by Lark

DH and I had a brutal week a few weeks ago. Work was both high volume and high complexity, DH had 2 evening commitments, and one of the animals (and therefore one of our credit cards) wound up at the emergency vet, and everyone was fighting colds. By Friday night all I wanted to do was put on PJs at 6pm and have a glass of wine, but we had a friend’s birthday party to attend first. I woke up Saturday morning completely wrung out, and determined to spend the weekend recharging my batteries.

I ended up splitting my day into 4 parts. In the morning I puttered around the house, catching up on the laundry, paperwork, and general clutter that snuck in while I was distracted with the week. This went a long way to restoring my mood, since I’m definitely a person who needs outer order for inner calm. Then we all went out to lunch, which I love doing as a family on the weekends. After lunch I ran a couple errands, and bought the boys new basketballs. This was a strategic move on my part – when I got home from running errands they were thrilled to have new balls and spent the next 2 hours outside playing basketball wearing themselves out while I sat on the couch and read a book. When they came in, I spent another hour or 2 on general housework, and then a delightful hour cooking dinner while watching college basketball.

By evening, I felt a million times better. The house was back to general order, I’d had some downtime, and I’d had the double treat of a lunch date and a couple hours to myself reading.

When you’ve had an unusually exhausting week, how do you recharge to get your energy back?


122 thoughts on “Recharging

  1. CofC,

    Before we start can I suggest a future post?

    What would you do with an extra (after tax) $2500 month?

    Totebaggers have kids no longer in day care, kids aging out of the need for a nanny, some even graduating from college. Others are getting new jobs, promotions, etc. What are some of the things you’re doing or would like to do with these newly available funds?

  2. Wow, Lark, you are *much* more energetic than I am. For me, recharging would never involve housework, errands or cooking. More like pajamas all day, binge watching Netflix and ordering in.

  3. +1 Risley. Also, maybe getting a massage.

    Sometimes I turn the music up loud and dance around the house. That helps my mood. Doesn’t help the cat’s mood, though.

  4. Mia – good topic; I hope to learn something to use THIS WEEKEND.

    The last couple of months have been very stressful due to real work workload. In addition to this being our busy time of the year (roughly mid-Jan to mid-May), there’s been a project I’ve been leading with about 50% of the time demand as “regular” work. The project should end during the first week in April.

    To cope and stay relatively pleasant around the house I have been able to go to the gym after work 4-5x/wk (my normal). Like Mia, I have gone into the office a couple of weekend mornings (not that unusual for this time of year) just to really be caught up when Monday comes around.
    I have also tried with some success to go to bed early enough to get => 7.5hrs of sleep Sun-Thurs.

  5. Lark – that day sounds more like “catching up” than recharging – I would also need a nap!

    We had a hard week last week with 2 non-stop days in the office (so 10 through evening) plus my choir in between, and my parents and sister and BIL visiting. BUT then on Friday I got sick and am still not 100% back yet, so I feel like I need an extra weekend when I get better to catch up on everything. Blerg. I find working from home makes it much easier for me to get work done while I am sick, though, so at least I don’t feel behind as much.

  6. I, too, need my house in order to truly relax. Lark: That sounds like a perfect day.

  7. Cooking something I enjoy doing at a leisurely pace, maybe something that is slow or has many steps,is recharging for me. I also like making frittatas, biscuits, or similar for beakfast on a slow morning.


    I’d rather join in the game of basketball, or do some other physical activity, preferably with loved ones, after a nap.

    Errands and housework are the antithesis of recharging for me.

  8. Ah naps. I’ve always been a big fan of naps. Even as a kid other kids would fight taking a nap and I was always, “Naps? Great!”

  9. “I, too, need my house in order to truly relax. ”

    Me too. But getting it there is not part of the relaxing for me.

    Fred, weren’t you trying to lose weight? All that gym time must be helping!

  10. Ha. Lark, that is a “work” day around here. I too need a perfectly clean house to truly relax. SO i would clean the house for half a day, work out, then really relax on the sofa for the rest of the day. And next day. Then one day afterwards to run errands, pre-cook stuff and get ready for the week.

  11. I hadn’t thought of this much before. My usual recharging of choice is to veg out, NOT do housework or run errands. I realize as an introvert recharging usually means not having to talk with people. However, it may also mean doing the opposite of what wore me out. So, for example, if I needed to recover from an intensive work session that involved heavy reading, writing, and arithmetic, then recharging might mean going out with friends for dinner and drinks.

    I’ve never been able to nap and am envious of those who enjoy them.

  12. I am enjoying my first child-free day in several years (well, until preschool ends at 2), so apparently my answer is: go to the library and browse the new books without anyone tugging on me, run four miles at the beach, take a long shower without anyone pounding on the door, and eat cheesecake.

    I also sent a bunch of PTA emails and ran some laundry :)

    I’m not sure I can stand it much longer, though, so I will start polishing up the old resume….

  13. “I am enjoying my first child-free day in several years” oh dear

    Speaking of child-free time, recharging for me sometimes used to involve going out shopping by myself and not really having anything I needed to buy. Basically window shopping and buying something if it struck my fancy.

  14. Woot, woot, Sky! Hope you enjoy it this much every time. Pickup was always the best part of my day.

  15. No material weight loss; I’m kinda stuck in the 2 steps forward – 2.2 steps back mode. Being at work more hours than usual does not help. Always food here and for some reason I continue to “save” my limited supply of willpower rather than “spend” some of it and actually resist the leftover cookies mid afternoon.

