Now that we are officially one of those 'broken' families, my kids spend the occasional weekend away with Daddy, which overall means they are away from home more often than they were pre-divorce.
This week five year-old had been asking if we could 'just stay at home' for a change, so I said that was fine and she seemed rather excited in a five year-oldish kind of way. I am not inferring that she doesn't like to spend time away with my ex, but I suppose now that she goes to school five days a week, it sometimes seems to her that she has hardly been at home at all.
I sometimes feel guilty as I do look forward to my 'time off' for a whole host of reasons, even though I now spend less time with my children than I ever did before. As a married mum I only ever worked two days a week, now I work three, and their stays away from me were few and far between rather than monthly or fortnightly as they are now. My guilt also extends to the fact that I still feel somewhat overwhelmed when we are alone together just the three of us for a couple of days.
This weekend was different though. I tried to approach the whole idea of staying home in a more positive light. Not quite out loud, I said to myself: "Try not to think of the things you clearly won't get done, they are mostly boring tasks anyway (laundry, washing up, tidying, going to the loo as a few examples), instead embrace the joy of being five and two."
On Saturday I decided this would include some decorating. Not inside my house obviously. That would clearly be insane. No, we trawled through my external cupboard and found a dozen or so of those little test pots of emulsion you buy when in the midst of long-drawn out arguments over which particular shade of pale green you want to paint the kitchen. We had a go at painting the kids' playhouse, although for the two year old this mostly involved handing me pot after pot asking me to open the next one fifteen seconds after the previous. Five year old was very much into the spirit of the idea though, adding shapes and stripes to the house that has been mostly ignored at the bottom of our garden for two years, possibly because it does tend to be used as a handy alternative to a shed at times. She even asked later if we could paint some more of the house another time, so I felt it must have been a positive experience.
Overall I reckoned we had a good day, despite the tears at bedtime when the same little girl who had been asking for a weekend at home suddenly blurted out: "Oh, but we didn't go anywhere today mummy." Oh how contrary to be five.
Now all I need to do is work out how to get the paint out of my hair before I go back to work on Wednesday.