Saturday, December 08, 2012

Weekend Fun

I'm reading an advance copy of Laura Vanderkam's upcoming eBook, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend. Our weekends don't suck, but they could using some optimizing, so I'll be interested to see if I decide to make any systematic changes after I finish the book.

Reading it has already made me a little more conscious of how we're spending our weekends, though. This weekend is a busy one (but not so busy that I can't sit down and write a blog post...) so I had rather low expectations of it going in. It started on Friday night with a trip to the Del Mar Holiday of Lights, which is a large lights display at the Del Mar racetrack.

Our only non-blurry picture of the lights
You can drive around the track looking at the lights or you can take a hayride. We had planned to do the hayride last weekend with a large group of Pumpkin's friends, but it was rained out. Most of the others rebooked for next weekend. We have other plans for next weekend, so we rebooked for last night. It was fun, and Petunia in particular was impressed with the lights.

I should confess: it was not actually that cold
Her highlight of the evening, though, was a chance to sit on Santa's lap and tell him what she wants for Christmas (a shopping cart with food), which surprised me, because last year she screamed at the sight of Santa and wouldn't go near him. We had planned to skip Santa this year, so this was a spur of the moment thing because Petunia insisted when she Santa.

The hay on the hayride really got my allergies going, forcing me to forgo our usual Friday night beers and just take some Benadryl and go to bed. I hate missing Friday night beers, so I was disappointed. Also, that is when Mr. Snarky and I plan out our weekend, which I find to be very useful for ensuring our weekend does not get swallowed up by chores, so I went to bed with even lower expectations for the rest of the weekend.

But today has been surprisingly good. Both girls had birthday parties to go to, so we had to split up. I took Petunia to her party while Mr. Snarky took Pumpkin to gymnastics and her party. Petunia had a lot of fun at the party, and I had fun chatting with the other parents. I don't know the parents of her classmates that well yet, and I was glad to get a chance to get to know them better.

Petunia fell asleep in the car on the way home, and refused to continue her nap once we got home. She did agree to spend roughly an hour of "quiet time" on the sofa, watching shows, allowing me to get some laundry going and do some of the work I need to do (the hayride necessitated leaving work early, so I need to catch up). But then she wanted to play. We did some easy mazes, and then she wanted to go outside for a "scooter walk". That didn't last long- we went a few houses, and then came back and got in the wagon instead, and I pulled her around the block.

We had a lot of fun, and I remembered the trick to really enjoying time with a 3 year old: just do whatever she wants to do.  (Which, incidentally, is what we're doing now- Pumpkin and Petunia are sort of playing together in Pumpkin's room, but really both of them are just doing their own thing: Pumpkin's playing school and Petunia is setting up an elaborate "Happy Birthday party." I am sitting on Pumpkin's bed with my laptop.)

Tomorrow, both kids will have a Chinese lesson at our house, and then we'll split up again, as I take Pumpkin on a promised shopping trip to buy a fancy holiday dress and Mr. Snarky will get some Petunia time. My sister will come over for dinner, which will end the weekend on a nice note.

So from such low expectations, I think we'll have a pretty nice weekend.

Come to think of it, last weekend was pretty good, too. We put up our Christmas tree, and while I stressed far more than I should have in the lead up to that, it turned out very nice, and the kids had a lot of fun decorating it.



Then, on Sunday afternoon, we did something Mr. Snarky has been wanting to do for awhile. We packed Pumpkin's scooter (actually Mr. Snarky's, but he lends it to her- she has requested her own one from Santa this year) and Petunia's tricycle into the back of our Mazda5 and drove down to the Quivera Basin section of Mission Bay for a scenic walk.



The kids had a great time, and the adults did, too. We even saw some Christmas decorations.



So maybe my weekends don't need as much help as I think they do!

What are you up to this weekend? Do you think your weekends are as rejuvenating and fun as you want them to be?

27 comments:

  1. Hm... Today DH worked on making his second final exam. Tomorrow I need to do a referee report that is due Monday. Next week we have no childcare so we can take time off then instead.

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    1. I hope next week is full of lots of fun, then!

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    2. I think most academics are not having a fun-filled weekend this weekend. But in a week or two finals will be graded and we can get our Christmas trees and so on.

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    3. Indeed! My crazy time was roughly a month ago- budget and goals season. A lot of people coast this time of year in my company, but I'm still rather busy, trying to bring some software projects in before the end of the year. It sucks to be busy at work during December. You have my sympathy!