  16. Heaven to me is being able to wake up without an alarm, then lie in bed and sort of plan my day/order my thoughts before anyone hits me with what they need from me. After that, I’m like Lark. I get weird joy out of efficiently marking things off the list, so if I could throw in a load of laundry, then go run five errands on the list (with no traffic, no lines, everything going as planned) then come home and move clothes to dryer, grab a walk and/or shower all by 11:00, I’d be in a really good mood for the rest of the day. After that, if I got to be in control, I’d sit on the couch with a book, my iPad for checking the news, and HGTV on. This driv s my DH crazy, so if he is hanging out with me I would put on a movie he likes. If I had that kind of day, by dinner I’d be ready to go out somewhere or cook a more involved dinner, with a glass of wine.

  17. CoC – that is still heaven to me. Especially not having to rush! Even if I go shopping without the kids these days I always feel like I have to rush back.

  18. I also use shopping by myself as recharge time. The less I need to look for the better.

  19. Fred I can fill you in on my diet if you want. I’ll keep my mouth shut if not.

  20. Moxie, I always want to hear everyone’s successful diet strategies, even if Fred doesn’t. And S&M, what has been working for you?

  21. If I’m really wiped out, I need to spend some non-productive time lounging around. That could be reading, playing a computer game or doing sudoku, or even watching something, but laundry, paperwork, housework, etc., don’t recharge me. Leisurely cooking kinda sorta does, but it still doesn’t feel like real down time. And really, even for normal weekends everyone else in my household feels free to claim a solid block of non-productive time on the weekend and if I spend all weekend tidying and organizing while others spend significant time lounging I get very cranky. I find it works better to just give myself permission to take some solidly nonproductive time of my own, and then crack the whip for all of us to get some life maintenance done during a limited period.

  22. Ha! I’ll tell you what doesn’t work–eating high fat (even within calorie limits) all week and then having a cheat meal. That’s what I’ve just done. Friday before heading out to my parents, the scale said I’d lost another 1.5. Today it says I weigh 4 more than I did Friday. FOUR. Sunday noon with them is almost always buffet at the club. I usually eat whatever I want then and it doesn’t throw me off track. Not this time, buddy. I ate the same as usual. Only difference is the lead-up. I have been eating a low-fat, high-protein diet, getting moderate exercise, and lifting heavy. Completely fell off that band wagon last week. Right now I’m climbing back onto it, bowl of low-fat Greek yogurt + protein powder + berries in hand. I checked out what one of my favorite gurus, Nick Nilsson, had to say about it in his Metabolic Surge. There is a whole page on lepitin and stuff, explaining why a cheat meal is good after a stretch of low-fat, high protein days. I can’t evaluate his science, but I’ve just proven, with an n of 1, that it works for me.

    Klartext: low fat, high protein, keeping moving and lifting heavy is what I’ve found works.

  23. I’ve always thought the best time of day is when you wake up don’t have to get up, so you can just lie in bed for an hour, dozing off and on.

    I’m with those who need order – I’ve been doing a lot of purging and organizing lately and I feel so good when it’s done. After a morning of doing something productive, binge watching a good show always helps me relax.

    And doing something fun as a family works wonders. Sunday morning we went for a “hike”, basically about an hour walk through a local park. Then we capped it off by letting DS drive into the carwash, and DW and I took advantage of the captive audience and sang along to “oldies” songs at the top of our lungs.

  24. Ok, Since October, I’ve been doing the 5:2 diet. Super easy. Two days of the week (Monday and Thursday) are fast days for me I only eat 500 calories (usually two peppers and edamame for lunch) and popcorn for dinner and a lot of water and coffee with no sugar. The remaining days I eat just like I did before. I try to be mindful but today I had two pieces of artisan toast with butter and 3 strips of bacon for breakfast, I had brussel sprouts for lunch, a cheese quesadilla, an apple and probably 10 Nilla wafers. Ziti tonight. I’ve lost 25 pounds without changing anything else. I’m stuck where I am even though I would prefer another 7 lbs but feeling good if this is where I stay. It works for me because I really only have to think about it for two days of the week and the rest of the time its not my primary issue. If something comes up I’ll move the fast day up or back and over Christmas I didn’t do it at all. I walk 5 miles most days but I did that before. And that is literally it. The weight dropped off really quickly for me. So for Monday’s fast I eat dinner on Sunday (usually spaghetti and meatballs) and then go back to regular eating on Tuesday morning. Works for me. I was inspired by Jimmy Kimmel who has taken off a lot of weight and kept it off for 2 years.

  25. “if I spend all weekend tidying and organizing while others spend significant time lounging I get very cranky.”

    As you should! I often refer to leisurely cooking as “cooking like a man”, because the whole second shift thing means that women do the daily grind of keeping everyone nourished, but when men cook, it is often (not saying it’s true in every household) the fun stuff. That dynamic isn’t true for us, but it is in many families. Grr.

  26. Moxie – that’s what my doc did/is doing. Lost 45lbs and now maintaining. I have not yet been successful on the ‘2’ days!

  27. I am not sure there is a single recipe. I tend to agree with CoC that while it can be active, it needs to be the opposite of whatever it was that was draining. Sometimes, it is getting that “thing” done that you have been putting off because you are too busy with other stuff. Pedicure, massage, exercise class, seeing a friend, decluttering the pile that built up, etc.

