Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Day Off

What do you do when you get a day off? I always imagine that families in which the mother isn't working weekends are always up to some great adventure. Taking the kids to the petting zoo, or picking berries on the farm, or just inventing clever games at home. You know what I want to do when I finally get a day off? Not a damn thing. I don't *want* to do anything. I want to sit. I want to veg out with a book or movies or my laptop. I don't want an itinerary or an adventure. I just want to be. So of course, then I feel incredibly guilty. Here I get a precious few hours with my darling children, who are growing up faster than I can believe, and I don't want to *do* anything with them.

How are my children going to remember me? Mommy, finally home from work, lying listlessly on the couch, book in one hand, computer near the other? This isn't how I want to be remembered. When I try to go and do kid-friendly activities, I find myself incredibly short tempered and longing for the comfort of home. I know that 4 days off a month is just too little down time, and things will get better once my job situation changes. In the meantime, what do you do with your little ones when you have the time to spend? Any suggestions for low key activities for 5 year olds and 18 month olds? I want to start making some good memories for my kids that don't involve the movie theater. Thank you in advance!


  1. I definitely think small adventures are when both my kids and I have the most fun. It helps me to get out of the house with them for a couple hours every day off, but i definitely think most of the time what is most fun is something low-key (park, half-mile leisurely walk in our neighborhood or in a park where there is a stream where we stop to look at any and everything, local library, a small (and I mean small) nature center nearby that feeds the various reptiles at 11 am on sundays). For ages, we took a music together class on sat ams - sometimes just my husband went, sometimes just me, sometimes both of us. They both loved it, and I had fun, but it required no mental energy from me (teacher leads the singing). we would go out for grilled cheeses afterwards. both my kids loved it. This was helpful as it was fun, close by, and scheduled so we didn't waste time thinking/pondering what to do. Then, we would come home and everyone was happy to veg out or nap. i don't know where you live, but personally i would think low-key as the best adventures

  2. Well, Stubble is 17 now and doesn't care to spend too much time with parents, but our last outing was to a boat show where he and his girlfriend marveled at the multi-million dollar yachts - he loved boat shows as a child as well (just hang on to hands). When he was little we always went on "adventures" - we are lucky to live in Escondido California just minutes from the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park so there was always an adventure to have there...a new baby Rhino to see, monkeys to laugh at, at one point, Kangaroo babies to hand feed...another favorite was taking a picnic to a park with a stream and floating sticks and following them as far as possible downstream. amd then there is the beach with sand dollars and anemones and sand crabs. Simple is best...and the most cost effective.

  3. I relate to your post, with little time off I like to spend as much as possible IN my house!
    I usually take my 2 yo son to the library (5yo daughter joins us occ). We usually go on my post-call day. I sit on a comfortable couch and he gathers books from the children's section for me to read to him. We stay a total of 30min, and usually take a couple of books home, but I think it works well for a small piece of quality time when I'm exhausted.
    When I'm less tired I take the kids to local playground or even just set up a chair outside my house and let them scooter/bike the sidewalk while I watch (and sometimes do some computer work).

  4. Games - we played games - Go Fish, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, marbles, pick up sticks - things that big and tiny hands can do. And then there are the made up games - close your eyes and name three green things in the room, tell me about your day or school or your friends or what you want to be when you grow up, draw a picture (either of you) and the other tells a story about the picture. Looking at picture books and having the older child make up a story about the pictures (ignoring the text) was entertaining to the younger. I think that the major thing was being listened to and having the attention of the adult. We still have game night once a week and the oldest is 25.

  5. My mom was a stay at home my dad worked (and still works) 60+ hours a week. I have faint memories from pre-school and elementary days of my dad coming home just before I was going to bed (or getting up to see him leave for work).

    BUT - I have great memories of family walks! We most often just walked around the small village we lived in, and sometimes we drove 15 minutes out to walk some small mountain or something. It was great! We got to be outside, move around, and best of all - hold mom and dad's hand and talk to them.

