I’ve noticed that a lot of people on social media are talking about how weekdays and weekends feel like one and the same during the shutdown. I guess since they aren’t going anywhere or getting dressed for anything special, all the days are blending together. This weekend, I noticed the opposite. For our family, weekends during the shutdown actually feel like weekends, because I am finally giving my kids and myself permission to relax.
Pre-pandemic, when we used to spend most of our days away from each other at work and school, the weekends seemed like our only real opportunity for quality family time. For some reason, I didn’t think quality family time could happen on our couch. I felt pressure to give my kids the most action packed, fun-filled couple of days. Like it was my responsibility, as their mother, to plan noteworthy activities that would create meaningful memories of us all spending time together as a family. Memories that Mazzy and Harlow could reflect back on later in life and think̦— Wow. My mom gave me a really great childhood.
I felt guilty if we barely left the house, especially if we spent too much of that time on screens. Nobody was going to remember the day we watched every episode of Fuller House, like they would a day spent apple picking or at a museum. The irony, of course, being that many of those events were battles to get out the door and fights for family photos all together once we were there. Sometimes, you need the photos to solidify the memory, you know. That’s actually true. I have heard my kids speak fondly about a moment in time, just because they remember the smiles in the photo, which have outlasted whatever tantrums they had on the actual day. It works on me too.
Also, in pre-pandemic times, if you had an idea for going somewhere with your kids, odds were that many other families had the same idea. So, there were crowds to deal with, screaming kids that weren’t yours, and generally, a lesser experience than what you expected. Not that there was no fun whatsoever. We almost always had fun at some point. But there was also usually an initial period when I had to pretend like everything was awesome to get the rest of my family on board, despite whatever factors we were dealing with (crowds, bad weather, expensive entrance fees, etc.).
All that planning, herding and enthusiastic faux smiling to get to the happy part of the day was EXHAUSTING.
Still, I felt like a good mom at the end of the day. I have always had a special knack for selectively remembering the positive stuff. I wrote a whole book about it! I have also always been someone who loves DOING STUFF. Taking advantage of the city. Taking advantage of the weather. Taking advantage of the time while my kids are still young and want to hang out with me. That’s who I have always been.
Now, that we are together in the house all day, every day, the weekends are a time for actual relaxing.
Yes, we spend a lot of our time on the couch, watching television, but that’s okay. We have just spent the week teaching them social studies and long division. We have already been good parents. They have been good kids. Not to mention the fact that we are all suffering through our first global pandemic. WE HAVE EARNED RELAXING ON THE COUCH.
We don’t spend our whole weekend watching TV. There is lots of play time in the house and in the yard too. But, we haven’t put any real restrictions on screen time. In addition to entertaining themselves, screens are how they communicate with their friends and their extended family. It also seems much easier to fit in both screen time and play time when we stay at home and remove the act of “getting ready” from the equation. I feel like we spent half of our lives getting ready to leave the house.
At first, we had no choice, but now I realize, I’m way more of a homebody than I originally thought. I love being at home, doing nothing with my kids. I love sitting on the kitchen floor with my kids and playing with the puppy. I love watching the kids garden with Mike and then walking over to my little hanging chair to scroll through Instagram and watch Tiktoks on my phone alone. I love taking walks with Mike around the neighborhood in my pajamas and puffy coat .I love sitting on the couch and watching television with them. Their shows, my shows, reality shows, etc. I just used to feel guilty doing it. Some of the most fun I’ve had with my kids ever is watching old seasons of Survivor and getting really invested in the contestants with them. I think, in the end, I might remember Harlow quoting Chicken getting voted out first in Survivor China (he screams “DAMN!!!!” in a Southern accent) way more than I’ll remember our trip to the MET or the Museum of Ice Cream. I bet the kids will too. We died laughing and there might not be a photo of it, but those smiles were 100% real.
Even when things return to normal (or something closer to normal), I hope I remember these weekends in quarantine. I hope I don’t overschedule us. Or think I need to do something noteworthy to have a successful weekend. Or feel guilty for doing nothing.
I hope I never forget how valuable our time is just relaxing as a family at home.