    Next week DD#2 and I are going on a short cruise (our first). It is the first time in a little over 2 years that I am away from home without being “in charge”. OK, I am still a parent, but not care giving for my mom or responsible for the event or responsible for kids other than mine. At first it was feeling stressful – planning my packing, then realizing we are on two different airlines with different baggage requirements, and having to rethink my packing – but, now I am ready and can’t wait to go! It has also motivated me to get somethings done around the house and at work because I don’t want to “come back” to it that way. I am seeing more on my “to do” list done the past two weeks than in the past two months.

  28. “cooking like a man”

    Yup. Guilty as charged. I’m actually a pretty good cook, but I dislike / border on detesting the meal-planning that I realize is actually necessary. I’ll make a ton of e.g. pesto sauce when the basil is ready for me to do that and freeze or refrigerate it until we want to eat some, always enough to see us through to the next summer when I make more. It’s fun, it takes a day, and serves as actual meal prep for the night I’m making it. Usually. Unless we already have something else planned for that night. Then it’s just fun.

  29. I am totally with Risley and DD here. A catch-up weekend starts off by staying in my PJs and robe as long as I can get away with. There will be a lovely long session either in my recliner or in the hanging chairs out back, involving either the DVR or some book. Maybe if it’s nice walk or bike or go to the library or something similar that requires no clocks or effort or deadlines (but only if I felt like getting out of my robe, or DH guilted me into it). Saturday night would then be dinner out with DH, with or without the kids.

    Sunday would involve a grocery shop and then leisurely cooking both for Sunday dinner and to stock up for the week. I would very happily spend zero time getting house chores done, but my version of re-instituting “order” is knowing that I have the week’s meals planned out around our schedules and prepped as much as I can. So Sunday AM is the day that I come up with the ideas and then figure out which meal goes on which night, e.g., leisurely evening = a real meal that I would not be embarrassed to report here, including protein, veg, and fruit; DH is out = leftovers; we need to bust out for a kid event = looks like hot dogs and/or frozen M&C. Then we’d all sit down to something yummy and homemade, and in my fantasy world we’d laugh and the kids would not snipe at each other.

  30. I haven’t had good luck with intermittent fasting because I have mild GERD, and going without any food at all means I start dry heaving about two hours into the morning. It doesn’t go away, either. Oh well, I know some people swear by it.

  31. Fred, I think men get 600 calories on fast days. I think that even if you can’t quite do that it counts. I mean it is basically taking all the calories that you would give up little by little over the week into two days. I’d rather be miserable for two than bummed and unsatisfied every day. My husband does what he calls “light days” on those days just to maintain for him. I’ve also found that once I get to 4 pm then I feel like if I fall off, the whole day would have been a waste. I do go to bed early on fast days just to get away from the food and the popcorn is great because it is a lot of back and forth and crunchy so it fills you up and feels like you are actually eating. Good luck tho!

  32. on recharging – staying away from the political thread helps. =)

    More sleep, watching stand-up (Jonathan Winters or Robin Williams usually does the trick), taking a walk and just some alone time helps me.

  33. There will be a lovely long session either in my recliner or in the hanging chairs out back, involving either the DVR or some book.

    Doesn’t your spouse come and bug you for attention? DH and I have always had different privacy needs (i.e., I actually need some.) Reading, or surfing the web, or watching a movie he doesn’t like is interpreted as ignoring him, and shortly after that I have to spend a lot of time reassuring him that we’re still okay as a couple. Going to bed earlier than he does is also “abandonment”. I swear I have no idea what I’m going to do when he actually retires.

  34. I avoid naps like the plague. If I take a nap — even a short one — I can’t go to sleep at night. And then I’m exhausted and cranky the whole next day because of the lack of night-time sleep. If I’m tired, I find it’s WAY better for me to just slog my way through the entire day and then go to bed early, rather than to take a nap.

    Re. weekend relaxation, I’ve started attending a Saturday morning yoga class religiously. I love doing yoga, and the class is at 9:30, which means it’s late enough that I can sleep in, but early enough that I still have the bulk of Saturday available for other things. I find this puts both my mind and body in a good state to enjoy (or deal with) the rest of the weekend.

  35. leisurely evening = a real meal that I would not be embarrassed to report here

    We do end up with Totebag pop quizzes on ‘what you ate for dinner this week” every few months, don’t we? One of these days we should mix it up and have a post to list fake weekly menus, like maybe what a favorite character would have eaten for dinner every night, or what your counterpart from 100 years ago ate every night.

  36. A friend is doing the alternate day diet – regular eating one day, 500* max the next. (*Her plan had you figure out your “normal” calories and reduce to 20% or 500 whichever is larger. Then work your way down to the 500, if possible. This is not just for large people, but also if you have a physically demanding job.) She has lost 20 pounds in the first month, but says after the first three weeks the loss has slowed down. She finds the every other day hard. I’m going to mention the 5-2 to her.

  37. Austin, my brain short-circuited at seeing “massage” and “decluttering” in the same list of crap to do. How often do you get massages that they are a routine task?

  38. Austin, every other day sounds really really hard. Maybe she can maintain on the 5:2.

  39. “Doesn’t your spouse come and bug you for attention?”

    Yes! He will get lonely and offended if nobody wants to hang out with him.

  40. Lark – your day sounds great to me! I find that I cannot relax if there are chores that need doing, so I am much happier reading/relaxing if the kitchen is clean, the beds are made, etc.

    I find that things like doing dishes or swiffering the floor are much more enjoyable if I put on good music, and I make a game of it – I need to do x before the song is over.

  41. RMS – yes, likewise! DH sometimes gets like that if I am *working* during the day and not taking ‘enough’ breaks to pay attention to him. (Of course, daytime is not his preferred working time, so that is part of it!)

