Fridays are the New Mondays

During my high school years, Sunday evenings triggered a festering pit of dread in my gut. My father would turn on 60 Minutes only to find that the “goddamn football game” wasn’t over yet. It was as predictable as the fact that the next morning would bring a new week of school, requiring me to wake up too early, only to fall asleep in geometry class, and awaken 40 minutes later with my cheek resting next to a shimmering pool of desk drool.

Now, 25 years later, Sunday nights bring, not only my favorite television shows — unencumbered by America’s favorite lite beer and nacho fueled homoerotic team wrestling event — but also a feeling of relief that the weekend is finally over and my family can get back to its routine: the boys off to school and various classes; I up to the confines of my office; and my wife, Lindsay, off to Trader Joes, or her “dance garage,” and after that, maybe an abandoned warehouse to angrily chop wood, or whatever else she does with the hour or two of free time she gets each weekday.

I understand that in families where both parents work outside of the home, weekends represent a time when everyone can be together and blissfully argue about the television and attempt picnics that end abruptly when someone gets stung by a bee. But given that neither Lindsay or I work traditional jobs, and we’re home all goddamn day, weekends feel like that 15 minutes at the end of a dinner party when everyone is slightly reluctant and searching for their coats.

These days it’s Friday night that causes  a feeling of trepidation. Not because we don’t enjoy all being together, but because, somehow, we always fail to make plans. It’s not our fault; there’s literally nothing to do here—ever. We live in a commuter town in New Jersey, and given that roughly 80% of the other residents go to Manhattan every weekday, leaving at 7am and returning at 7pm, it feels like an off-season ski village around here. Sure, there are parks and playgrounds, but in the winter they’re usually empty because all the other families appear to be members of an exclusive napping club to which we’ve never been invited. Many of them have extended family nearby whom they visit, and so do we. Lindsay’s sister, brother in law and their kids live in Brooklyn, and we sometimes make the trail of traffic tears to visit them, but usually one of our kids — neither of whom is supposed to nap anymore — falls asleep on the way home and as a result, stays up until 10:30pm, which should frankly be illegal.

There are other things to do, like wander around Target, go to the village bookstore, or spend $140 for a one hour visit to the Lincoln Science Center where we eat hotdogs until we puke, but beyond that, we’re at home trying to find puzzle pieces and thinking that there must be more to Saturday and Sunday than inventing inside games with rules everyone can agree on.  Luckily, the crocuses are blooming and our neighbors are slowly starting to hang around outside again. It’s been a long winter, and I’m ready to start grilling steaks and pounding O’Douls.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

25 comments On Fridays are the New Mondays

  • maschachaussette

    and i thought i was the only one who didn’t know what to do with my kids on weekends. i live in switzerland and we also have really have nothing to do with a 3yo and a 1yo for like 6 months of the year…well we can go to a germ filled indoorplayground which grosses me out everytime i even think of the spit and snot covered plastic balls…and maybe an indoor pool. but that is rather harder work, than time to enjoy with a toddler that loves to drown himself …

  • I’m home all* week; finely layering together my sanity moments between the 4yr olds half-day school, the toddlers nap’hour’, and the school pickup line to get the 13 yr old. Only to have the drama/meltdown/sarcasum sandwhich hit me all at once on Saturday morning. Did I mention my husband works Saturdays? I plan to throw cereal at them until the dew dries off the grass and then play the ole time classic game of nerf guns. Which is me sitting in a lawn chair shotting my kids as they run back and forth.

  • This is exactly our lives with our 2.5 year old toddler in a suburb of Seattle where we can’t go outside to play until around July. We do the Target or Home Depot “shuffle” every weekend. It sucks. It’s Groundhog Day every weekend.

  • I feel this way, and my husband and I both work outside the home. It’s hard as hell to keep two kids entertained all day, and when you don’t do it for five days in a row, you forget how! Every damn time!

  • Sounds like my life!

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