Do full time working parents ever feel guilty about failing to do anything exciting as a family during your few precious days off together?
A rather strange and unsettling sensation of guilt has increased within my wife and I. This weekend was the worst it has been. We didn’t do anything – we didn’t go out, go for walks, or anything – we didn’t even manage to start the endless list of household jobs. We were both simply too exhausted to do anything with ourselves or our daughter. Our weekend consisted of spending it dressed in our pyjamas, chucking our daughter in front of cartoons whilst we recouped our dwindling energy levels, in preparation for another week of work.
We were exhausted.
Nothing new or out of the ordinary, I agree. But what happens when exhaustion begins to niggle away at your family life and starts to dictate? Exhaustion breeds low mood, which breeds a tendency to opt for “pyjama” days a little more often than necessary. Thus the family missing out on opportunities to explore the big wide world and experiencing new sights and smells together.
You would think having a weekend off together would spring you both in to life – to run around soft play arenas, to piggyback your daughter along the seafront, to introduce her to American-style donuts — far from it. We were f****d.
We both work full time — my wife is Monday to Friday office hours – and I work shifts – and due to these shifts, having a weekend off together as a family comes around every other weekend. (Four days together per month, or 48 days per year from a possible 365, excluding annual leave).
These should be grappled with both hands, but we are ever increasingly, not.
Granted, you can’t expect to go on a far-flung adventure every single time you all have a day off together, but we are gradually finding we are simply too exhausted to do anything worthwhile in the slightest. My wife wanted to take our daughter swimming Saturday afternoon – but she fell asleep with our daughter on the sofa — who was watching her 452nd episode of Peppa Pig. I was sitting on the floor on 3% energy levels starring in to the abyss of Daddy Pig’s belly, in need of my own fuel.
I accept that these “pyjama days” can be fun-filled. They can be times of closeness where you are not constantly placing your daughter in and out of her car seat. No plans can be a good thing. This is something we both may be need to realise. But it is hard when you see your precious few days off together each month are dwindled or perceived as “wasted” when you are just too mentally and physically exhausted to do anything stimulating as a family, (even inside the house).
During our work hours, we are extremely lucky to have the loving childcare arrangements of both sets of grandparents, but our guilt is heightened when we arrive to pick our daughter up after work and they joyfully tell us about the latest adventures they have been on with our daughter whilst in their care. The trips to cute garden centre teashops, the gorgeous National Trust walks, wild soft play visits, social call to their cousins – -the list goes on. Although we are happy our daughter is experiencing a vast array of new sights and learning new skills – it is more often than not without mummy and daddy. Our list of adventures as a family has begun to dwindle somewhat.
Exhaustion is a real problem in ours and probably millions of other families around the world.
Time management, being kind to ourselves and being realistic with our expectations is probably key. But it is tough.
What is your take on it?