  42. if I spend all weekend tidying and organizing while others spend significant time lounging I get very cranky

    I don’t care about this when it comes to the kids. They can veg all they want on the weekend as long as their stuff gets done at some point.

    Theoretically it would bother me with DH, but in reality he works way, way harder than I do. On the particular Saturday in the post he actually worked all day although he did meet us for lunch. (Like I said, it was a brutal week.)

    it needs to be the opposite of whatever it was that was draining

    Austin, I think you hit the nail on the head. For me, it was a week of commitments, and brain-challenging ones, so the opportunity to mindlessly putter/organize with no agenda or deadline was so refreshing. If it had been a physically exhausting week, lounging might have fit the bill. Nice insight.

  43. S&M – Don’t something you put off and “crap to be done” aren’t always synonyms. I have been having an issue with my leg. If I can get a massage about once a month – the therapeutic type – I can maintain my workout scheudule without pain.

    Lark – I think CoC said it first, I just didn’t get her comment read before I posted. This week has had a lot of “at the computer” time and I am craving anything, even the grocery store, that requires moving around.

  44. On the diet front: I have also heard of a a strategy of setting yourself up to have a long stretch of fasting each 24 hours, most of them while you are sleeping. In other words, eat your calories during a 10 hour stretch, say from 8:00-6:00, and then don’t eat after 6 pm. Even doing it for 12 hours is supposed to be helpful. I can do that several days a week, but it helps that I like to eat unfashionably early (at least according to my siblings and parents!).

    RMS – would that be too hard on your stomach?

  45. Ssk, I have been doing 8-hour eating windows, but I don’t see any improvement. I think for me it has to be more radical.

  46. SSK, in that way, i guess I’m a natural faster. I want breakfast, brunch, lunch and a late afternoon snack. After that, I generally don’t care if I get any more to eat.

    Austin, now I get it. Injury is also the only time I’ve gotten regular massages.

  47. RMS – yes! And this is new for me. He has always, since we were dating, had hobbies that consume 1-2 nights a week and half a weekend. That was perfect for me because I got the quiet time I needed. Now that he is working through an injury he’s here every night, plus has all the energy he’s not getting out through his activities. It’s requiring some adjusting.

  48. My DH is the most social introvert I’ve ever known. If I or the kids want to do something with him, he’ll immediately agree and will be ON the entire time. But deep down, he loves to be left alone. On days I want to zone out alone with a book or whatever, he is gleeful about finding his own quiet place and letting me have mine. A few times each year, I invent reasons why I can’t make it to the cottage with him for the weekend because I know he absolutely loves being alone up there with the dog, doing their trail runs and reading and having no one to talk to for 48 straight hours. But he’s too polite to ever suggest I stay home and let him go on his own.

  49. “Doesn’t your spouse come and bug you for attention?”

    Honestly, most of those weekends are because I am either borderline sick (usually what I am guessing is temporary thyroid underperform — I don’t do well when I am working too hard for too long and end up with days I just can’t get out of the chair) or when I am injured. This last weekend was both — travel last week that aggravated what started as another minor cartilage injury in the rib cage into serious pain. So when I am in that mode, he doesn’t even try — if he gets bored (which he does), he rousts the kids and takes them out somewhere for something to do.

    But, yes, that is why I now usually have to get dressed before noon on the weekends. :-( I have an infinitely higher tolerance/preference for doing absolutely nothing than DH. He doesn’t bug me for attention, he just gets grumpy and sulky from being bored, so usually I try to see that coming and get going before he gets to that point.

    This was the topic of much conversation/negotiation/frustration early in our marriage, btw. So he has 20 years of practice in tolerating my weekend morning sloth, and I have 20 years of experience in reading him so I can get moving before he’s ready to blow.

  50. RMS – that is too bad on the 8 hour window not working.

    On your other issue I totally sympathize! When DH was out of town multiple days each week I was always happy/sad – missed him but loved the quiet evenings where I could watch whatever I wanted, etc. Now he is semi-retired and is around a lot, which is great, but when he is gone for meetings all day he is always worried that I will be sad or not be able to handle things (not really). Also, he seems to think that lunch is an organized meal, rather than a sandwich or salad made up of things in the fridge. It drives me crazy when he eats leftovers that I was going to use for dinner for lunch – now I have to plan something new for dinner!!!! That is an extremely minor thing to complain about, I know, but now my rant is over.

    S&M – My favorite meal is afternoon tea. I could eat that and be done for the day!

  51. Dh also gets upset if I don’t hang out with him in the evenings (even if he’s working in his office he’d like for me to sit on the sofa and chat for a while). Last night I had to watch the movie Neighbors with him, which was awful, but he would have felt bad if I had gone upstairs to read.

    So my perfect recharging weekend would involve DH taking the kids all of Sat. morning (which he generally does anyway because they have swim lessons) and I would putter in my pjs, drink coffee, start some laundry and go for a walk/do some yoga. I also need the house in order to have inner calm so that would be done first. Lunch out for sure and DH would cook dinner AND put the kids to bed while I drink nice wine/eat cheese. Sundays I like to wake up and go for a family hike after a big breakfast and then get my menu planned for the week/do some projects at home.

  52. My husband is happy as a clam when left in peace to kill monsters / conquer neighboring civilizations from the comfort of his recliner. If everyone else in the house quietly went off somewhere on a weekend day while he was immersed in a game I’m not sure how long it would take him to notice we were gone.

