The Weekends Were Crushing Us, Until We Changed One Thing


weekend stress

When did weekends become something we survived instead of something we truly enjoyed? Well, in my case it was the arrival of our second child, when Saturdays and Sundays turned into a juggling act of, “Who will entertain/tire out the toddler so the baby can sleep?” and, “Who will do all the things you need to do to get the baby to sleep?”

Add in another kid, the emergence of social lives for our older two, the pressure to keep everyone stimulated and happy without over-reliance on screens, and basically the weekends are a grueling marathon of birthday parties and sports games, stressful restaurant outings, literal bouncing off the walls and furniture, and steadily mounting bad behavior (kids) and resentment (parents).

Clearly, we’ve been doing this weekend thing wrong for a while now. Fortunately, I discovered a trick that has helped us start to get our TGIF back.

The idea was not mine but came from the leader of a monthly discussion group I attend for moms of young kids. At a recent Thursday evening session, we began to identify a shared feeling of anxiety bordering on dread as we approached the coming weekend — the exhaustion had set in and it wasn’t even Friday yet. Our facilitator jumped in and said, “I want you to set an intention going into the weekend.”

Oh, great, I thought, an “intention.” My eyes started to glaze over as I prepared for some tiresome spiel on mindfulness.  But instead, she surprised me with this advice: Before each weekend begins, ask your partner what’s the one thing he/she wants to have happen this weekend, and then share your “one thing” as well. Maybe it’s watching your favorite team play on TV, maybe it’s going for a run or getting your nails done, maybe it’s spending one-on-one time with a child you feel could use some special attention.

The “one thing” will likely change each week. And it’s not just about the parents; if your children are old enough, they should respond to the same question. Then whenever possible, you all work together to make those things happen at some point during the weekend.

When it comes to parenting, it’s not often that a piece of advice is simultaneously simple and transformative. But this checked both boxes for our family. It gives my husband and me an important reminder to check in with one another, and the enjoyment, stress relief or relaxation (sometimes all of the above) we get from our “one thing” is enough to keep us feeling more centered as the chaos of life with little kids swirls around us. The kids feed off of that positive energy and are at least one notch less insane by Sunday evening.

Here’s the thing: if you have kids, your weekends are going to be busy and tiring. They are never going to completely match whatever dream 48-hour scenario you came in with. That hasn’t changed for us, and it likely won’t. But in looking out for one another’s happiness and reasserting some small measure of control, we are starting to do what we did before our kids came along — complain about Mondays.  


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