The Weekend Row

It’s Saturday morning, we haven’t seen a lot of each other all week what with work and wrestling kids to bed and sitting on the sofa staring at the TV or our phones while eating dinner from our laps. Not exactly quality time.

I’ve been longing for the weekend and building up in my head that the kids sleep until 7am (my first mistake), we wake and smile sleepily at each other, and basically have a glorious weekend of walks, lunches, catching up with friends, the kids playing happily in the background.

We have a row most Saturday mornings. It usually starts well – at the weekends the kids pile in with us, we eat toast in bed, they smear jam all over the bedding but that’s ok because we get to stay in bed a teeny bit longer and they are gorgeously excited that we’re all together. Then it’s time to get the day started – there’s always somewhere to get to within a timeframe and a list of things that need to happen first, including getting everyone ready.

One benefit to having your partner around is the possibility of carrying out all bathroom ablutions without an audience. You’d think. However, it goes something like this: I’m in the shower, alone with my thoughts, and the door bursts open. I watch helplessly as the kids break in to the cupboard under the sink – the three year old is opening lids and the two year old is dropping tampons in the toilet. I start gently (reminding myself ‘loving voice, loving voice’) ‘Doug, darling, do you think you could take the kids out so I can shower?’. ‘Uh-huh’…three year old emptying cotton buds all over floor…two year old furiously spinning the toilet roll like an Andrex puppy… ‘Doug, they’ve got scissors and bleach’…and he replies in casual drawl ‘Yup, I’m com-ing…’. Through the open door I can see his feet unmoving at the end of the bed and Saturday Kitchen on in the background. I want to lie on the bed and watch Saturday Kitchen. And why am I the only one with any sense of urgency? ‘DOUG – WILL. YOU. GET. THE. KIDS’. He bundles them downstairs amid much wailing.

No matter, onwards and upwards. I get downstairs to find that breakfast has taken place. I know this because every cupboard door is open and everything that has been used is still out on the side. ‘If you put things away as you use them it’s much easier’ I sing, in my best don’t-hate-me-but-as-well-as-inefficient-this-is-fucking-tedious voice. I despise myself as much as the look on his face gives away his feelings towards me.  I bite my tongue from pointing out that I usually get breakfast the other six days of the week and don’t leave Weetabix to crust cement-like to the kitchen table. I know he works hard all week and I know this isn’t important in the grand scheme of things, but it creeps in to my mind regardless.

As well as being snippy, I can be mean to Doug. Last weekend he was in the toilet with the door shut, and I came bounding up the stairs and actually banged on the door, knowing full well what he was doing, shouting ‘are you going to be long?’. I can’t remember why I was hurrying him up. I do remember that he said ‘God, can’t I even go to the loo in peace’ and I wanted to yell ‘NO – no you CAN’T! What do you think I do when you’re not here and two of them follow me to the toilet’. A friend told me she actually had to hop off the toilet halfway through the other week, because her toilet training son bowled in needing a poo and, you know, you can’t make a not-quite-trained kid wait. However, this isn’t Doug’s fault – I am home more than him, I have more time with the kids. Both of us were home, so why was I feeling aggrieved that he didn’t have an audience or have to crap at breakneck speed?

to do list

Where weekends used to be a break from the working week, now it seems there is so much to do. The washing, something needs fixing, someone always needs new shoes…

Unfortunately, the list seems to exist in my head – it’s information that only I retain, so I am the weekend planner and giver of jobs. No one likes the giver of jobs. And I resent that it’s the weekend and I still have to be the one that remembers everything. I start steaming around the house, huffily shoving things in drawers, banging things down on the kitchen surface and generally being noisily narky. Equally, Doug feels put out as 1. He’s left the house every morning before 7am and only got back before 7pm twice, and 2. The wife is banging about and he’s not entirely sure why.

Yet when I talk to friends, it seems that many of us are in our homes on a Saturday morning going through similar. Look around at the weary couples at the park or the pool and you can see it. But that simmering tension, that sniping and the bitterness, it can’t be good for anyone. Especially when for most of the people I know at least, these are actually couples that love each other. I also shamefully know it’s not good for the children. We bicker in a through-gritted-teeth way, but our eldest has just started to shout ‘stop talking!’ if we’re having one of these ‘discussions’. Apparently it’s not only the volume that makes it clear mummy and daddy are a bit pissed off.

