Fine, We’ll Just Stay Home Forever!

When I chat to my friends about their weekends, they tell me stories full of excitement and adventure. It seems that trips to the hot pools, walks through the bush, and two-day getaways to cabins with no electricity are the norm for other kiwi families. Yet any time I’m asked how our weekend was spent, I’m forced to admit that we didn’t do anything aside from mowing the lawns and breaking up squabbles. Not only is it boring, but it’s embarrassing to have to reply that way. Even if I say, Oh, it was a lovely relaxing weekend at home, I just know whoever I’m talking to will automatically assume (correctly) that I have no life. I used to be fun, dammit!

Yesterday, after a lazy Sunday morning sleep-in, I decided we needed to get out of our usual weekend funk. The husband and I agreed a family stroll around the local mountain would be a nice way to spend the afternoon. I would wear the baby in the ergo, and the three older children could walk, run and climb their way around the track. It was going to be so nice to get out of the house!

We had our plans locked in by 11:30am, but between the six of us it took two hours to get ready to leave (which may or may not have had something to do with the fact that I wanted to do my nails). And then when we arrived there was nowhere to park. And then when we did find a park I realised it was two o’clock already, which was the time I’d decided to launch my YouTube giveaway, and I wasn’t willing to not make my video live and share the links on social media at the set time. So. I spent the first 15 minutes of our family outing on my (not very) smart phone. I definitely felt like a Bad Mum for that.

By the time we made it to the base of the walking track, we’d been out of the house for an hour. A whole hour! Considering we’d taken so long just to get out the door, these 60 additional minutes made the entire excursion feel ridiculous. But, we were there. We were out. And we’d decided to take a walk, so we were going to take the walk. Never mind that the three-year-old was already melting down, crying and begging for hug after hug after hug (which I gave him, of course, because I’m not a monster, but crouching down to hug a small, snotty person when there’s already a small(er), snotty person strapped to my front is not exactly my idea of a good time). Yes, the walk was going ahead no matter what.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that the track was busy, but I was. There were people everywhere. Most of those people walked a lot faster than our family of six, so most of those people wanted to pass us. On a narrow track. With steep drops on one side. Despite my constant reminders that in New Zealand we drive on the left so we needed to walk on the left, my children spread themselves out across the path, seemingly in an effort to block anyone and everyone who wanted to move faster than a snail. Do you know how many times I had to tell the kids to move out of the way? It was one million. One million times. Probably literally. Do you ever feel like you just want to punch yourself in the throat because you’re so sick of the sound of your own voice?

We were halfway around the mountain when the wheels really fell off. The three-year-old was done. He was not willing to move an inch, and he was not going to stop crying unless his mother (ugh, that’s me) was hugging him. The second the hug ended? Tantrums. The girls had started whining by this stage too. They were too hot, too tired, too sore on one side. (That’s called the stitch, it’s normal. Try squeezing your hand on the opposite side. Oh it’s not working? Perhaps you could give it a go for more than just ten seconds…) In other words, the excursion was going perfectly. What a marvellous idea this walk had been!

It took us two hours to make it to the end of the track. We were all tired. We were all grumpy. At least 50 percent of the family were close to tears. The seven-year-old actually wailed, “But I didn’t have any fun!” when we announced we would not be going to play on the beach because it was late and we needed to get home. I felt her pain (actually, I felt the exact same way), but I found it impossible to respond empathetically.
“Well, don’t worry,” I announced in a very grown-up fashion (Yeah, that’s sarcasm). “We’ll never do this again! We’ll just stay home forever!”

We picked up burgers for dinner and headed home, the baby squealing and the eldest crying. The tantrummy one somehow managed to fall asleep in his car seat (which sounds like a good thing, but the 10 minutes of silence was not worth the two hours of intermittent crying in the night due to the small change to his regular sleep schedule). I complained to the husband as I drove. How do other families do it? Everyone else seems to manage perfectly well when they’re out and about with their children. Are we doing something wrong? Will we really have to stay inside the house forever? He’s a smart man, my husband, but he didn’t have any answers. I hate not having answers.