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  2. Thanks for the link to Easy Mazes. I added it to T's Wish List. I wonder if you get credit for it if someone buys it later from the Wish list?

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    1. I don't know- but it doesn't really matter. I'm glad the link was helpful!

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  3. You are my hero! Even your weekends are meaningful and organized.
    Mine are chores plus just trying to keep head above water with non-stop tending to everyone who wants to eat/drink/sleep/play/get diaper changed/get driven to playdate. Not very restful at all. Most of the time I am eagerly anticipating Monday so I can catch a break.
    Also, I wish we had more outings as a family, but with the age span we have now every outing is a fight, because someone does not want to do what is planned.

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    1. Oh, I have weekends like that, too. At some point, though, we hit on the realization that if we discussed our weekend plans on Friday night, then we'd have a better weekend. We already had a Friday night beers tradition, so it morphed a bit to include writing a list of what we need to do and what we want to do over the weekend, and discussing when we might do various things. It really helps, particularly since my husband is the type to let chores just expand to fill the entire weekend if we don't have some fun stuff planned in.

      I think family outings get harder as the kids get older. I read some advice once to stop trying to do everything together as a family and just split up more often. We don't split up as often as I think we should, but our kids actually argue against it at this age- they generally want to go places as a family. I claim no credit for this phenomenon and am sure it will not last!

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    2. We're doing the divide and conquer thing now and I kind of hate it, even if it is just for errands, etc. I feel like I never see hubby/older daughter on some days.

      I love the idea of sitting down to talk about what we want to do. I'd like to do that for the week as well since right now our week/weekends are all the same. (Our days seem to be just sliding by, and having a Holiday Fun List has really helped that problem.)

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    3. Divide and conquer gets more fun when you can trade off kids! Pumpkin never really wanted us to do it much when Petunia was a baby- I'd try to set aside just for her, and she'd insist we bring Petunia along. Very sweet, but it made some trips A LOT harder than they needed to be.

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  4. Calee2:19 PM

    I reaaaaly hate weekends right now, but I'm telling myself its a season of life thing and not something I can fix and so just accept it. My husband runs a charity that relies on volunteers, who, as a rule, have time to help on the weekend. He, therefore, has no weekend (and usually works very long hours on those days 6-6 or so). He tries to a take a day or two off midweek, but that doesn't always happen. This means nearly all the weekend childcare falls to me, but I'm hesitant to sign the kids up for classes/sports/something else on Saturdays because when I tried that, we then had something to do (like a birthday party or something) for the next three Saturdays in a row. My 5 year old has Christmas play practice on Sunday evenings for the next few weeks, but after then I'm at a loss as to what to do with them. Right now, our Saturdays involve a lot of TV, maybe a trip to Target and/or the park. Not my ideal.
    But, in our group of friends, Saturdays and Sunday afternoons pretty much family time or I feel weird explaining that my husband is working again. I'm hoping that he can either transition roles or start working for me come next summer so I'm just trying to hold out until then.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, though!

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    1. @Calee - that's rough. I wind up doing a fair amount of weeknight solo care and I find that my life is totally different if I have a plan that gets us out of the house. At 5:00, I never want to do anything, but if I've told the kids that we're going for pizza and then we'll come home and bake cookies, I have to do it. And I find the evening goes faster than if we're sitting at home with the kids whining to watch TV and bickering with each other.

      Of course, I know this and I still only manage to make a plan like one night a week, so the others I'm lying on the floor with the kids throwing stuff at me.

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    2. Calee8:19 PM

      I finally told the 2 year old I wasn't going to lay on the floor anymore yesterday. Needless to say, he was not pleased.
      :)

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    3. I agree, this is a tough one. We sign up for activities even if it means we miss them sometimes for birthday parties, but it took me awhile to get OK with the wasted money that implies. I dislike having to entertain Petunia when we're at Pumpkin's activities, though, so in your shoes I might put activities on weeknights so I could split the kid-watching duties with my husband. And then I'd plan one or two fun things each weekend, to make sure I had something fun in the weekend. But it could be something really low key, like taking the kids to a nearby park that isn't our "usual." I also tend to make trips to Target into treats for any kids who accompany me by timing them for morning snack and sharing a pretzel before we go shopping. They think it is the best thing ever.

      You could try going to the planning extreme, too- writing out a plan over your morning coffee. Sometimes, having a detailed plan helps keep a day on track. I'm not sure if I'd like this for a weekend day or not.

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  5. So ski caps are what you wear in southern California when the temperature dips into the 60s?

