There was a time in my not-so-distant past our weekends looked like this: Friday night dinner at our favorite restaurant. Appetizers, wine, leisurely catch up about the week over a huge plate of pasta. Falling into bed around midnight, sleeping in. Coffee, workout. Leisurely Saturday and Sunday doing adult things not limited to reading in the family room, having coffee at cafes, girls’ time to get a mani, a movie, perhaps Sunday brunch, maybe even a nap.

I’d wake up Monday morning feeling refreshed and sad the weekend was over. I’d feel connected to my husband and ready to take on the inevitable separation that happens during the week when he works long hours, and we see each other only briefly in the morning and evenings.

Now, weekends have a different dynamic.

It’s something along the lines of Friday playdate, soccer practice, carpool, pizza, friends. Saturday soccer games, baseball game, quick-packed lunch, double birthday parties. The parent who is not driving carpool watches the napping baby which means cleaning, laundry, scrambling for sports equipment, unpacking sports equipment, washing water bottles, jerseys, windbreakers, cleaning cleats, etc.  Sunday is more of the same but throw in church, Sunday school, choir practice, an attempt to watch some football and make a family dinner, and probably two more birthday parties.

By the time Sunday night approaches, I find I’m usually excited for the week to start so I can find my zen again with a quiet household, a chance to clean everything, and a little less frantic pace.

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What is the cost of these busy weekends? Is there anything we can do about it or is this how it’s going to be until the kids graduate high school and leave the nest?

As I reflect on the stark contrast between the weekends of today and the past, I realize I’m missing something huge. Instead of seeing today for what it really ismy life nowI was comparing it to something that in reality was just a small blip on the radar of my life. A former existence that wasn’t meant to last forever.

I grew up in a busy household.

Much like what my kids are experiencing todaya packed schedule of sports, activities, friends, and family. We sailed through our weekends in a whirlwind of activity that my mom’s day planner coordinated to the minute.

And then in my 20s after the sports and activities ended when I lived with friends, weekends were only a reprieve from my full-time job, and I enjoyed the “me time.” What I didn’t realize at the time was the time after you leave home and before you have a family of your own is special. The small window is a time for growing as a person, for enjoying your spouse, yourself, and your freedom now that you’re an independent adult.

Somewhere along the way, we trade in the carefree lifestyle. The only thing I didn’t recognize while we were in them was the weekends of the past were temporary.

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There’s something to be said for over scheduling. And when we have a particularly crazy weekend, I remind myself it’s OK to say no to some things. It’s OK to miss a game or let someone else take the carpool. It’s OK to hire a babysitter or have grandma watch the kids so you can come up for air. And it’s OK to say no to the birthday parties and playdates.

But I also remind myself all this activity means one thing: we are blessed.

We’re blessed with healthy children. We’re blessed with friends. Family. Things to do and the ability to do them. A home to care for.

And on Mondays, when my house is finally clean and quiet has settled, I have time to reflect.

This is a busy season in life. Maybe it’s the busiest season. And one day when the kids are gone and the house is permanently clean, I wonder if I’ll say how quickly it all went, that this life of busy weekends was the temporary existence.

Caroline Murray

Caroline is a freelance writer, mama to two young children and one sweet baby.  She loves everything country and tries not to take anything too seriously.  You can see more of her at www.the-othermom.com.