  53. I don’t get bugged for attention much, as he plays an online game and is very content to spend multiple hours each day there. At first, I did have to put a stop to the bajillion interruptions when I first started working from home. Oddly enough, that meant telling everyone that if I am in my “office” (also guest room) with the door shut and you hear me taking it means I am on the phone and you need to wait or quietly slip me a note!

  54. I thoroughly enjoy my weekend mornings when I am the first to get up (pretty much every weekend day), especially if I don’t have to head out to do something, meet a contractor, etc. Unlike some here and DW, I’m not one to laze the day away in my pjs; I’ll dress (jeans and weather dependent shirt) go downstairs, put away the now-dry dishes from the night before, set up for breakfast, make coffee, read the WSJ & local rag. Unless I/we were especially organized and productive the night before and the errands I’m going to do are able to be done in the relatively early morning, then I’ll go do them, and usually be back home before anyone else is up. Other things I’ll do if I’m staying home pre-breakfast are the week’s accumulation of paperwork, bill pay, look at investments (I’m trying really hard to look only 1x/wk, tough for me), write a list of what I want to get done. By the time anyone else is ready to come downstairs, I’m ready for some company.

  55. So the theme seems to be that husbands who play online games wont bug you for attention. Too bad my DH is not into gaming. But he does leave me alone when watching his favorite sports. But then I have kid duty, so its not relaxing at all.

  56. Dell – I noticed the gaming aspect. Not true here though–I don’t think my DH has played an online game in his life. He wouldn’t even play XBox or PS3 w/ DS. I’m surprised more guys aren’t thrilled to be left alone. I thought this was a guy thing.

  57. Not online, in my husband’s case — he used to do that with friends when the kids were small, but the problem was that he’d feel a social obligation not to desert his buddies when they’d arranged to meet and were usually in the middle of a fight (relying on one another’s support), so he’d be unavailable to deal with the various kid incidents, and that did not make for harmony in the household. Offline games such as Civ and the various fantasy 4Xs are turn-based so the player can suddenly leave the computer, not come back for an hour, and not have died and/or let down other players.

  58. Honest question: when you all are saying “bug me” is that code for the subject we don’t discuss or does it simply mean leave you in your quiet place for a while?

    I’m not one to go track down DW if we’re each doing our own thing on a weekend day and she’s unlikely to come bug me either, unless it’s for help with something.

    Especially if there’s the chore list to be addressed. As long as we’re communicating about what’s being done by whom and generally when (“later” works as an answer), we both get some space while also getting some together time.

  59. ” I’m surprised more guys aren’t thrilled to be left alone. I thought this was a guy thing.”

    That’s my husband and also applies to me, so we’re very compatible. We like to be alone in the same house. I think we’re also pretty flexible, so it’s not as if we ignore each other all day. I find this conversation amusing and revealing.

    However, one thing I’ve noticed now that I’ve been reading more is I really, really like to be alone and free of all distractions when I’m reading. So the other day I was in my comfy bedroom chair reading when my H had the audacity to come in and pack for a trip. All the walking back and forth from the closet and opening of drawers was so rude! ;) (And I used to be able to become easily engrossed in a book while riding the subway. I think I’m out of practice or I’m old.)

  60. It is so interesting to read how everyone approaches their down time. When my kids were younger I used to long for DH to take them somewhere for the day — ALL day — and let me putter about the house by myself, reveling in the silence, reading the entire newspaper or a book, gardening, calling my sister, listening to sacred choral music or watching a chick flick that would otherwise never fly in a house full of guys. That was much more appealing than the offer I sometimes got to spend a free day off somewhere by myself while they stayed home. Because, in that case, what would inevitably happen was that they would go on a brief outing, return after lunch, when DH would get back to work, and the kids would be left to their own devices. They have a very nice dinner waiting for me, but the house would be a wreck.

    Does anyone else crave being Home Alone?

  61. “Does anyone else crave being Home Alone?”

    I love it, for the reasons you mentioned. One area in which H and I are incompatible is our tastes in music, and it seems to be getting worse. So if I’m alone I can blast my music as loud as I want without feeling guilty.

  62. Scarlett – oh, definitely!!! Our nanny took the kids for a couple of days when they were on vacation and it was GREAT (except I had to work, so not so great).

  63. Re: gaming: it is ever-present at our house — DH has an iPad with him at all times and is always playing a game or reading something, even when we’re watching a show together. Like HM said, it is not online stuff any more, just one of those things where he can build up and place his tanks and fortifications and then walk away until the next commercial or whatever. I’ve actually picked up the habit, too, between Mystery Manor, Strategeries, Bejeweled, and, now Word Brain 2 (thanks, DD). It’s pretty rare to unitask even on leisure any more. :-)

    Maybe that’s why I still like reading. . . .

  64. “watching a chick flick that would otherwise never fly in a house full of guys.”

    This really resonated with me. I have confessed in the past to watching a lot of junk TV shows. Now I can’t seem to get enough of tear jerkers and English period pieces – stuff DH and the boys would never watch.

  65. Fred,

    In my case it is not code for sex, although it is true that if we’ve had sex within the last 24 hours he’s a lot more cheerful about everything. But he STILL wants to watch the same movie/TV show, wants me to talk to him instead of surfing online, etc. And I guess what really bugs me is that he doesn’t want me to listen to him — he wants me to talk entertainingly of many things, and some days I don’t have anything entertaining to say. I’m not the damn TV.