I can assure you that by Saturday evening we are cozied up on the sofa, fetching each other things, happily watching something together and letting that relaxed weekend feeling wash over us. Alas, then it’s half over. If only we could get to that feeling of harmony a bit earlier. We’ve been married for six years now, had children for almost four, so I’d like to work out how to avoid a bickery, pointless row of a Saturday.

For many women I think we’d desperately like to not be the one planning the weekend, worrying about catching up with family members and maintaining our friendships and having quality time both with the children and each other. Do we sometimes want them to take over, but to plan within our boundaries of timings and rules and basically do it exactly as we would do it?  It might just be possible we have impossible expectations.

It feels like our tolerance used to be higher, but maybe it’s just that we’ve used it all up dealing with children and colleagues and family goings-on and basically, our partners bear the brunt of the fact we’ve nothing left by Saturday. For many of us, gone are the days when everyone is home for tea together by 5.30pm. You haven’t seen each other much all week, you’ve been getting on with it and things are running relatively smoothly, thanks very much. Suddenly sharing roles and responsibilities takes a bit of adjusting. Especially if we’re hopeful that things become easier with our other halves around but in reality when it’s not all happening to our schedule and the way we would do it, we can find it unsettling and annoying.

Except I don’t want Doug to be me – I love the man and he brings something different to our kids as a parent. Plus can you imagine if there were two of us steaming about?!

Perhaps if I can just learn not to sweat the small stuff. And he can just be a little more punctual and tidy…

So tell me…are you rowing of a Saturday or have you cracked harmonious living? And if so, do share your secret!

Images from lanavaughan.com; denovahomes.com

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44 thoughts on “The Weekend Row

  1. Irene says:

    Soglad to read that we aren’t alone in this. And the toilet situation – just when I thought we were abnormal! What happened to romance!!?

  2. ToddlerSlave says:

    God this is our weekends to a T! The only difference is our arguments start during ‘sharing toast’ in our bed- hubby gets narky at Boo stealing his space in the bed and booting him out, whilst spreading crumbs only on his side- I actually took my tea and toast downstairs the other week coz I couldn’t handle their bickering! Your choice of phrase ‘not sweat the small stuff’ is actually one of my new year resolutions and I am trying my hardest to not mind a messy bombsite of a kitchen/bathroom/house when hubs is around- I just remind myself that I can clean it all up on Monday! (Unless we have weekend visitors- then Im a fucking anal nightmare!!!)
    Love your blog! X

    • Steph says:

      That’s my aim too! I can handle the big stuff, it’s the pointless stuff that drives me nuts and I waste SO much energy feeling anxious/stressy. Thank you, and glad you love the blog! x

  3. Jess Paterson says:

    So apt, Steph. I hate packing the bag for my hubs to take the kids off to football etc, but if I don’t, I know they will get back and they haven’t had snacks / shinpads and are have therefore had a massive hangry tantrum and / or incurred a crippling kick to the leg. Sigh. I think so many couples go through this. Maybe it gets better when the kids are older??? xxx

  4. Honest Mum says:

    Loved this, it describes many a weekend here, my husband works from home so we all get dinner and bedtime routine together and it helps if I’m on a deadline and he takes over bedtime but like you are do want to be less shouty-I’m a control freak though, I know it and my husband is much more laid back so to some extent he lets me organise a lot of stuff because I take over. Time to let him take control more I think x

  5. Steph says:

    Dear all

    Thank you so much for doing such a brilliant job at validating my life choices. No kids and no huband means I can lie in bed all day if I want without anyone messing up my kitchen counters. Bliss.

    Xoxo

    PS: feel free to take this opportunity to tell me all about what I’m missing out on and how you wouldn’t swap it for the world. Go on. You know you want to. Not to mention it will make you go all warm and gooey inside, and maybe just maybe you won’t be such bitches anymore. (You’re welcome. Spread the love.) *

    *tongue firmly planted in cheek (thought I’d make that clear as you’re obviously all crazy deranged!)

