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.

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Lezlee says:

My hubs and I both work full time outside the house, and I feel the same way too. I love having the time on the weekends with the kids (two boys, 2.5 years old), but I feel the stress of having to have a plan, because if we don’t, eventually every toy in the house is thrown, the dining room is knee-deep in food detritus and crafty bits, and everybody in the house is yelled at at least twice by everyone else.

siouxzee2343 says:

My husband works 4 nights a week and all day Saturday from 11-10pm. Saturdays are the most dreaded dayof the week. No family locally or friends with kids the appropriate age. Only one boy, 10, who is an awesome kid, but by 3pm I feel like I’m going to pass out from boredom. Summer is better because he can be outside with his friends on the street, but if they’re not home or have playdates, we are SOL, and yes, I spend $$$$ trying to entertain us both. In summer it’s either camp (I work PT) or long, endless days of boredom……..last summer in 3 days I think I spent $140 preventing myself from murdering him or his brain turning to mush from too much screen time. I’m ashamed to admit, the the 10th game of Monopoly slides by once I have some vodka in my belly……sadly I feel I’m way more fun when slightly buzzed……

Jason, I used to feel this way too on Fridays….Believe me! But as the kids get older, weekends HAVE (GASP!) become actually something I look forward to…..My girls are 5 and 12 and kids actually do begin to (GASP AGAIN) SLEEP IN (yes, I know that has not been in your vocab for so long you are unable to recognize those words…they mean YOU SLEEP UNTIL YOU WANT TO)….Outings are more managable..kids don´t fall asleep in the car…(OMG; when you said that about them falling aslep and then up til all hours…this was a reason we never wernt ANYWHERE in the car after a certain time for a LONG time!!)….Anyway, your post is so BTDT for me….so true…Good one!

OF COURSE you know the weekend after I wrote that, my 5 yr old proceeded to wake up at the CRACK OF DAWN both on Sat. and Sunday….its the parental cosmic jinx!! Damn!

Virginia Dare says:

I guess the grass is always greener…I’m almost in tears thinking about how much I wish I had this problem and didn’t have to go away 10 hours a day and had more than 90 minutes with my kid before she has to go to sleep.
By the way, please post a link to the napping club if you find out more. That sounds awesome.

Lucy says:

Virginia you can start your own branch of the napping consortium. I suggest not being on a subway or in a library when you embark on your first venture. My husband is always sad that he only has 90 minutes with me after work before I fall asleep. Oh well…

I’m always thrilled to pieces when Monday mornings roll around. Not that I don’t love my kids, but damn.

Claire says:

Just wait till they get to the age where they are playing sports! Between the four of us we had two soccer games, two baseball games, summer travel tryouts and kickboxing this weekend! No down time at all.

jasonmgood says:

Claire, Silas had Tball on Saturday. So…it’s beginning :)

Angele says:

Normally I totally get your posts but I don’t really get this one. Maybe I’m just not remembering real life when my kids were that age as they are older now but I do remember always having too many choices of things to do with the kids on weekends. What made it easier was not having television though when they were small so they had to figure out ways to amuse themselves as well. A box made into a million different things, picnics, walks at the park, swimming at the pool etc. I live in Canada too and so totally get the housebound thing but you do have to be looking for things. I used to read the events section in the paper or sign up for emails from the library and rec centres. Have heart if you put in half an hour a week I’m sure this will improve and I hope this post isn’t seen as a criticism as it’s not meant that way.

mamab says:

We were very fond of the kid play space at the local mall…the free one in the corridor by burger king, where we would have lunch before going to target. Now the child is 10 and mostly entertains herself or gets herself invite to a play date at someone else’s house….I long ago gave up reciprocating because other people’s kids are loud and annoying.

Norine @ Science of Parenthood says:

Oh man! I dread Fridays too — especially when my husband is out of town on business because that means I must entertain my son … alone! When he’s home, he does something fun, like take the kid to the pool hall and video arcade so I can write. But when it’s just me, I never remember to make plans and by the time I realize that, all the school friends are otherwise engaged. What makes it worse is that we live where most people come to play — Orlando. But at this point, I am so sick of Disney World, I’d rather go to Target. Sigh … is that offer for ‘ludes still good?

Missy Romeis says:

Can I get the address for that warehouse? I totally have some wood I need to chop, angrily.

Green Light says:

the answer, obviously, is to move to Brooklyn.

Susan says:

Agree! As a stay-at-home mom, I looked forward to Saturdays for a long time because my husband was home to “help.” Now, I’ve come to realize that what I was really hoping for was “time with my husband.” Since that never occurs with two small children, weekends are just set-ups for disappointment.

AppleSeed says:

Boo hoo.. Stop whining

LK says:

O’Douls?

jasonmgood says:

Yup. I don’t drink. Used to. Fun times.

Amy says:

Totally our life. GD Target — might as well go to a $140 museum because you’ll spend that in the dollar spot before you even enter the bowels of the store. As far as I’m concerned, Target is a $100 cover charge. For BSI (bulls*it items) I will throw away in a blind rage of “We have too much crap in this house.” Yet we repeat. Every weekend. Glad to know we’re not alone.

Lyn says:

I was having this conversation with my daughter in Target…spot on! Can’t leave there for less than $100. God I love that store.

maschachaussette says:

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.

SusanC says:

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.

Laura Frey says:

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!

tgreyes0529 says:

Sounds like my life!