  66. I understand Lark’s desire for order completely. There is so much going on around me right now, including a bunch of financial stuff for my volunteer org, extended family issues (mostly good) including some unexpected travel, finishing the taxes, buying a new car by the end of April, framing a couple of pictures. I turned down a number of possible engagements just so I could have time to keep things in order. I made long detailed single goal to do lists last night, and just that act with the anticipation of getting to check stuff off made me feel better. The big deal is that DIL is getting a part time job and I am back up childcare, with probably a couple of late afternoon pick ups a week. I said I would do it until the end of the school year since it is hard to cobble coverage together at this point, but I am already feeling hemmed in just in anticipation. It has been 7 months since we gave over the basement to DD, and I am beginning to notice that as well.

    I don’t have a decompression strategy, but have the chance to cook an elaborate long prep (often several days in bursts) meal is near the top of my list. And the kayak place will open up in 6 weeks.

    As for the lonely spouse issue, I just try to carve out sufficient alone time for me on a day to day basis. At this point in my husband’s life, I am careful what I wish for.

  67. “I guess what really bugs me is that he doesn’t want me to listen to him — he wants me to talk entertainingly of many things, and some days I don’t have anything entertaining to say.”

    Understand. That runs both ways in our house, depending.

  68. “Does anyone else crave being Home Alone?”

    Oh yeah!

    Honestly, at this point it’s pretty good even when just DH is out of town — as long as it’s not a busy night with kid events and stuff, I just turn off the mommy guilt switch, turn the kids loose on Netflix/PS4, and have them heat themselves up the special can of spaghettios that is reserved for such events. Then I close the doors to the family room and turn on/open up whatever the heck I want. If I am feeling super magnanimous, I may even invite them to watch something with me. Older kids totally don’t suck. :-)

    This makes me realize that one benefit(?) of being a somewhat-socially-oblivious introvert is that I have always been better than most at taking downtime for myself when I need it. It just sort of never occurred to me — or I just didn’t care enough — that I was violating the Good Mommy rules, you know?

  69. You people are not making marriage sound very attractive! Atlanta’s dream weekend sounds reasonable to me, if she forces herself to sit through a movie she doesn’t like.

  70. Marriage is awesome. DH is an extrovert and I am an introvert. Sometimes I love it when he engages me and he pushes me to be more active than I would normally be. But as others have mentioned, I do enjoy it when he’s out of town. The house stays cleaner. : )

  71. You people are not making marriage sound very attractive!

    There are pros and cons to everything. I’ve been married almost 25 years now. He can be a huge help, especially when the chips are down. He always has my back. But I made a number of career sacrifices, and a lot of sacrifices about where to live, what interests to pursue, etc. If I had never married, I’m sure I’d be lonely sometimes and I’d wonder what I was missing. I think human existence always includes some wondering about paths not taken, about whether the loneliness of being single is compensated by freedom of choice, and so on. You have to know who you are, and unfortunately, most of us don’t know who we are until we’re middle-aged. Well, I didn’t, anyway. I am happy I’m married to my specific husband, but I certainly wouldn’t get married again to just anybody, or possibly anybody at all.

  72. LfB — your comment on violating the Good Mommy rules reminded me of something in an article I read a few years ago, which I’ve just retrieved via Google. It was an Atlantic one by Sandra Tsing Loh from 2011 speculating that the Good Mommy rules aren’t so much a normal state as a relatively temporary insanity that recedes when approaching menopause. The lamb leg thing she’s referring to is an anecdote from earlier in the article.

    IT’S INTRIGUING TO ponder this suggested reversal of what has traditionally been thought to be the woman’s hormonal cloud. A sudden influx of hormones is not what causes 50-year-old Aunt Carol to throw the leg of lamb out the window. Improperly balanced hormones were probably the culprit. Fertility’s amped-up reproductive hormones helped Aunt Carol 30 years ago to begin her mysterious automatic weekly ritual of roasting lamb just so and laying out 12 settings of silverware with an OCD-like attention to detail while cheerfully washing and folding and ironing the family laundry. No normal person would do that—look at the rest of the family: they are reading the paper and lazing about like rational, sensible people. And now that Aunt Carol’s hormonal cloud is finally wearing off, it’s not a tragedy, or an abnormality, or her going crazy—it just means she can rejoin the rest of the human race: she can be the same selfish, non-nurturing, non-bonding type of person everyone else is. (And so what if get-well casseroles won’t get baked, PTAs will collapse, and in-laws will go for decades without being sent a single greeting card? Paging Aunt Carol! The old Aunt Carol!)

    I don’t entirely agree about the menopause connection, as there seem to be plenty of post-menopausal women who still are very interested in tending to the household. But I thought that it was an interesting idea, that it’s the nesting type behavior that’s the aberration and prioritizing time for self is a return to normal.

  73. In the summer I’m more amenable to hanging out and staying up late, but during the school year DH and I have different schedules. I get up earlier to get the kids to school and Dh tends to work late (or watch a lot of tv) and sleep in. I’m not a big tv person and don’t consider it relaxing, but DH loves it and that’s what he does to unwind. I’ve had similar conversations with mom friends so maybe it’s just the stage we are in.

  74. Rocky, maybe it’s just the tendency to comment on negatives more than positives that I’m noticing.

    HM, interesting, but doesn’t nesting behavior correspond to having peeps/chicks/fledglings in the nest?

  75. @HM: I think I love Aunt Carol.

