The Longest Long Weekend Ever

We’ve discovered that the key to successful and enjoyable weekends with the girls is striking the right balance between under-programming and over-programming. Too much activity, and you get cranky, overtired kids and exhausted parents. Too little activity, and the hours drag by. And, well, you still get cranky, overtired kids and exhausted parents.

Unfortunately, we way underplanned this weekend, and found ourselves scrambling at the last minute for things to do. Which is tricky on a holiday weekend when a lot of people are out of town and/or have already, wisely, made their plans. We had some verrry painful stretches of hanging-out-at-home time, made more painful by the fact that the girls were not at their peaceful-independent-play best, and I was on the cranky side, too.

Still, we did have some plans. On Saturday, we spent the afternoon at the Marblehead Arts Festival. As per our usual custom, we made it to the kid-friendly portion of events fifteen minutes before they ended. (Why are kids’ events so often held in the noon-to-two-p.m. zone? Don’t people know that this is when kids need naps and/or downtime? We still keep “quiet time” after lunch sacred.)

Anyhoo, one of the kids’ activities was a mask-decorating. The table for this was covered in glitter, and soon both Clio and Elsa were covered in glitter, too. (Sunblock + glitter = sparkly terribleness.)

After glittery masks were made and we’d moved on to macaroni necklaces, of the event organizers gave the girls balloons. Clio refused to let me tie hers onto her wrist, I thought — stupidly — “fine, this will be a teachable moment when she loses her balloon” and when the balloon, inevitably, flew out of her grip four seconds later, she FLIPPED OUT. She was screaming and crying that she wanted to go home, and to make matters worse, there was glitter all over her face, edging into her eyes, which she kept rubbing with her (glitter covered) hands.

Alastair and I took turns trying calm her down and simultaneously wipe off the glitter with napkins and water. We found her another balloon, but somebody (hint: not me) didn’t tie it onto her wrist tightly enough, and that flew away, too. Fortunately, at that point Clio decided she’d had it with balloons. She didn’t want another one — it was just too painful.

We were all testy and tense and annoyed with one another. Oh, it was a miserable half hour.

Ice cream was in order. We got it, and then took a walk down along the water. It was a drop-dead gorgeous day. Sailboats on the water. Hermit crabs in the tidal pools. We paused in the park for some pictures, including the one above: I struck some silly poses for the camera, and Clio decided to do the same. You’d never know she’d been throwing a two-year-old grade tantrum an hour earlier.

Here she and Elsa are, looking equally happy and adorable (Alastair, too):


I long ago accepted the fact that, with small children, a weekend doesn’t feel like the “break” it used to. In fact, from my perspective, it’s more tiring and more stressful than the weekdays, when I am working. (Alastair, who spends more time with them on his own during the week, would beg to differ, I suspect.)

But at least there are moments — ice cream, blue skies, silly pictures in the park — that feel like pure weekend pleasure. And, of course, there are the times after the kids are in bed, and we can kick back and unwind. (Season 3 of True Blood on DVD has been our drug of choice this past week.)

What’s your strategy for a good — or at least bearable — weekend? (And hope you and yours had a happy 4th.)

PS — There’s another chance to win a free copy of EDEN LAKE over at The Debutante Ball

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