Last weekend I had a rare treat – the chance to share two nights with just my eldest three kids. Before you jump on me, yes OF COURSE I missed my littlest two darlings. Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt – YES. But I also loved the chance to immerse myself in rare older child company – to do those things and talk about those subjects we often can’t do together because the little ones are around.
One of the hardest parts about parenting five children is balancing everything. Balancing the time spent with the pre-school aged kids, with that of the older children. Quite often it’s impossible to get it right and keep everyone happy, simply because in the cold, hard light of day – the little ones are more dependent. They are less self-sufficient and less able to fend for themselves. They express their dissatisfaction in the only way they know how: crying, whinging or clambering onto my lap and needing a cuddle.
More often than not, the others just have to wait their turn. And for them, this can get frustrating.
So when Lisa had the opportunity to go away for a special occasion with her parents for the weekend, and someone had to stay back to get the older kids to their sporting commitments, I jumped at the chance for some time with my ‘Bigs’. I was so excited to have the chance to enjoy time with them. She packed up the little ones and headed off to the Coast first thing Friday morning. I collected the ‘Bigs’ (as I affectionately refer to them) from school Friday afternoon. We all felt excited at the weekend that lay before us. We love them to bits, but as every parent or older sibling will appreciate – it can be hard work with little ones around. My sister and sister-in-law and their two kids came over to visit. Such wonderful, easy company.
We stoked up the brazier on the deck, which ordinarily might have been very stressful had my own rambunctious little ones been around. I had vivid images of both of them wanting to put the wood on the fire or toast their own marshmallows – definitely not a good option if you want a stress-free, relaxing Friday evening. Fortunately my two year old nephew wasn’t the slightest bit interested in venturing anywhere near the fire, and spent his time capitalising on having free, uninhibited access to all Master C’s coveted toys.
In typical fashion, the one night I had a bed to myself I couldn’t manage to go to sleep. After finally managing to drift off, I rolled over to find my Master M had decided it was his turn to share my bed with me. It made my heart melt. Even at the ripe old age of eight, I loved that he felt the urge to come and find me in the night seeing as the others were away. I squeezed him and drifted back off to sleep.
Getting ready for hockey training on Saturday morning was simple. I had to dress myself, and help Master M put his socks and shin pads on. That was it. No-one else to shower, dress or coerce into eating breakfast before we left! I actually managed, after this, to sit undisturbed apart from a toilet trip for myself, to watch Master M play sport. The day was beautiful, and I truly noticed and appreciated it. It was so strange not having to worry about chasing little ones, getting them snacks or changing nappies. We went home after the morning sport, had a bite to eat for lunch, did some washing and then had a glorious nanna nap in the afternoon before our planned evening out. Lis made the time away from the kids far more bearable by sending through regular pics and updates. I really didn’t worry about the little ones as I knew they were having such a wonderful time and being spoilt rotten.
The highlight of the weekend was our Saturday evening. Being keen not to overspend (if you saw what my ‘Bigs’ can eat these days you would understand) I jumped onto the Scoopon App and found a voucher for four of us to go for an early dinner sitting at the Sizzling Mongolian BBQ Restaurant at Taringa for a nifty fifty dollars. Plus there was a drink thrown in too! Talk about bang for buck (No sponsorship or kickbacks in this whatsoever). Lisa and I had been there previously and loved it.
It was an exciting new experience for them, whereby they were able to choose all their own raw stir fry ingredients from a buffet, and their own mixture of cooking sauces, to place in their bowl. They then lined up to watch their very own Asian stir fry meal cooked on the massive BBQ plate by chefs in front of them. Added to this was an array of unlimited dumplings, spring rolls, potato gems, hot chips and curry. My ‘bigs’ were in Asian food Heaven!
We sat, we laughed, we chatted and we ate. Family dinners together are always a treat, but for the big three, I know this one was extra special. I loved not being constrained by my budget and having to limit their choices from the menu, and they loved the novelty of the experience and the terrifically tasty food.
After dinner we decided to go for a drive to look at the nearby lit up University of Queensland campus. My eldest is in the midst of choosing his subjects to meet the needs of potential courses to study after high school and so this appealed to him. We stumbled across a Division two Men’s hockey game that featured players that we knew, so we all watched this together with a hot chocolate in hand, before venturing in to South Bank to make a short appearance at a dinner with some Junior Secondary staff from my school.
My three were all happy to sit, people watch and chat for a bit. The night time atmosphere of Stanley Street in South Brisbane on a Saturday night was alluring and exciting for them. In short, the night cost me about $60, and yet, in retrospect, the night we had was worth thousands.
It was a weekend I know I’ll remember for years to come – not because we did anything overly exciting, but because we had a chance for some intimate, uninterrupted time together.
For those of you with the opportunity to take some ‘time out’ with your kids, DO IT. I truly cannot think of a more delightful way to spend time or money.