A friend of mine has this fantastic routine on a Saturday. He can sum it up in just four words. Skips. Blades. Cider. Bed. He takes his son with him to the skipping session at his local boxing club and to see his beloved football team. I suspect his son, not yet a teenager, isn't really involved with the cider but in essence, he spends his day doing the activities he loves with child in tow.
Contrast this, if you will, with my Saturday. It starts nicely enough with a latte and the papers but from there it's downhill all the way until about 7.30. Between them, the children have five activities. Not many but they all need covering. So whilst my husband whizzes around doing that I get on with the mountain of school uniform that needs ironing. Then lunch, made in a hurry to squeeze it between swimming and ballet. The afternoon passes in a whirl of household duties and board games with maybe a bit of homework or a rehearsal thrown in for good measure. At some point there is likely to be a selection of other people's children who, to be fair, require very little input from me. Then tea together and some Saturday night drivel or a film on TV that we can watch together before I bath the little ones, read them their story and collapse, exhausted in a heap on the sofa with a large glass of white and my laptop.
Somehow the balance seems to have got skewed. If I do manage to leave the house at the weekend (and Sunday really isn't much better to be fair) then I see lots of families who have come to Ilkley for a day out. They aren't bogged down with food preparation or laundry.
Then I wonder, perhaps it's just me. Maybe other people just close their front door on it all and go out to embrace life while they can? This makes me feel worse because I can't do that. I need jobs to be finished before I can relax. And the jobs take all day...ergo.
But when I look closely I can see a number of differences between me and the people on their day trips. Firstly, and the most telling, they rarely have more than two children. Two bikes to pack, two mouths to feed, two lots of interests to cater for. When I just had two ( which I did until number 2 was four and a half) I could do trips with relative ease. it's not quite so simple these days.
Secondly, I suspect these families have two working parents and so need some leisure time all together. I don't. I see my kids all the time.
Finally they have come to Ilkley for a good day out - town, moors, park, woods river, Betty's. It's got it all. The perfect destination by car, bus or train. But I live here. I don't need to visit. We can and do fit in a lot of that stuff after school and I'm unlikely to brave the Riverside Gardens when it's full of visitors. Of course, there are other equally appealing places that we could visit but I never look at my surroundings and think that I must get away at the weekend.
I decided a long time ago that the weekend was when my real work began. The house is fuller, there needs to be more food and someone has to make preparations for the week ahead if it is all to run smoothly. My kids are busy and happy playing and chilling and if I were to suggest a trip out they would tell me that they are perfectly contented staying put. But I do look wistfully at my friend's day and sigh - Skips. Blades. Cider. Sleep!