    @SM: I think you see only half of it here. We are sort of the anti-FB crowd — no one brags about the awesomeness of their life because that’s just Not Done. Plus, you know, I have DH to share his awesomeness with, but if I want to keep that going, I need to find other outlets for my DH-you’re-not-so-awesome rants. :-)

    But it’s also not even good or bad, it’s just being one part of you. I think everyone has a whole huge number of sides, of preferences and dislikes and ways of being in the world. And when you are with another person, you both tend to gravitate toward the things you both like, and then each of you makes an effort to appreciate the things the other likes that you really don’t get (or at least gives the other the space to do on their own). But there are always parts of yourself that get put aside, because there are only 24 hours in a day and only so much you can do at one time. So when that person is around all the time, you can love them and not want to trade them for anything, but still occasionally be annoyed at not getting enough of the “other” parts of you, or at getting too much of the things they like but you tolerate. And when that person goes away for a while, you can miss them and be sad they’re gone, but still have this sudden surge of relief and freedom that you can do all that other stuff that goes by the wayside in your normal shared life. Like, you know, Spaghetti-Os.

    And sometimes they’re two sides of the same coin. Like Rocky said, part of the reason I love DH is because he is more extroverted than me and takes joy in getting things done, and so he pulls me out of myself and forces me to engage more in life. That is truly one of the best things about him. But sometimes I need to pull back into my shell, and that same “let’s get out there!” attitude is exactly what I don’t need (or feel like dealing with). It’s all about finding the balance that makes both of you mostly happy most of the time.

  76. HM, maybe they just get tired of it. I am less than enthusiastic about cooking and cleaning than ever. Just tired of it.

  77. Laura, you and Rocky are both so sweet, going into caring detail in response to a basically flip remark from me <3 I'm sure there is some truth to the advertising that marriage gets. The things that honestly would be hard for me are the expectation that I'd do more housework & he'd do less. That's just not happening. And the gendered division of cooking that I mentioned above has not held true in any of my relationships, so I doubt I'd start now. As far as my own time, I'm perfectly happy going out to eat or for a hike or whatever on my own, or with son/without romantic partner, but when I was in a relationship, I tended to go a bit overboard (that's a big part of why I didn't date when my son was little) and if anyone needed space, it was him. I suspect that has changed over the last 14+ years, but haven't checked it out.

  78. The idea that cleaning clutter is relaxing is easy to understand – for me. DH cannot fathom why I would spend a Saturday morning paying bills and scraping the crud from the countertops and find that relaxing. I find it hard to go for a run to “relax” when the countertops are a tactile landmine.

    Two things that people don’t discuss with young couples is how much owning a home will change your life, and to check for compatibility re: free time.

  79. Scarlett – Yes, it was essential to me for the best “alone time” that DH took the kids away camping – that was the best! Two days of no work and responsibility for anyone but myself (plus the dog). I had a wonderful time, and was thrilled when they came back. I would not have wanted to come back to a messy house, which is what would happen when I went away, and I could fit in little household projects during the weekend.

  80. I love to go buy gifts or some “treat” items that I need. I find this relaxing. Things like grocery shopping and any “must do” shopping is not relaxing. I prefer to go by myself, though these days DD accompanies me.
    I also like talking to/hanging out with other parents when I am killing time at my kids activities.
    I also like walking in my neighborhood. Most times of year, it is very pretty.
    I try to keep up with the household chores daily. I hate to be stuck cleaning up/organizing a huge amount all at once.

  81. I need the space around me to be relatively in order to be able to fully relax. That said, I do not find cooking to be “relaxing” even though I enjoy it outside of the grind of putting meals on the table every day after work. I do find walking, getting together with friends (oh, how I love brunch!!), going to baseball games of the non-playoff variety, reading, and watching TV/movies to be relaxing.

    DH & I rarely spend time in different parts of the house when we are home together. We ar been actively engaged at all times though (and no Fred, I don’t mean that). But sometimes we are reading the paper separately, on our phones separately, reading, etc. We mostly watch TV together – there are some shows that each of us like more than the other, but we don’t really have our “own” shows that we watch separately.

    I do like being home alone very much, but I also like going to meet up with friends or to do something alone guilt-free.

  82. Lauren, MM, CoC – the wind that’s coming your way (or is already there) is a big deal. Schools around here are closed tomorrow due to power outages (not us), downed trees and power lines.

  83. oh, how I love brunch!!

    Brunch is one of the greatest inventions of all time. Especially brunch buffets.

  84. Fred – we have been running on generator power since yesterday morning. DH and I had to drive a short distance and it was insane – dodging branches and people’s garbage/recycling bins, etc.

    We just had a huge tree removed from our yard a few weeks ago, and the tree guys trimmed all the dead branches off the other trees. Great timing. If it for that, we might’ve spent the entire day worrying that something was going to come through the roof.

  85. Fred, I think we will miss those winds, thank goodness. We had a huge branch fall last week on our front yard (missed wires and house) and we need to have that tree inspected and trimmed. But we have snow forecast for tomorrow and highs of 28 for this weekend, which puts my outdoor plans for Sunday in jeopardy. Should I bite the bullet and go out? (I’m a wimp.) Actually, as long as the wind is calm and there’s some sun, it should not be too bad.

  86. Speaking of winds and trees, I have a question for the lawyers here. We have a fence separating our yard from our neighbors behind us. They have a tree that hangs over the fence onto our side, which is totally fine with us. There was a big wind storm the other day and some large branches from their tree fell into our yard. Is it their responsibility to clean that up? We don’t know them at all so going over there to ask them to clean it up probably be a bit awkward. It’s a fairly significant amount of branches. My guess is it would probably be about an hour’s worth of work to clean it up

  87. Denver – no idea of the legalities in your state but if it were me, I’d just send your kids out to clean it up.

  88. Haha I may have spoken too soon because the wind is picking up now and gusting.

    DD We’ve had that same situation and IIRC our neighbor offered to clean up after we approached him. But it was quite a large branch that took up about half our back yard. We had a branch fall on our neighbor’s driveway and we took care of it. We’ve trimmed a neighbor’s overhanging branches, which I believe is our right. The big branch that fell in our backyard had evidence of insect invasion, so we have not been happy with that big tree being adjacent to our back yard. Our neighbor on the other side has complained about a huge branch hanging over his house from one of his other neighbors. I don’t know whose responsibility it is to trim that.