Dinner was eaten in relative silence. Children were bathed and dressed in clean sleepwear. Teeth were brushed. Stories were read. Four little people were tucked into bed. The weekend was over, and we were not going to miss it. And, even though it’s now Monday, the most hated day in the history of the world, I do not miss the weekend. Instead, I’m looking forward to a fresh start in a fresh week. And I know it’s going to be a good one because Miss Five will be Miss Six tomorrow! Oh, that reminds me, I’d better go and ring Cobb and Co. I need to book a table for dinner for a family of six…

How do you get on when your take your little ones out for the day? Where do you go? How do you avoid the meltdowns? And why oh why am I expecting dinner at a restaurant to go smoothly?! 

– Fern xxx

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17 Comment

  1. kazz says: Reply

    Hahaha huni. It takes practice and alot of planning. No shiz, if were taking the kids fishing something we do at least twice a month we discuss it at least the morning before, which adult is responsible for getting what ready and packed and when well jave this done by. What time well leave n return factoring in meal times n nap times.
    Camping is planned atleast 2 weeks in advance.
    I seriously have planner on my fridge marked with what weekends are good for fishing, ones with motorbike and other sport events. N then random other stuff ive been wanting to check out so all week i can semi think/plan.
    But walking tracks and my family suck the whinge n moan about there sore legs which is redick considering they can be on there bmx gor 10 straight hours!!

    1. fernp says: Reply

      Ahhh yes, so our crappy organisational skills are where we’re going wrong!
      I think you’re so amazing for making all that effort to go out and do cool stuff like that as a family. You’re such a good mum!
      Yeah, I think we’re going to have to give up on the family walk dream, and will just stick to the playgrounds and beaches (which is not fun for me, but then again, neither is trying to force the kids to walk with me, haha).
      Thanks hun xx

      1. kazz says: Reply

        Hey, so sorry if I offended you. And dont give up on the walking if its what you want.
        Fishing, camping, bmx, mountian bikes, motocross and rugby are things that me and clint love doing. So the kids have come along since they were tiny, cos we were maybe to selfish to not do them. And now they get more excited than we do half the time.
        But over the years we have picked up bits that work for us to make it easier. And given my husband’s extreme need to be on time and a t1 diabetic extreme planning seems to be my answer. It doesn’t have to be yours.
        My very blurred point was, its not easy mkre times than not its actually alot of work, but stick at it and in time youll develop a routine that works for you and your fam dam. And if its something that you really enjoy doing then itl be worth it.

        1. fernp says: Reply

          Oh no no no, I was not offended AT ALL. I was bowing down to your amazing organisational skills!
          Please don’t ever feel like you have to justify yourself to me, or explain how/why you do what you do.
          You guys are doing such an awesome job and should definitely be proud of that.
          When it comes to family outings we DO have crappy organisational skills, and I have no problems being reminded of that. I definitely didn’t feel like you were implying that either, I just know that that’s where our problems lie 😉 xx

  2. Jenifer says: Reply

    I know how you feel .It does get easier as the kids get older it does get easier. In saying that right now at 7am on Tuesday morning I have Mr 7 sent to his bed for swearing at Mr 9 crying and having a mental breakdown because Mr 9 touched his Lego and Mr 9 crying over me telling him to not touch Mr 7s Lego because we all no how upset Mr 7 gets over his Lego and miss 4 complaining that Mr 7 stood on her toes on his way to bed. Meanwhile miss 9 is being very well behaved and getting ready for school. Give it 10 minutes and it will all have calmed down . I think sometimes we expect to much from our kids . We want so badly to have that fun family outing that even when we know it’s a bad idea we still push it . Next time try going for a walk first thing in the morning after breakfast when the kids are all fresh for the day and pick the beach where you know the kids will get wet but you are prepared for it and you tell yourself your not going to stress out and the kids can run wherever they want without having to worry about falling off a cliff or people getting in their way 🙂 Make sure you leave when you see the first child getting over it but warn everyone 10 and 5 minutes before you leave to try avoid a meltdown. Even after all that prep it can turn to crap and that’s okay because you tried and that’s all you can do 🙂 I have been where you are and it does get better as the kids get older 🙂 Oh look before I have finished writing this Mr 7 and Mr 9 have made friends again and miss 4 is happily eating her breakfast 🙂

    1. fernp says: Reply

      These are such great suggestions! I actually thought to myself that going late in the afternoon was a silly time, but we are so useless at getting organised in the morning when it’s the weekend. I think next time we’ll definitely plan it the night before so we can be up and out at a reasonable time.
      Thanks so much for sharing the realities of your life too, makes me feel so much better about everything! It’s very easy to forget that other parents struggle too.

