Having my wife’s family a day’s drive away offers an unusual opportunity for me… time home alone.
My sending them off on their own doesn’t necessarily come by choice. People only have so much vacation time. While I’d rather go with them, it’s just not always possible. So at least once a year there is a trip to Illinois that does not include me.
With that level of frequency over the past 10 years, I can tell you that my views on how to spend that time have changed greatly.
When we were somewhat freshly married up until we had one child, these “vacations” were used reliving my youth. I’d call the buddies and proceed to make plans for a bar crawl that would make Lindsay Lohan blush and that would end with my crashing on a buddy’s couch playing after-hours XBox until dawn. But time marches on. We get older, have more kids, and lose our ability to recover from a hangover in less than 48 hours.
So now my time is spent doing those things that are hard to accomplish with four little helpers (and that my wife would like to see get done before she returns). Well-laid plans and reality seldom match up, though.
Here is last weekend’s schedule to help me illustrate.
Plan: Off work at noon, buy materials to replace back door, prep door area, have dinner, go to bed.
Actual: Accomplished list early, having forgotten that projects take much less time without all the helpers. Spent remainder of the evening shuffling around like a lost dog turning on radios in every room to drown out the deafening silence.
Plan: Clean house, work momaha.com booth at Junkstock, meet friend for a drink, finish out the day writing this week’s blog.
Actual: Shuffled around house like a lost dog, worked Junkstock, met friend, fell asleep on couch. On a side note, I could tell it was a successful Junkstock because the guy doing face painting went eight hours without a bathroom break. Also, I can’t be 100 percent sure, but I think I saw a vendor trying to sell a piece of the barn.
Plan: Install door, do laundry, get ready for week.
Actual: Installed door, took 3 hour nap, shuffled around house looking for toys to pick up.
All in all, even though this time is a gift of sorts, I’d rather have the family here. Some things may take less time by myself and that Sunday nap sure felt great, but I’d never trade it for time together with my wife and crazy kids.
Chris Donnelly is a working dad with four children.
You can read him every Thursday on momaha.com
* * *