Does Exhaustion Hamper Your Family Day Adventures?

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Do full time working parents ever feel guilty about failing to do anything exciting as a family during your few precious days off together?

A rather strange and unsettling sensation of guilt has increased within my wife and I. This weekend was the worst it has been. We didn’t do anything – we didn’t go out, go for walks, or anything – we didn’t even manage to start the endless list of household jobs. We were both simply too exhausted to do anything with ourselves or our daughter. Our weekend consisted of spending it dressed in our pyjamas, chucking our daughter in front of cartoons whilst we recouped our dwindling energy levels, in preparation for another week of work.

We were exhausted.

Nothing new or out of the ordinary, I agree. But what happens when exhaustion begins to niggle away at your family life and starts to dictate? Exhaustion breeds low mood, which breeds a tendency to opt for “pyjama” days a little more often than necessary. Thus the family missing out on opportunities to explore the big wide world and experiencing new sights and smells together.

You would think having a weekend off together would spring you both in to life – to run around soft play arenas, to piggyback your daughter along the seafront, to introduce her to American-style donuts — far from it. We were f****d.

We both work full time — my wife is Monday to Friday office hours – and I work shifts – and due to these shifts, having a weekend off together as a family comes around every other weekend. (Four days together per month, or 48 days per year from a possible 365, excluding annual leave).

These should be grappled with both hands, but we are ever increasingly, not.

Granted, you can’t expect to go on a far-flung adventure every single time you all have a day off together, but we are gradually finding we are simply too exhausted to do anything worthwhile in the slightest. My wife wanted to take our daughter swimming Saturday afternoon – but she fell asleep with our daughter on the sofa — who was watching her 452nd episode of Peppa Pig. I was sitting on the floor on 3% energy levels starring in to the abyss of Daddy Pig’s belly, in need of my own fuel.

I accept that these “pyjama days” can be fun-filled. They can be times of closeness where you are not constantly placing your daughter in and out of her car seat. No plans can be a good thing. This is something we both may be need to realise. But it is hard when you see your precious few days off together each month are dwindled or perceived as “wasted” when you are just too mentally and physically exhausted to do anything stimulating as a family, (even inside the house).

During our work hours, we are extremely lucky to have the loving childcare arrangements of both sets of grandparents, but our guilt is heightened when we arrive to pick our daughter up after work and they joyfully tell us about the latest adventures they have been on with our daughter whilst in their care. The trips to cute garden centre teashops, the gorgeous National Trust walks, wild soft play visits, social call to their cousins – -the list goes on. Although we are happy our daughter is experiencing a vast array of new sights and learning new skills – it is more often than not without mummy and daddy. Our list of adventures as a family has begun to dwindle somewhat.

Exhaustion is a real problem in ours and probably millions of other families around the world.

Time management, being kind to ourselves and being realistic with our expectations is probably key. But it is tough.

What is your take on it?


Photo Credit: la_farfalla_22 via CC BY


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  1. Oliver

    I have two kids (4 and 2) and luckily don’t do shifts and my wife doesn’t work full time…but feel your guilt nonetheless! I am always so exhausted on weekends and feel ‘like we haven’t done anything’ if we stay in the house. I suspect the truth is that we have done something, we have bonded, sat, eaten together, giggled together and even, on occasion, played some horrific plastic game from the ever growing collection.

    So, conclude, don’t feel guilty about ‘doing nothing’ as you are probably doing more than you think! I need to learn this too!

  2. Jose

    Doing nothing is a way of stopping the rush we live in this world. I recently saw a video in which the stress in children was attributed to our busy lifestyles. Children need to rest. Us dads need to do the same. Yes I wish I could be more active but as a depressive father I need to be very careful with my energy. My kids need me in the long run. So resting is good. Short walks to the park are good. One outing per day is good. Staying upstairs, then going downstairs with the children is good.

  3. AL

    I work long hours so sometimes I hardly see my little girl in the week as she’s in bed before I’m back. I too am then shattered at weekends and the thought of swimming and other such activities is draining particularly as there is no lie-in to recuperate. My girl is only 1.5 so I’m still new to parenting but I think the thing she wants most is time with me and her Mom, so even when it’s not exciting we’re there and that is still important.

  4. Andy Robinson

    All very valid comments. I have slowly come round to the idea that doing nothing is OK. Just sitting on the floor tickling my daughter and giving her piggybacks is as good as going on a big adventure to Peppa Pig World!

  5. Andy Edwards

    Lazy days are great, whether it’s watching a film or playing ‘silly game’s with your kids they can be the best days. I alway try to keep a mental note of how much time we dump our kids 3.5, 1.75 in front of the TV. If I feel like it’s getting too often and it’s because I don’t have the energy I look at where I’ve spent my energy and where else I might recuperate instead of during the day on a weekend, week nights for example I find I stay up a little later than I should for no real reason other than I want to see what happens at the end or just having one more game of whatever my current favourite mobile game is. That time could be spent sleeping to recuperate. Or some weeks I won’t try to get odd jobs done on weekdays, I’ll just crash for a few hours in front of the TV after their bedtime and the bait is made! So you should never feel guilty for having in the house days, everyone needs them but if you feel they are getting too lazy, start to think about why that might be and if you can change something to make it better, (whatever “better” for you is).

  6. Ephantus Murimi

    For every kid needs time to bond with his/her parents not only the father, so every father should spare his time to be kids for this bond to exist.

  7. Dan

    My wife is about 5 months pregnant and I have to confess that exhaustion (and the fear of exhaustion!) is something that’s been on my mind quite a lot recently. At the moment I’m trying to make the most of the last few months before the baby arrives and do all the things that might not be possible come October. I thought your comments about having realistic expectations were really sensible and this is something I’ll definitely take on board. Bring on the pyjama days!

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