    I'm not sure how long these walks were (30 minutes, 4 hours, I have NO idea), but it was about the quality of the time my siblings and I spent with them on those days.

  6. My girls are grown now with their own babies. On my days off we went to the library, to the park for a picnic (I admit, we stopped at Wendy's to get the food), the children's museum. In the winter when the weather was bad we did craft projects (we made Christmas ornaments, gifts, etc.) Oftentimes I was so darn tired and they would be sniping at each other and I used to wondered "why the heck I bothered and maybe I should have just worked today" BUT. They have both told what great memories they have of those afternoons. Even when the goose in the park cornered the little one on the picnic table. They remember that. Not that mama was strung out and pooped. So take heart and keep on keepin' on.

  7. The public library!
    (or the bookstore)
    The zoo in good weather, indeed.
    We just tried duckpin bowling for the first time.
    We go out to lunch both weekend days.
    To grandma's, if possible.
    To the ice cream shop.
    The park.
    All pretty ordinary but all enjoyable because it's time together.

  8. I work 3 days per week, and I can tell you that not all of the off days are barrels of fun. But some are. I have 3 kids (5, 3.5, and 1). We actually do go to a pick your own farm at least once a week for the entire growing season from May to October. The kids have a ball. They eat and can be messy, and I don't have to clean up the kitchen from it. They are relatively free to roam safely (i.e can be 100 feet away as long as I can still see them down the row of blackberries).

    We also go to the library at least once a week. They have story hours, which can give you (or me) some downtime you don't have to feel guilty about, but you weren't trapped inside.

    And we actually go fairly often to our local kids' science center, which is set up incredibly well to accomodate the interest of kids of all ages as well as some dorky doctor parents. I don't have to watch them like a hawk in several places because they are set up well to prevent escaping!

    One thing my mom used to do when we were kids (especially in winter) was scavenger hunts. If one of your kids can read, then it's really easy. Otherwise, you draw or cut out pics from magazines to tell them where to find the next clue. Basically, give them a card to begin, which tells them where to go for the next clue card (e.g. the dryer), which will hold a card telling them to go look under their pillow, and so on. We had 15 or 20 steps to do, and at the end, there would either be a surprise or a card telling us what we were going to do as a surprise (e.g. make popcorn). It surely took my mom a little time to put it together, but it occupied us for a good while and develop us sibs as a "team".

    Good luck!

  9. Feeding ducks at the park. And then the stale bread doesn't go to waste....

  10. Oh I so feel your pain - the last thing I want to do on a day off is get dressed and go out. However, I'm always lamenting to my hubby that I'm not creating memories with my 7 & 11 year olds the way I should be. A catch-22! He echos what many other commenters have said - that it's not about the big stuff - it's about showing up for the little things & doing it consistently (not mind numbingly - just consistently) I'm learning - because this is a process - that showing up for lunch at school, or going to the farmer's market, or even going somewhere I just like to go - like the bookstore or the bakery - with regularity builds memories in my kids. One of our best days recently was at my favorite bakery that happens to have wi-fi - I had coffee, kids had hot chocolate - so we were all happy, and we looked at the crazy cats of "I can haz a Cheezburger". All three of us were cackling like a group of geese! It gives me a big grin just to think about it. Give yourself a break - do things that you like to do (within reason - somehow pedicure does not fall into this category. Darn!) & your kids will like them too. MWAS

  11. Build a tent in front of the TV. Load it up with pillows and pop some popcorn. Then snuggle and watch movies together. :o) Best of both worlds.

  12. Turning on some music and dancing with the kids is always fun. They love it, it burns calories and lets out energy, and you can do it at home on a cold winter day.

    I've come home from work many days to find the stereo blasting and my stay-at-home husband and three young daughters (5, 2, and 1) circling the kitchen island, with their shirts off and cheeks pink, doing crazy dances while giggling up a storm.

  13. Wow, guys! There are so many wonderful ideas and suggestions; I can't wait to try them out. You all inspire me! I thank you, and I assure you that my children thank you! :)


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