  6. Gill says:

    Brilliant Steph, I love it. We have swimming lessons at 9am on Saturday morning, so if you can blur this blog with your earlier post with the ‘swimming bag’ argument you have my household cracked 🙂

    • Steph says:

      9am on a Saturday? Ouchie. Although perhaps getting out of the house helps? Or just means quiet, under breath bickering? Thanks Gill x

  7. Mummy Says says:

    Is it bad that I tend to leave Tony at home with the kids while I go off to yoga on a Saturday morning? They all get quality time together, I get a whole 90 minutes of no-one asking me to do something for them, and I take myself away from the possibility of a row. Great post as always lovely x

    • Steph says:

      Sounds like you have the right idea! Trying to do everything as a four isn’t always the solution I’m finding – bit of time out helps all round! x

  8. Louise says:

    Oh my goodness you have just described our Saturday morning too! Even if hubby lets me sleep in (admittedly usually only taking the kids downstairs once I am already quite awake and annoyed) I come downstairs to find the house a disaster zone and all the chores still waiting for me. Hence the weekend starting with me being ‘noisily narky’ as you so beautifully put it and a row brewing. Jessica now shouts ‘stop mummy, stop daddy’ when we argue which stops is fairly quickly but it is not fair on the kids really when the weekend starts like this. Maybe I just need to communicate better ahead of time. If you find the solution let me know! Great post

    • Steph says:

      So apparently this communication thing is worth a try? I was definitely less angry last weekend having written this, and we gave each other a bit of time to ourselves. This marriage malarkey is a steep learning curve eh? xx

  9. Verily Victoria Vocalises says:

    I have just read this to Ross and we have realised that we are rather abnormal! We work at home together all week and Ross is pretty good at helping and putting things away. Don’t get me wrong…we do bicker… a lot!..but it is more about the fact that we are never out of each others hair! Great post Steph. Thanks for linking to PoCoLo 🙂 x

  10. Suzanne says:

    I am in a mood every Saturday morning and I’ve yet to work out the reason why. What I have realised, is that unless we communicate with one another (in terms of what we hope to get out of the weekend) then we will spend the entire 48 hours griping at each other. It took a while to get that bit! Basically, we are both hoping to relax in some way. I hate doing nothing (With young kids you’ve done enough of that by Saturday) and he wants to do nothing (as he’s worked all week). We’ve learnt to compromise. I am still in a mood though, I have to just tell myself not to be! I think it’s partly to do with your theory that during the week I’ve got it covered. That and the fact I don’t like change!

    • Steph says:

      The mood thing is so weird – we’re all fired up before we’ve even got started, and don’t really know why?! Thanks Suzanne – at least we know we’re not on our own xx

  11. Sam says:

    Ah Steph this is so recognisable (except I think my relationship issues go a bit beyond this!). Have you ever watched the film Before Midnight? I wrote this post about it: http://andthenthefunbegan.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/why-before-midnight-will-resonate-if-you-are-a-mother/ – essentially it is an examination of what goes wrong for a woman (mentally/emotionally) in a relationship once there are kids in the equation. Both me and my sister agreed that it resonated with us entirely! I also wrote this post http://andthenthefunbegan.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/its-a-mans-world/ about how, for me, feminist issues are taken much more seriously in the workplace than they are in the home (and by feminist issues, I mean stuff like the family planning and organisation, the cleanliness and order in the home) always falling to the woman. Sorry this was so rambly! X

  12. Katie says:

    Same, same, same! And i hate myself for flipping out over crumbs on the floor or something else totally insignificant but i just can’t not! I wish i could go back to being carefree. I know i’m the tw*t and i always end up apologising.
    p.s Do you and the kids lie in until 10am?! That’s saturday kitchen time and i am super jealous if that’s the case, i can barely keep ours upstairs past 7 🙁 x

    • Steph says:

      Don’t worry – we’re up with the larks for breakfast downstairs and then we lure them upstairs with toys and toast so we can get ready and *try* to lie about…it’s not really working! And at least you apologise – it’s on my list of things to be better at… xx

  13. Lisa Gardiner says:

    Omg Steph you have just made me lol lots and lots simply because you put into such great words many many of our Saturdays!!! We do try to take it in turns to lie in on Saturdays and Sundays as gars a lorry driver away most of the week and i work at a pub Fri and sat nights its hard work right now but Sundays are our family days and its just so lovely monging around with no particular place to be! Well except occasionally like nct sales (last Sunday) or wedding fairs (this Sunday). Another fab post Steph, take care xxxx

  14. Ian says:

    Good post

    I don’t know if I’m invading the space with a man’s-eye view of this, but here goes: My wife and I have a similar set-up in terms of two young children and me going to work, although my wife also works freelances from home.

