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White Knuckle Parenting: What Happened to TGIF?

Remember when weekends were for sleeping late and partying? Then remember how your kids put an abrupt stop to that?

Remember back in the day when you were young and didn't have kids and Friday afternoon was the best time of the week? The weekend stretched out ahead of you, 48 hours of possibility and awesomeness.

Then you had kids.

Friday afternoon quickly becomes something entirely different after you have children. Those 48 hours change from "What wonderful thing can I do this weekend?" to "How on earth am I going to fill 48 hours straight with my kids?" Dreary winter weather only makes this harder.

You have options, of course. You can just let them do their own thing and see what happens. Left to their own devices over a period of several hours last weekend, I found my husband and oldest son watching Transformers cartoons together on different devices in every room I walked into. It was weird. Turns out they had to keep shifting devices to accommodate my other two kids. This low-interaction tactic, however, only works for a certain amount of time. You'll know when it stops working because of the fist fight that will break out.

Ultimately, the best way to prevent weekend sibling on sibling violence is to get everyone out of the house. Gymnastics open play, libraries, haircuts, maybe a quick stop at the emergency room for a surface injury—all are good ways to kill time on cold weekends.

Movies are also a good option, but there are no fun kids' movies out right now. We took our kids to see The Hobbit, which was great but for two things: (1) we'd forgotten to tell them that the movie didn't cover the whole book, resulting in sad little hobbitses when it ended abruptly, and (2) the realization that adult movies have adult previews—did every terrifying preview have to feature the undead?

Errands and chores used to be a staple of my pre-kids weekends, but at this point, I will do almost anything to avoid doing errands with kids in tow. The thought of dragging my kids with me to a department store to return something? That sounds like hell on earth. My husband and I used to take our kids to the grocery store on the weekend. Imagine all five of us ping ponging around the store and shouting. I'm not sure why we thought grocery shopping as a family was a good idea, but I would go to the grocery store at midnight on a Tuesday to avoid that these days.

Then there is the occasional weekend on which every event ever planned is scheduled. Those weekends are less about keeping your kids entertained and more about how you can get one kid to a birthday party at the same that you're supposed to be across town at a different kid's hockey practice. I'm not sure which type of weekend is harder.

All my great ideas about weekends may illustrate to you why I am so looking forward to warm weather when it is easy to just shove the kids outside or fill afternoons with swimming and bike riding. For now, I'll just enjoy the fact that even if they're grumbling about errands or fighting over who gets to play the Wii U, at least they still like to hang out near me. Because soon enough, I'm sure my kids will stop wanting to have anything to do with me and I'll have my weekends back. Somehow I think I'll miss these days.

Nonetheless, until then, I will admit to sometimes looking at the clock on a Sunday evening and thinking, "TGIM—thank goodness its Monday!"

Jean, a.k.a. Stimey, is a freelance writer who writes a personal blog at Stimeyland and runs an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Stimeyland.

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