Before I was a parent, weekends represented a peaceful time dedicated to my own needs and wants; after a long hard week I would look forward to spending the weekend pursuing sports or activities of my choosing at a time and pace of my choosing. Now as a parent, I look back on those days as utter hedonism; needless to say weekends now have taken on a different pace.
The alarm does not have a chance to ring as I am woken up by one or all of my children ready and waiting for an exciting day of activities. It is as if I take off my day job suit on a Friday and then put on a Butlin's Red Coat every Saturday and Sunday morning.
Kid’s activities abound; football class, gymnastics class, kids parties and playground visits take up vast swathes of time over the weekend and as the family has gotten larger, the busier the schedule. More often than not, my wife and I say our goodbyes in the morning as we both head off to ferry the children around these different classes and sometimes see less of each other on weekends than we would do in the week.
I have recently taken a breath and questioned this frantic commitment to busy weekends with the kids, packing their days full of activities. They are all at school and work hard all week and like myself are exhausted at the end of the week. I have to confess that I do not recall my childhood weekends being spent busily running around being enrolled into any number of activities. In the Winter I played rugby, in the Spring football and in the Summer cricket. But I did not start playing these sports until I was about 7 years old; before then we would just spend time together as a family at the weekend. Being bored is a vital part of childhood; from boredom, imagination and industry are created and rather than rely on permanent third party stimulation, you find your own fun.
Reflecting on how we have been conducting the weekends with the kids, I think that it has been bizarre in some respects; as the people around us have chosen to endlessly pack weekends with activities, so have we and without realising it we have have moved dramatically away from the type of restful family time together that I believe is so important.
Peaceful time together as a family unit at least once a week seems incredibly appealing and is the sort of joyous aspect of life that can be so easily 'marketed' out of existence by the continued messaging that reminds us that we need to keep busy, and the desire to not disadvantage your children by them missing out on whatever experiences their peers may be having. In truth by following this treadmill of activities, they have been missing out on one of the favourite aspects of my childhood; lazy weekends.
So moving forwards, boredom awaits for my children in the weekends ahead; and most importantly more time together as a family.