Time will be filled with something

We’ve had a lot of big summer adventure weekends lately, and have another coming up, so this one wound up being more low key. It wasn’t for everyone, and it wasn’t necessarily supposed to be. Max the dog needed to be brought to a training program where he boards for a bit (we’ve been calling it doggie camp). So we were all going to go (about 90 minutes), and then go to a lobster restaurant we really like nearby, and then hike in a nature preserve and possibly stop by the beach. In other words, a big adventure.

But when I got home from my 10-mile long run Saturday morning, there was a rebellion afoot. Only one child wanted to go (the 11-year-old, who loves lobster, and who is the kid who is doing a lot of the dog training). So my husband drove him and the dog and I wound up staying home with everyone else. Sunday also featured no particular plans, though we did have care for the toddler for a few hours (which produced some sense of needing to make the most of that time).

Time is always filled with something. So there were some random local trips (drug store, Old Navy), which may or may not have needed to be done on a weekend, but were done because there was nothing crowding them out. We played in the driveway. We did a quick pool dip. I read in the tub during the baby’s nap on Saturday, since that was on my list of “enjoy this house” summer fun activities, and we also went over to the new house to walk around the yard a bit. I took the big kids out for dinner on Saturday after my husband got home (he stayed home with the toddler; going out to eat with toddlers is on my not-fun list). I took my daughter to a “blessing of the backpacks” event at church on Sunday (the other children weren’t so keen, though they were happy enough with the little backpack charms I made that were blessed for them).

There’s a certain trope in various minimalist writing that we’re so busy during the week that we should aim to do nothing on the weekend. But honestly, it is impossible to do “nothing,” especially in a household of five children. Time is always filled with something, so the question is just what. This weekend was fine as these things go, but it was not somehow more magical or restorative than others that are more carefully planned. I enjoyed the things I might have planned into a weekend — like going out to eat with the big kids — but I probably would have enjoyed them more if I’d had the chance to look forward to them (this was decided in the moment). I am glad I’d had the 10-mile long run planned into the weekend because that might have been hard to engineer otherwise. I was also really glad to stop running at 10 miles, so we shall see if 13 happens in a few weeks….

For those who wondered about the apple surplus, I made a lot of applesauce (see photo, following commenter Catherine’s suggestion to just chop up the apples, peels and all, and simmer them down), and my husband baked three pies. We’re getting close to making it through the bushel!

In other news: Speaking of plans, I thought this was an interesting piece in the NY Times about bucket lists. The young author, facing down her own likely early death, was counseled to make a bucket list. The trouble with many of these lists, though, is they can be more about checking off items than actually enjoying life. Would you be happier going to 50 countries, or really spending time in a handful? Also, many people put skydiving on their lists, even though it’s unclear that a life that has included skydiving is in any way better than one that does not…

4 thoughts on “Time will be filled with something

  1. Weekends (and downtime in general) are just not very relaxing with kids. Or, I guess, a specific subset of kids.
    Several of my friends have kids who just like to putter around the house; they do art projects or play in the driveway or cuddle the dog and read a book independently.

    My kids love to be stimulated, adventuring…doing something. So it’s easier for me to plan things in than try to “relax” at home (unless screens are involved and even that has a lifespan).

    I suspect these minimalists you speak of either don’t have young children, or they have a very particular breed of them.

    Yesterday, by the time we got home from church, I was exhausted. But I realized that if the kids had been elsewhere I WOULDN’T have wanted to rest. I had lots of energy for activity…I just didn’t have energy for activities that required parental support.

    1. My kids are the same way about stimulated and adventuring. I wonder if there’s anything to do to have more of the former type of kids or if we get the kids we get. Mine are 2 and 4 so I delude myself with thoughts that they will be more chill as they grow up..

      1. Honestly, I think you get the kids you get.

        Mine will have their moments of getting inspired to create something independently or read a book quietly, but mostly they just want to be engaged with someone (bonus points if its an adult).

        I DO make my kids spend a lot of time doing things independently; sometimes 1.5 hours of room time during a busy day (they’re 6.5 and 10.5) and I also have them go to their rooms relatively early at night. So they have LOTS of time to cultivate these skills…they just don’t seek it out beyond the times I insist they do low-key things.

  2. I feel like whatever time we spend at home really ends up being filled with either housework (for me) or screentime (kids). My favorite weekends are the ones that include a lot of family outdoor activity, church, and some adult socializing. In Norway all the stores are closed on Sundays so shopping on Saturdays can be miserably crowded and I try to avoid it. Now my kids are big enough that they can run some errands by themselves, which is really nice.

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