    One way we avoid this weekend issue is to give each other a lie-in on Saturday and Sunday. I get up with the kids; do breakfast, walks in the park lunch and nap and then we’ll either join forces or have a day for ourselves (she Saturday, me Sunday). One drawback is that if you do this all the time, family time with all members present ends up taking a back seat – but at least you’re both rested by Sunday!

    On the other issue you mention, that of wanting things done but insisting on your way of doing it, that’s always going to cause a row! I don’t pretend to speak for all men but, of the ones I know, most find this beyond the pale.

    By all means set tasks or ask for things to be done. Even deadlines, where appropriate, are reasonable – just don’t micro-manage the task because, as you rightly pointed out, we have our own methods of doing things.

    Hope that’s useful from the other perspective.

    • Steph says:

      Thank you Ian – and most definitely not invading space! We have a few friends that have said they find it better if they don’t try to all be together (as noone gets any down time), or each takes a kid and then meet up later. Other friends swear by each having lists so it’s not a case of constantly reminding (nagging).

      I completely agree that it’s ridiculous if we ask someone to do something and then feel aggrieved at how it is done. Now I’ve said this out loud, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to check myself and not be slamming about tomorrow, and Doug will understand what’s going on in my head if i do…I’ll let you know! Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

  15. Shivaunne says:

    “….but in reality when it’s not all happening to our schedule and the way we would do it, we can find it unsettling and annoying.” That has completely hit the nail on the head, so true for me!

  16. Nicola says:

    ‘Noisily narky’, yep that can be me some Saturdays. I know what you mean about it all especially those bloody lists of chores/jobs. I’m trying to abandon the list, she says, whilst wincing at the embarrassing overgrown front garden that has been on the list for ages. Grrrrr 😉

  17. Complicated Gorgeousness says:

    Yes. This is exactly us. And it is usually my hubby wanting to do stuff and I want to chill and have tea and toast and get going at 1pm. It was worse when we had to take turns to take daughter to ballet at 10am (never ever do that!). Another brill post x

  18. Life at the Little Wood says:

    Steph, you could have actually described our house on a Saturday morning too! It’s so like this it’s unbelievable! I think the problem exists here because I am so uptight and organised, whereas the hub is as laid back as they come. I’m used to getting the kids to school on time during the week, whereas he can barely get himself to work on time! If you find a solution let me know!! Xx

  19. Lauranne says:

    A thought, have you tried sitting and discussing whats needed for Saturday morning the night before? Me and my ex used to think we had discussed plans for the weekend, but clearly we hadn’t as often I would think we had nothing planned so would snooze in bed only to get up for breakfast and be told it was ‘too late’ to do something or ‘hurry up we were going to do this, this and that today and now we won’t have time.’ He would swear blind he had told me what he had hoped to achieve over the weekend but he never did because otherwise I would have been up and ready when we needed to be.
    I’m not saying that you don’t communicate but i thought it might help!

    • Steph says:

      Thanks Lauranne – I think it’s more just both being knackered, but I’m sure I could communicate better than stomping around! Will give it a go x

  20. Jude says:

    Oh God, it’s only Friday afternoon and I can feel a row brewing already. I so know what you mean – I always thinking weekends will be easier cos I’ve got an extra pair of hands but no chance. I’ve just got someone extra to boss about. Grrrr. Fingers crossed for tomorrow. Maybe we’ll break the habit of a parenthood lifetime. Great observations as always Steph, x

  21. Wally Mummy says:

    Oh god it’s the same here… I’m such a botch to my husband on a Saturday morning. And now I’m pregnant I’m a mega bitch who doesn’t let anything drop and basically cries from around 9am… lol! It’s like it’s been building all week and then I can’t help but unleash it! Oh well. Goes with the territory. He destroyed my womb, now he gets to go to Costa and buy make-up-chocolate-twists. FACT. 🙂 x

    • Steph says:

      Oh love – at least you have the hormone excuse? It’s the not letting things drop. I Must. Try. Harder. All geared up to NOT row this weekend! x