
Don’t plan kids’ activities for the whole weekend
On weekends, kids usually have a lot of activities. Sports, playdates, and birthday parties are crucial elements of your children’s lives, but they can quickly add up. If you’re not careful, they can easily take over the entire weekend, leaving you exhausted (and possibly a bit resentful).
So, if possible, try to confine commitments to a single day. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but doing everything you can to keep them to one day will offer you a free schedule the next day to fit in time for everyone to relax and recover. Alternatively, attempt to schedule them solely in the mornings, keeping the afternoons open for family or alone time.
Remember that it is perfectly OK to decline further commitments. If your weekend is already booked, don’t feel bad about declining any additional invitations. The more things you sign up for, the less time you’ll have to rest.
Allow everyone to have a say in the weekend’s activities
Not every weekend is jam-packed. When you have a calm weekend with nothing planned, ask everyone what they want to do and include some of everyone’s ideas in the planning. Even small children will be able to express their preferences.
Take care of yourself
To get some alone time, take turns with your companion. And don’t feel bad about it. You don’t have to feel awful about not wanting to spend every waking moment of your weekend with your family. This does not imply that you are a horrible parent. In fact, after some time away, you’ll be a far better parent. Take your time. Recharge.
Make a deal with your partner to trade lie-ins
On Saturdays and Sundays, take turns getting up with them so that either you or your partner can sleep again.
Try to have a meal away from home
Life with little children entails a lot of food preparation, table clearing, surface wiping, and crawling on the floor, picking up the never-ending stream of food thrown there. One simple method to alleviate the stress on weekends is to eat one (or more) meals away from home. It’s worth its weight in gold not to have to worry about what you’re going to cook or pick it up off the floor afterwards.