  3. alex says: Reply

    I read your posts regularly. I’m one of those people who always wanted to be a stay at home mum with a million kids. But for some reason, I’m 26, have way to many useless degrees, kidless, and working on my career. I sometimes toy with the idea of throwing it all in, and then I read one of your posts and have a rethink and decide yup I can wait another year!! I’ve gone and done the acceptable thing, and brought a house, and just applied for a higher paying job to pay that over priced mortgage. LOL FML!

    A huge worry of mine too is stopping work for awhile, and struggling to get back into work force again. I don’t love I am not exactly wanting to rush back,but its a very real reality for most.

    We actually thought I might be pregnant a few weeks ago, but Aunt flo came to visit a few days after, I was stoked, my partner however was pissed!

    In the next 2 years I plan to ditch work and breed like the wind. But when will I ever stop worrying, it probably gets worse with kids!

  4. Jen Morris says: Reply

    It gets easier!! We never went out and did much when the kids were little, it was way too much hassle. As for going away on holiday? You don’t go on vacation, you go on location – same crap, different setting, and even worse because invariably it’s not child-proof and they are out of their usual schedule. Just wasn’t worth it.

    When they get older it’s SO fun! Of course there are still some “rules” to make things easier, number one being either leave directly after a meal, pack snacks and plan to be back before the next meal, or factor a picnic in. Nobody has much fun if anyone is hangry and that fresh outdoor air seems to spark up appetites.

    Hang in there, these are the tough years! The fun bit is ahead.

  5. flying solo says: Reply

    It gets better… when they are teens all they want to do is stay indoors and do boring stuff and its socially acceptable and so you can go out and enjoy a cocktail and just leave them home alone! ha ha

    1. fernp says: Reply

      Now I like the sound of that!!

  6. Debbie says: Reply

    Hi Fern, it can still take us two hours to get out of the house and my two are sixteen and nineteen! I could never understand how people got out the house before midday (and I’m an early riser!).

    I do feel your pain though, and if relaxing days at home are for you then why not enjoy them? I’m sure that when your brood are older you’ll be able to get out and have plenty of family fun, without the tears!


    1. fernp says: Reply

      Oh thank you, Debbie! Sometimes I do just need to be reminded that there’s nothing wrong with not being an adventurous family.
      One day we’ll get there… Maybe!

  7. Kiri says: Reply

    Sometimes the idea of a nice family day out is better than the reality! Of course we have some really nice trips out, but most involve some frustration, tantrums, whining, and stress at some point. And that’s just from me! I find the earlier we can get out of the house the better, it gives us more time and we don’t have to rush back because the kids are getting tired. But it does mean more rushing around getting ready in the morning.

    1. fernp says: Reply

      Yes, so true!
      We definitely need to make sure we head out in the mornings, such good advice. It does get tricky with the baby wanting a nap around 10am, but we can work around that I reckon.

  8. Nikki Frank-Hamilton says: Reply

    This is the best! LOL You tried. I’ll give you huge bonus points for that! My kids are older now, but they still tease me about the time we decided to do something together, and they fought and argued and cried. I said, in a very loud, sarcastic voice, “WE ARE HAVING FUN!!!!” Obviously we weren’t, but we put the effort in to doing something together, they better have a good time! I feel your pain! And I have no suggestions to give other than grit your teeth and smile, it’s all over before you know it!

    1. fernp says: Reply

      Haha, your comment made me laugh! Thank you for that. Kid wrangling is SUCH a trial, and as much as I love them being small and cuddly, I really am looking forward to them all being old enough to handle life!
      Must remember to yell We are having fun! the next time it all turns to custard 😉

  9. The Pramshed says: Reply

    Having watched your vlog last week, I can hear you reading this blog post. It made me chuckle a little (sorry) I love how you went to your local mountain – I wish I could say that about London. But…a huge well done for getting out of the house, and taking the family for a walk around a mountain – that will certainly give you something to discuss next time someone asks what you did at the weekend. I’ve only got one child at the moment, she’s 10 months old, it used to take us forever to leave the house. I’ve now got it down to precision timing, but I’m sure that once she starts walking and is able to have tantrums it’ll be a whole different story. Thanks so much for linking up again this week at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

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