Weekend: How we make me-time

In last week’s Tranquility by Tuesday post, I talked about how one busy couple altered their schedule to create more “me time.” My general suggestion for any two-parent family where folks are feeling like life is all work and family responsibilities is to give each parent one night off during the week. If that’s not going to work (or if you want more time!) another approach is to trade off on weekends, so each party has time for his or her own pursuits. Handled right, this can still leave plenty of space for family time too.

As I look at how we spent this past weekend, I saw that this was our approach. On Friday night, my husband took our four kids (and a friend) to a showing of The Polar Express at our church. I used this time with no one else in the house making noise to record 10 episodes of Before Breakfast. I recognize that this is not technically me-time (it’s part of my job) but I identified this as a time when none of my neighbors would be making noise with construction or leaf blowing, and I got some me-time during the work day during the week (a pre-natal massage on Monday, runs during the work day on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday). So it seemed like a good trade-off to extend my work day to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, given my ability to move time around.

On Saturday morning, I took the kids because my husband ran the Philadelphia half-marathon. He left the house around 7 a.m. and returned at noon. During this time, I took the two littler kids to karate (The older ones stayed home — a benefit of older kids! My 12-year-old now dutifully texts me every hour or so to report on the situation. We had to hash this out as a policy, but it works.) We had family lunch, all sitting down together for a meal, and then my husband took the four kids to a ski shop to rent skis for the winter season. I used this time to run, read, and practice playing Linus and Lucy on the piano. (Listening to the recording, I’m realizing I should probably enlist the 10-year-old to play percussion to accompany me if I’m going to get this right).

Upon my husband’s return, we traded off again, with him going to Costco. As with my Friday evening recording session, this might not sound like me-time but…trust me, in our household, going shopping all by yourself with no children falls in this category. He really seems to love bulk buying peanut butter and tortillas and he started on some of our Christmas shopping too.

We had family dinner when he came back, then did our family activity of going to the Philadelphia Zoo’s LumiNature light show. (Ok, not entirely the whole family — the 12-year-old decided to go to a friend’s party instead — but most of the family!). Somewhat oddly, the animal exhibits were all closed, which was kind of disappointing, but the lights were pretty, and it’s always nice to have a reason to be outside together at night.

I didn’t sleep well Saturday night (hopefully only about 7 weeks or so to go of this…). Waking at 3:45 a.m. and being unable to go back to sleep resulted in some me-time, which I used to run on the treadmill and work, but it’s not my favorite form of it. In any case, after church my husband took the four kids to Frozen 2. I used the time to nap. Later in the afternoon, I stayed with the kids and he went to the gym to lift weights (well, with the 12-year-old, but he works out on his own).

Then we had another family dinner (Costco finds: surf and turf, corn…) and had a calendar meeting to figure out how we can continue to make our schedules work!

16 thoughts on “Weekend: How we make me-time

  1. 1. This sounds like a lovely balanced weekend 2. My husband shares an affinity for the big bulk stores. I do not understand this as buying 12 hamburger buns typically results in throwing out 8 hamburger buns unless some get stashed in the freezer. However, I must say their prices on things like contact lens solution can’t be beat! I hate the crowds so this task will remain my husbands 🙂

    1. @Lori C – yep, I hate wasting food and money which means that bulk buying holds limited appeal for me. I have tried sending my husband with a “do not buy” list but on some level…not a fight worth having.

    1. @Linda- I’m with you on this one, which is why I did not go (and told my husband he didn’t need to go! But…he likes it). Actually, in general I’ve been discouraged from making the Costco trips for my family, as I am an under-buyer and I’ll just refuse to pick up giant packages of tortillas and such.

  2. This is very similar to what my husband and I do. We are kind of ‘ships passing in the night’ for good chunks of the weekend but it’s what works. He grocery shops (not me time but he chooses to do this instead of using instacart) while I watch our son/take him to swimming lessons. I often run errands during nap time and he takes care of him when he wakes up. Errands aren’t ‘me time’ but they are more enjoyable without having to take a toddler in and out of a car seat! Then there is more trading off depending on what we have to do that weekend – like yesterday I watched the toddler while he cleaned the gutters and dealt with some other outside stuff. We need to work on trading off childcare duties for actual me time, but we recently bought and sold a house and moved in this past weekend so me time is a luxury we are kind of putting off for awhile… He will get some me time next weekend to go watch a football game with some HS friends. We were all invited but I told my husband to just go without us and I would stay home with the toddler. The friend hosting it doesn’t have kids and while they like kids, it’s hard to entertain a toddler in a kid-free home for 3-4 hours!

    1. @Lisa – good call to skip the 3-4 hours in a kid-free house with a toddler. It will just feel miserable!

  3. My husband loves Costco too, and so do many other dads I know. So hooray, this is one errand I don’t have to do! I avoid the place at all costs, especially on weekends.

  4. Laura, completely unrelated, but suggested post: I would LOVE an updated analysis on the economics of breastfeeding post you wrote 9 years ago. Going into Kid 5, am wondering if you’re thinking about this differently.

    (I’ll note it’s completely selfish – I’m due in Feb and am overwhelmed on what this will look like for me!)

    1. @A – interesting question! I just find it fascinating that various breastfeeding promotion literature touts it as “free.” Um, only if you value the mother’s time at nothing. I have breastfed all my babies and plan to nurse this one too but there is definitely an opportunity cost to turning down travel in, say, March because the round-the-clock pumping sounds like a giant pain.

      1. True! I think the hard part about it, I suppose is how you value breastfeeding outside of the pure financials. How do you value the health benefits vs. bonding with Dad if bottle feeding (or pump and feed)? Or not sleeping. Especially when it’s something you’ve never done before.
        So complicated! I guess I’ll learn soon enough :).

  5. The “me time” on the weekends is continuing to work wonderfully for us! I spent a couple hours shopping with my mom on Saturday, my husband got a long workout in on Sunday morning. In between we were able to watch Home Alone, go out to lunch as a family, play some board games and go to the pet store. Our weekends feel full in a great way but also recharging which I never thought was possible. I even wrote out my Christmas cards (with personal notes, inspired by your Before Breakfast episode last week!). Glad you were able to get some time this weekend too, thank you again for everything!

    1. @Jennifer T – congrats on getting those Christmas cards written! We ordered and received ours, but have not gotten to the writing stage yet 🙂

  6. My husband has been ill so I’ve been looking after our toddler and on Sunday, I walked to the grocery store just to be alone. 20 minute walk listening to a podcast, a stroll through the shop, and a 20 minute walk home and I did feel better.

  7. This sound like a lovely weekend, and I couldn’t help but imagining how my sister (and her 1-husband, 3-kids, 1-dog, 1-cat, 2-hamsters, many-fish family) could inspire from it. Somehow, all I could think of is when do you do house chores? I feel like when my sister is not working or taking care of the kids, she’s always cleaning or doing laundry…

    1. @Audrey – I spend some of my time doing laundry and cooking/cleaning on weekends (as does my husband) but it really doesn’t take that much time. Here and there 15 minutes on my time log.

  8. I’m glad to hear you stayed home while your husband went and did something fun with the kids (the Friday night gig). I always feel a twinge of guilt about that, but sometimes what I need most is just a quiet house.

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