Friday at 5:00pm does not mean the celebrated end of the work week. It does not mean ‘TGIF’. It does not mean free time, or relax time, or chill out with friends time. It means make dinner time, fold more laundry time, still convince children to hang up coats and empty lunch boxes, and of course it will lead to: try to get children to still go to bed time.
It means somehow finding the energy for more laundry, endless house chores and utmost patience, while still, somehow, allowing the children space to be ‘kids.’
This is the balance I struggle with every weekend. It is MY weekend to catch up on home stuff, but it is also THEIR weekend to recharge and play. At the same time that I feel it is important for them to learn responsibilities of helping with the house, I also want them to be able to relax and have a break from the overtly structured time of the school week. And also at the same time, I feel that I deserve the same ‘break’ time, at least a little bit, to relax and recharge my batteries.
The result of this struggle is a push and pull that will continue over the whole weekend. Most Friday evenings tromp along with regular after school reading, Legos, dolls, and various play activities for the kids. I settle into a short moment of letting go, pausing, and relaxing with a book and a few projects.
But then comes time to make dinner. About this time, I realize that they are reaping all the benefits of the ‘weekend’ time, while I still work away (as I AM the parent) with regular life chores. Attempts at involving them sometimes work, but usually result in bigger messes to clean in the kitchen, hurt feelings of not enough ‘fun’ jobs for all three while just making dinner, or arguments and foot stomping.
We muddle through dinner preparations and maybe even succeed at a ‘full family dinner’ around the table. And then we dissolve into after dinner activities. The minimum kitchen clean up accomplished and some laundry is folded as we drift later into the evening hours. Board games, Lego building, some doll play and coloring mix in with a few electronic games and some parental projects.
These progress until it gets later, and later, and later. Suddenly I realize that it is well past their normal bed time, well into the silly and giggly time, almost to the tears and huge melt down time. A Friday night to them means getting to stay up, but with basketball tomorrow, this is not a good idea. The articles on the importance of regular bed time flash through my sleepy mind, proving what a bad job I am doing as a consistent parent.
Perhaps I should redirect them to a different activity, but they are rather stuck on this game of their own creation. Perhaps I should remind them to use ‘quieter words’, their volume control seems to be broken or stuck on LOUD at this late hour. Perhaps they will just fall asleep on the pillows, that now surround their imaginative play game, but that seems to work less and less the older they get.
Perhaps I should go to bed myself.
I opt for the ‘try to stay calm’ and ‘get them to bed now’ option. The youngest is suddenly to tired to even stand up to walk up the stairs. The oldest stomps up the stairs, making me wonder if that is the source of her ankle problems. And the middle child has gone straight to bed, but not brushed her teeth yet. Deep breaths, calm words, and strong back muscles get them all up the stairs and teeth at least attempted.
With kisses and tucking in and switching off lights, the children are all in bed.
Now, finally I can fall asleep. Only, it will be in the littlest’s bed, while snuggling her to sleep.