Weekend + Parents x Children = Chaos

Phase 1 – Anticipation:

It’s nearly the weekend. The Working Parent will be excited about the prospect of a couple of days off from the morning rush, no forcing breakfast down the throats of small children, no fear of the untimely poo, or revelation of an impromptu fancy dress day at school/childcare setting. Stay At Home Parents will perhaps have another parent at home. Someone to support and assist with the tasks you’ve been doing all week? Or more realistically someone to upset the routine, bicker with and enjoy the occasional ‘eye-roll’ with when one of the children does something ridiculous.

This weekend will be lovely. It will be relaxing, we will all have chance to enjoy some quality time. Weekends are what families are made for, making memories, moulding futures and building dreams.

Phase 2 – Optimism:

A plan; all we need is a plan. To enjoy this weekend we need to do something. Sitting down together and deciding what we all want from our time together is what we do best in this house.

Mum: So what shall we do today?

Son: Cinema

Daughter 1: Swimming

Daughter 2: Mine

[Argument ensues]

Dad: ALRIGHT THAT’S ENOUGH! Ok, the options are: swimming, soft play, or beach.

Mum: Do I need to do a picnic? I don’t know if I have enough to do a picnic…

Son: At the beach – can we have an ice cream?

Dad: Yes.

Daughter 1: I don’t want to go to the beach.

Daughter 2: I want beach.

Mum: Answer needed about the picnic. I need to know if I have to pop to LIDL.

Daughter 2: NO LIDL!!! [falls on floor and begins catastrophic tantrum]

Dad: If we can’t decide nicely we will just stay here…

Mum: For a house picnic? I can muster a house picnic with oven food.

[Son and Daughter 1 join Daughter 2 in tantrum at the prospect of staying at home.]

Dad: I’ll be in the car, come and find me when you’ve decided.

The ‘making memories’ part begins…

Phase 3 – Drama:

The day is sunny, the children are playing in a shallow graduated paddling pool 10 feet away. They are splashing about in water as deep as the youngest child’s knees, not venturing further. Mum is paddling too; Dad stood checking the football scores on his phone, in full length jeans and trainers.

Without warning, Daughter 2 joins mum at the shoreline and says what sounds remarkably like ‘Watch me Mama, I’m about to age you about 15 years in 3 seconds’ and launches into the paddling pool at full speed, until she inevitably trips and ends up face down and unable to get up in the 30cm of water. In slow motion, Mum remembers every warning advert that tells you that a child can drown in a teaspoon of water and springs into action to rescue the youngest. She recalls in that millisecond, the conversation at the beach the week previously, where she had designated herself ‘Drowning Prevention Squad’ whilst Husband was tasked with the job of Raising the Alarm in this (heaven forbid) unlikely eventuality. She imagined him racing for the lifebelt as she travelled outside of herself to watch, slightly ungracefully, with more splash than her self-esteem would like, as she heroically throws herself face-down in the paddling pool.

At this point, Daughter 2 finds her footing and is less alarmed, more amused to see Mummy clutching onto her now, sure-footed little body, fully dressed, soaked to her underwear and quietly sobbing. Still crying, Mum turns to the gathering crowd in order to stand down the Raising the Alarm part of the squad. Here’s where we see Dad looking up from his phone wearing an expression of puzzlement and then wry amusement ‘I was just getting ready to call the coastguard!’


Phase 4 – Resentment:

Sat, shivering in soaking wet clothes, while passers-by whisper behind their hands. You think that they are discussing the fact that you’re the mum who almost let her child drown, but it’s more likely it’s the fact that you’re wearing a now-see-through pale yellow t shirt and this is a family country park.

Why is this so hard? Everyone else seems to manage a drama-free day out, no one else reports that their children lose their mind to rage every time they get in their car seat. No one else tells me about their husband’s teaching the children naughty songs and rhymes, just enough so that they can remember them at a later date (never with the offending parent, always with the innocent party).

I remember lying in at a weekend. I remember Hollyoaks, a brunch on Sunday and a lazy look through the papers.

Now, it’s up at 5:45 (6 on a good day) and a slow build of questions, demands, mess and questionable sticky patches on your clothes from little hands using you as a human baby wipe. Secretly, we would like to work for the UN thanks to the experience gained in International Diplomacy (we’ve taken them to France twice; hence ‘International’).

What, no seriously, what am I doing wrong?

Phase 5 – Acceptance:

Dad returns with an ice cream for each child and a hot coffee for Mum and a compliment about how slim she looks in her now skin tight apparel. With a warm towel from the car, Dad relives the incident with a badly done impression full of northern ‘noises’ to denote Mum’s part of the drama and little one makes fake upset noises to remind Mum of the peril she almost faced. Amongst the laughter and the mocking, Mum sits with Daughter 2 firmly on her sopping lap, holding her tighter than before, silently thanking, hoping and remembering how lucky she is.

This weekend will be lovely. It will be relaxing, we will all have chance to enjoy some quality time. Weekends are what families are made for, making memories, moulding futures and building dreams.

Memories, oh yes. I’ll be sweating over those for a good while to come. Moulding futures? She will learn to swim, as soon as is physically possible. They will ALL learn to swim. Building dreams… I don’t know about that one. Son, currently wants to be a football player, Daughter 1 wants to marry her brother and Daughter 2 wants to walk. Be carried. Walk. Be carried.

There’s no doubt about it; this parenting gig is tough, there is no break at the weekend, there is rarely off-duty time and there is always something to scare the living daylights out of you when you least expect it.

But ultimately, when all is said and done; we’re in this together. We’re annoying, noisy, argumentative and often downright hard work and none of us would change a thing.

Except the almost drowning part; I would quite happily have bypassed that bit.



  1. So, this reminds me of the time that we went to the Oregon Coast to wade through the tide pools. We had only two kiddos at the time and we were still in the delusional state of wanting to videotape our children’s escapades. We kept telling #2 that he was getting too close to the tide pools edge and that he was going to fall in if he wasn’t careful (I think he was maybe 3!) Sue enough he slipped in (the water along our Coast is FREEZING even in late Summer) and we managed to capture on video the two of us scolding him for falling into the water before either one of us actually moved to help him. Not my proudest parenting moment – but one that we can watch and replay ad nauseam. Ah, memories!


  2. Always watching when any children on a shoreline after doing my life saving certificate at school. Good reaction from you whatever the fashion consequences afterwards!


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