When I returned to work full time earlier this year, I quickly realized how valuable my weekends were. Once again, I found myself longing for them. I knew that I didn’t want them to continue to be filled with errands and pit stops as we tried to squeeze in tons of activities and visit loved ones. I wanted to make the time that I did have with my family more meaningful. Even if it meant we ate at home and seldom left the house. Even if it meant I had to wear the same outfit twice the next week, because I never got around to the laundry.
When I left to resume solely working from home until I start part-time work outside of the home, I had a newfound appreciation for those two days that are often filled with tasks from our to-do lists. This was our time — Daddy was off from work, big sister out of school, and with that came a chance to be together beyond dinnertime.
These days, we are still running errands here and there, but we are also making it a point to slow down. I am making a point to slow down. To catch my breath, to feel and experience some of the things I may have missed as I rushed through the work week. For many of us, weekends are the only days when we have our entire family together for a long period of time.
Here are five ways we try to make the most of our weekends:
When I was little, many of my birthdays were celebrated with my brother and my parents. Even when they were no longer a couple, my mom and dad still made it a point to ensure that my earliest memories where filled with family and carrot cake. I hated the carrot cake (except for the carrot on top made of frosting) but I adored them.
Over the years, I discovered how much I enjoyed throwing parties. I loved coming up with creative ideas and attempting to be crafty. Frequent trips to the craft store and last-minute Target runs became my norm — as did pulling all-nighters the evening before, finishing up every last detail, which often included some last-minute idea that was just perfect for the celebration (or so I told myself). The day of, I hurriedly ran around, enlisting my mom for help, starting to put up decorations, delegating tasks to my husband, and usually running out of time to make everything just the way I had envisioned it. When guests arrived, I anxiously made rounds, often never eating until the end or even eating at all. I was doing everything I thought I was supposed to be doing — tending to my guests and stopping long enough to take a family photo by the cake.
Last year, after falling into this routine at Lola’s first birthday — fussing over the details — I realized that I was worried about the wrong details. Thankfully, despite not getting to enjoy a taco from the caterer, I did take time out to sit with my girl and celebrate her special day.
I had become so fixated on creating a picture perfect party that I was missing out on creating those perfectly imperfect memories. The things you experience when you stop fixing flower arrangements or adjusting the banners and sit down and watch and interact with your child. The ones you will miss out on if you’re in the kitchen icing cupcakes because you didn’t want to buy them from the grocery store. Or you’re busy talking to all 70 of your party guests.
Last year’s celebration was beautiful, and I am happy that so many people we loved, and who love us and our sweet girl, were there alongside us. Even so, there’s been a shift in the way that we do celebrations in our family. At least for now. And it feels right for us.
This year, we kept things simple.
As magical as motherhood is, there are moments when I find myself knee deep in frustration. Toddlers have impeccable timing, and there are times when I struggle to see things for what they really are. Times when I am so fixated on me that I succumb to frustration or dissatisfaction. Moments when the fact that there are now Cheerios and milk all over the floor when I’m already running late, feels like the end of the world when in reality it’s not. It’s but a mere moment in the trajectory of life. A small hiccup in the collection of moments that make up our everydays. Or maybe it’s not a hiccup. Maybe it’s an opportunity for me to relearn a valuable lesson and teach it to my children at the same time.
From time to time, I surprise myself with an ability to see the silver lining in what had the potential to be perceived as something negative. And the more I do it — the more I strive to look at things differently — the more room I have in my heart for the joy that comes forth from mothering. Here are a few silver linings I’ve come to see along the way: