Getting the hang of Saturdays

Nearly the first thing I did yesterday morning was to jot down some notes for a blog entry about how I’m having trouble getting the hang of Saturdays. But the day proceeded and I never had time to write it out. In fact I got all my stuff done in time for Howard and I to escape the house and have dinner with some other local writers. It was a wonderful event full of laughter and good conversation. As a result I wrote nothing at all and left a semi-discouraged note up for a whole extra day even though the day itself turned out quite well. Oops.

Since the analysis contained in my notes about getting the hang of Saturdays is still valid and interesting to me, I am going to do a write up from the notes anyway.

The first problem with Saturday morning is that I want to sleep late. I actually need the extra sleep since I tend to run on a sleep deficit during the rest of the week. My desires to sleep hit the first snag when the iPod alarms go off with their wake-up play lists. The one in our room is not much of a problem because we have a remote. However I’ve also set one on the iPod in the kitchen. On school days the play list helps the kids time their mornings so that they’re on schedule. In theory we can turn these off, but I always forget to. I think part of my brain is afraid that if I turn them off on Saturday, I’ll forget to reset them for Monday.

The morning music is the least of the troubles. I want to sleep in, but I want the kids to wake up on their regular schedule. If the younger two sleep late, it is harder to get them to go to bed that night. I’ve worked really hard to get their bio rhythms adjusted and I don’t want to send it askew. So in theory I should just get up at the same time as I do all week so that our schedule remains intact. But I love the sleep in. In the end the kids usually wake up about an hour later than normal and then they go play video games while I sleep longer.

This pattern does not generally include breakfast except what the kids decide to feed to themselves. Usually they do a pretty good job, no one goes hungry, but without an official breakfast no one has a marker for the beginning of the day. The kids don’t have a set point for when they should do their chores. When I groggily wander down stairs half the morning is gone and the kids are all fully engaged in activities where they will object to being interrupted. Chores are easier to swallow if you don’t have to stop doing something fun in order to do them. At this point I usually decide not to interrupt happily playing children to fight over chores. Instead I wander into my office to do a “little bit of work.”

Then suddenly it is noon, I’m still in my pajamas, and kids’ friends are knocking on the door to ask if my kids can play. (Their parents got them up, fed them breakfast, and focused their mornings so their chores are all done.) I look at the kid on my front step and I have a bare moment to decide whether to just let my kids go or to enforce chores first. The easy path is so easy. It really is. But I feel a vague guilt as I look at my not-so-clean house and worry that I’m not teaching them the housekeeping habits they will need.

I look at my Saturdays and feel that I ought to plan something better, more structured. Then I turn it all upside down and look at it again. The weeks are made of structure. Every day (except Saturday) I know exactly when to get them up in the morning. I have songs to measure out when breakfast should be, when Kiki leaves, when Link leaves, when Gleek and Patch leave. Even while they’re gone I’ve planned my days and run them by task list. Then they come home at we all hit schedule marks for play, homework, dinner, and evening stuff. Saturdays are all squishy and free-form. And maybe we need that.