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    1. Yes! When else would we wear them? That cap of mine pretty much only comes out for night time outings in the winter and if we go visit snow.

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  6. Man, I clearly need to work on optimizing my weekends. My husband and I have no kids, and are both in thesis-writing mode this winter/spring. So basically weekends are groceries/laundry/cleaning/meal prep for the week plus an hour at the gym on Saturday and an hour at church on Sunday. The rest of the time that's left around the chores and such ends up being on our laptops except for the few weekends where we've specifically scheduled something fun. Oh yeah, and one weekend a month my (theology student) husband has to travel to preach away (I don't go with him) and that usually means he's gone Fri-Sun.

    Maybe if we were a little more conscious about planning a fun thing each weekend day it would be a bit less of a drag. And also, I have no idea how people with kids even survive! You're amazing - all of you!

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    1. Oh yeah, and we do "make a plan" but it's just a list of what has to be done before the weekend runs out. This weekend it said: Laundry, cleaning, gym, shopping, cut vegetables, freeze meat, wrap presents, ship presents, pay doctor's bills, work on year-end budget. So fun.

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    2. When I was in that situation in graduate school I would occasionally get hardcore cabin fever and we would just GO. Leave the city. Obligations be damned (or squished into Sunday, anyhow). Wanderlust lead us to some pretty fun daytrips.

      I guess these days it is easier to plan things what with everybody and her brother having a webpage. Serendipity occurs before you leave the house rather than after. (And Yelp has helped find yummy places to eat, while avoiding bad ones.) But there's still something to be said for spur-of-the-moment.

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  8. Almost 6 and almost 8 is kiling me! When the 4 of us are together it is sheer hell. The kids are continually at each other's throats or mucking around to the point of needing adult intervention. Then of course things end in tears. I am hoping this is a phase and only due to tiredness of the season and the closeness to Christmas.

    As a result we have been doing a lot in twos recently. Zoe and dad were sick thisweekedn so spent the afternoon together, enjoyably apparently, while Noah and I went for a walk in the centre. We even did some mudlarking along the Thames and came across and old Victorian pottery bottle neck. Next week we'll probably do something as a family again ( Christmas lights).

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    1. I'm nervous to see how my kids do together as they get older. So far, Petunia is young enough that she mostly goes along with Pumpkin's plans. That can't last....

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  9. Ha just came back to peruse the comments and smiled to see we are not the only ones splitting up at weekends. And here I was thinking everyone would grow to enjoy each other's company.My brother and I never did so why should it be different for my 2 kids.

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  10. We don't do much splitting up on the weekends, mostly because my husband is often not home during the week. If he's home on the weekend, then he spends most of his time with the kids to free me up to do other things (super fun things like go grocery shopping and clean the house - but it's good because all I really want is a wee break from the kids). And then we'll do a couple of easy things as a family (go to a park). When I'm on my own with the kids for the weekend, my main survival tactic consists of making sure I have structured activities planned - something out of the house for a large chunk of time, and maybe something in the house, like a baking project or art project.

    This weekend, though, I spent bedridden, with my eldest. We've all had the flu. Let me tell you guys, the influenza this year is *nasty*. Get a flu shot. It's coming for us all.

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    1. Feel better soon! We all get our shots every year. I'm asthmatic, so the flu is a big deal. Heck, even a cold can be a big deal.

      I, too, sort of enjoy it when I get to grocery shopping on my own. Sadly, my kids now both like to come with, so I almost always have at least one child with me at the store.

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  11. We have kind of a template for the weekend where Saturday morning one of us will take the boys to the sport of the season (footy or athletics for now), then Saturday afternoon one of us will take both boys somewhere, like the park or the beach. We always have BBQ Saturday. Sunday morning we try to do something together, usually a hike, and Sunday afternoon we each take a boy and do whatever he wants. The problem I find is now that they don't have naps, it's just this exhausting non-stop affair where we get home from morning activity, they immediately want to do something else (lunch? Who needs lunch!), so we're quickly packing bags or bikes or whatever, or convincing them not to start on a major art project the minute we get in the door, and I find I hardly have time to sit down.

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    1. Our summer weekends are much more templated, because we do BBQ most weekends. In the winter, it gets dark too early to do that.

      Pumpkin gave up her nap at home very early, so we instituted quiet time- which is really TV time- at nap time, and that has been a sanity saver. Except now Petunia wants to join her instead of napping and she isn't quite ready to give up her nap yet!

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