Confession: My kids don’t have school on Friday and we aren’t planning to do anything. Having an extra day off together is a great opportunity and I plan to make the most of it—by staying in.
I have three teenagers who work hard in school and have hobbies and friends that take up a lot of their free time. They’re tired, they get burned out, and I’ve finally realized there is nothing wrong with having big chunks of time and nothing planned.
These days when I hear other parents talking about their plans for a long weekend, whether they’re hitting the slopes or throwing a party, I feel zero guilt about having zero plans.
But that wasn’t always the case.
I used to feel like I should do better and try harder, like I wasn’t manufacturing enough epic moments for my kids. So I’d fill all of our down time with something exciting to do.
“It will be great!” I’d say.
“We are going to have so much fun,” I’d say.
The truth was, we were hanging on by a thread and I was making plans because everyone else was doing it. The idealistic picture I had in my mind never came to fruition. In fact, it usually fell flat and I’d drive home, on the brink of losing it, thinking, “We should have just stayed home.”
Maybe I was trying too hard. Or maybe I expected my three teens to try harder and appreciate all the things we were doing together. I’m still not sure what motivated me, but I’ve decided to leave it all in my rear-view mirror.
I started listening to the voice that kept telling me to just stay home if that’s what we wanted to do. Instead of feeling like we should be going to that outdoor concert, water park, or snow tubing hill, we could just stay home. Relief would wash over me every time I realized I could make that choice. I soon realized we could have some amazing times at home, sitting in front of the television with our favorite snacks and no expectations.
It may not be on trend, but staying home with my kids is awesome.
Maybe it’s because we don’t have to be anywhere on time and no one has to look presentable. Or maybe it’s because we’re all so tired and need some real downtime to catch our breath. Staying home gives me a chance to relax instead of feeling like I’m racing to catch up with everyone else.
I can’t help but look back to my own childhood in the ’80s and ’90s. Most of my favorite memories are of the times we stayed home, even though at the time I thought I was bored. I feel like I bond most with my kids when we are doing something as simple as eating take out while binge watching America’s Got Talent or Parenthood. My kids are just as happy and content in these moments, maybe more so, as when we’ve spent the day hiking or playing mini-golf.
I’m not saying we never go anywhere or do anything, we love our social life. I can’t wait for my daughter to start her lacrosse season because I love cheering her on and going out for ice cream afterward. I also have big plans for my kids to help me with our flower garden this spring and we’re planning a trip this summer. But just because there’s an opportunity to do something doesn’t mean we have to do it. It’s okay to slow down.
A quiet night in on a regular basis is something that is good for my entire family. And now that we’re taking the downtime we need, we’re all a lot more cheerful.