Five weekend hours — what to do?

This Saturday I faced an interesting time management question: What should I do with 5 (mostly) free hours?

The scenario was that my 3-year-old was with his Saturday sitter for the day (an arrangement we have partly to enable us to do things with the older kids — and drive them to activities without dragging the 3-year-old everywhere. They go out and about and to her house). My husband took the 8-year-old for his “Daddy Day.” They went biking at Blue Mountain in the Poconos and fishing at a stocked pond near there. There was also a Wawa stop, so good times! My 13-year-old is still off at camp. In the morning, I drove the 11-year-old and a friend of hers to another girl’s birthday party, and that turned out to be an all day affair (painting pottery, lunch, swimming — my kids really are living their best lives!). I drove my 16-year-old to his voice lesson from 11 a.m. to noon (well, 12:20, it ran over) and then brought him to Starbucks and ate lunch at home.

So then it was about 1:00. The 3-year-old would be back at 6:00, so until then, I only had an older teen around the house, and he was planning to work on his online physics assignments. I had five hours to do as I wished.

Now I will note that one side effect of having a lot of kids and a lot going on is that this felt like a rather weighty question. I was not sure I would get five free hours at my house with no little kids around again anytime soon. So I felt like I needed to spend it “well” — on something that would be rejuvenating. I ultimately decided it was best to spend this time on little around-the-house pleasures that are harder to do when other people are around.

So, first, I played the piano for about 45 minutes. Then I did my daily rituals (writing 2 lines in the sonnet; reading Jane Austen) for 15 minutes. I then drove to our local library (only about 5 minutes away) and browsed the stacks for a while, ultimately getting some fun design books and other reading.

I was home around 2:45 and I went to read on the little upstairs porch outside my bedroom. The weather was not too hot (low 80s, a little breezy) so this felt quite nice. I spent 45 minutes doing this. Then I decided to go do a quick run through my strength training exercises. After that, I pulled out my bicycle, and did a 20 minute ride up and down my street and driveway.

At this point it was around 4:20 p.m. and I decided to do a quick bit of chores — emptying the dishwasher (no magic fairies had appeared to do it…) and tidying up the kitchen. I only spent 10 minutes or so on this, though, and was trying to figure out what to do next when I saw that the new issue of Southern Living had come in the mail. So, it was back outside with my magazine to sit on the hammock for the next hour reading that. This is always a favorite summer activity, and the breezy, not-so-hot weather made it perfect.

(Well, except for the fact that I was nursing two bee stings from my morning run — I must have brushed up by a hive alongside the road because I soon had several bees swarming around me. I batted a few off but two got me…I guess nothing is ever pure bliss in our physical bodies…)

After that, it was a quick walk through the yard, then I played the piano for a few more minutes until the 3-year-old returned. Then it was full-on with him for three hours until he went to bed at 9! (The Daddy Day contingent returned around 8:30 p.m.).

Anyway, it was reasonably relaxing. I know eventually I’ll be at a point in life where five free hours doesn’t feel so rare that I need to be careful with it, but I’m not there yet. I’m curious what others would do with five weekend hours with no little kids in the house.

11 thoughts on “Five weekend hours — what to do?

  1. I had this recently and it was glorious! I spent half the day blitzing projects that I hadn’t wanted to do with people around (b/c I was getting rid of their stuff) and the other half reading. I didn’t get the good weather so just curled up on the sofa and read.

    1. @Coree- sounds good! Having just purged a lot of stuff the weekend before, I wasn’t looking to do any more organizing. But yep, that’s a good thing to do uninterrupted…

  2. I didn’t have the same experience but did have a relatively low key Saturday after lots of recent busy days so spent time doing enjoyable, relaxing things (after my son’s 8am baseball game) including reading in the hammock, watching some Never Have I Ever with my 12 yo daughter, playing cribbage with my husband and going for a solo walk in my neighborhood. It was a day very well spent!

  3. Ooh this is a fun question, I have a 2 and a 6 yo so this is very relevant to me. I would spend it: a) taking a long leisurely walk to the local coffee shop and having a coffee solo before walking back, journaling and planning, reading, having a nap, and probably tidying the house without the kids around to immediately ruin the effect!

    1. Wow, 5 free hours sounds blissful!! I’m so glad you enjoyed your day. It is SO HOT in Texas right now, so as lovely as outdoor reading sounds, I think my activities would be primarily inside. I think I would tackle some of the unpacked boxes from our move a year ago that are difficult to unpack with my toddler around. I would do some form of a workout and perhaps some baking or cooking. I would curl up with a book at some point (currently reading Life in Five Senses) and maybe work on a puzzle. This was fun to think about!

    2. @Sophie – love the coffee shop idea. There is one by my house that I keep saying I want to run to and have a cup of coffee (and probably walk home – harder to run with a lot of coffee in my stomach…) but it hasn’t happened yet…

  4. Read and sleep, both preferably outside. Not much else. Thoroughly enjoy the quiet, which seems non-existent in the summer holidays with four kids out of school.

    1. @Marthe – yep, four kids kind of removes all possibility of silence! (Unless they’re up to something no good…)

  5. I think this is a great topic and something a working mother and mothers in general think about say after years of working and parenting in our society w little free time – about ok what do I do when I have free time ? Not having had this time and then having it and having so many options it can be overwhelming … is Netflix or streamed TV out vs say a movie w a set end after two hours …
    I think the way you speak here about having a list of smaller goals
    Like 2 lines of sonnet or 15 minutes of playing an instrument like start small w smaller increments of time –
    and this might result in more time of flow being found or not I. Thee aspirational activities but either way progress has been had and engagement occurred … love this !

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