  89. Fred, that storm stayed further north and we have a mild day with a few gusts. There was a horrible day last week with wind gusts over 50mph for a day. I couldn’t even sleep one night because the wind was so loud.

    I have meetings scheduled for tomorrow morning in the city, and now it looks like it will be a snow day. The whole forecast for the weekend looks like it should read January on the calendar instead of March.

  90. @DD – in many states, whatever hangs over on your property is yours. That means if there is fruit, you have the right to eat it; if branches fall, you have the obligation to clean it up. This approach also says that you have the right to trim back the branches to the property line to avoid damage, as long as it doesn’t damage the tree. I think if the tree actually fell, it would likely be his responsibility, but overhanging branches are much more murky.

    So, basically, I’d just go clean it up. If you are worried about future damage, I’d probably talk to him about splitting the cost of a trim in some way (or just give him a head’s up that you are going to be out there with a trimmer) — it’s sort of ridiculous the number of old cases there are that deal with stupid squabbles over things like trees that cross the property line, where you just think “why couldn’t these folks have just *talked*?”

  91. If a tree from someone else’s property falls in your yard it’s your responsibility here, unless you have sent the owner a letter that says they’re liable in the event of the tree/branches falling. We have big scary trees here and it is very hard to take trees out unless they are obviously dying, so trees fall in every single storm. We have two gigantic pine trees outside of our kids’ bedroom and I worry every time it storms, but the city won’t let us take it down unless we pay them $1,000 per tree and none of our neighbors object. One of the joys of living in the city of Atlanta.

  92. So, basically, I’d just go clean it up.

    That was my plan, I was just curious. I wouldn’t start a feud over it.

  93. We have huge trees here and when our across the street neighbor’s gigantic tree branches fell into their neighbor’s yard, the road and a big branch was lying in front of our yard, they got the tree guy to cut and clean it all up.
    I guess it depends on the size of the branches, whether you can do it yourself or it requires a professional to cut and clean it up.

  94. We aggressively trimmed our trees last year and have some cut down and stump taken out. We need the shade for the summer but have to balance that with trees falling in the severe thunderstorms we get here.

  95. DD,
    Basically, whatever lands on your property is your problem, no matter where it used to be. As you watch your kids clean it up, you can be happy that not only are they learning the joys of service, but also the burdens of owning a home. Similar exercises at our house convinced one DS that he always wants to live in an apartment in the city, which is where he happily lives now.

  96. My stepson’s house in Boston has a huuuuge tree with branches hanging right over the house. DH and I were biting our nails about it, and tried to persuade the kids to get an arborist to come out and look at it and assess the likelihood of their being crushed in the next storm.

  97. I am going on vacation soon and I wanted recommendations for shoes that will be comfortable for walking but look good.
    I need to be able to go about in them if it rains so something more closed.
    I think a few weeks ago people posted pictures…

  98. Our town has a registry for tree complaints. You can registers a notice of concern about a dead tree, or potential tree that could create a threat to your property. If the neighbor ignores, and something happens…it becomes the responsibility of the tree owner since they ignored a request to trim or remove a potential hazard.

    It’s still scary because one of my friends registered many complaints, and a giant tree of her neighbor still fell into her garage. Trees can cause people to stop speaking to their neighbors.

  99. If some of our tree branches fell in a neighbors yard we would clean them up, but are not legally obligated to do so.

    Louise – I have some “fashion sneakers” by New Balance that I wear for walking. They look cute with jeans and when I went to Savannah in January I wore them walking around the city.

  100. Thanks Atlanta – that’s what I am looking for. Fashion sneakers sounds good.

  101. Atlanta – we would, too. There’s the law, and then there’s being a good neighbor and a decent person.

    Louise – Athleta sells some cute Saucony sneakers, some of which are evidently made only for Athleta. I recently bought some and love them. Also recently bought a pair of white sneaks from They’re leather and super cute. The Sauconys are actually more comfortable though — and half the price.

  102. Louise, perhaps Ecco Chase lace-ups? I bought a pair for nearly the same reason you describe and they truly are comfortable. They’re basically “dressy” sneakers. Sperry slip ons have a decent amount of cushioning as well so that they are comfortable, and have held up remarkably well (they can be machine washed!) but may be more casual than what you are looking for.

  103. DD, since you’re planning to clean up anyway (or have your kids clean up), you might take the opportunity to let your neighbor know it happened, and suggest that, for their sake as much, or more, than yours, they might consider having the tree inspected and trimmed.

    Perhaps the best time to talk to the neighbor would be while your kids are cleaning up, so it’s clear you’re not there asking your neighbor to do the cleanup, but it’s still clear that the branches did fall in from their tree into your yard.

  104. Would those Saucony or New Balance work as workout shoes as well? I need shoes that can do double duty so that I dont have to carry too many shoes on a vacation.

  105. Louise, I was at the mall this weekend and saw some tennis shoes by Ellen Degeneres. I have no idea if they are comfortable, but I thought they were really cute for casualwear when you wanted to be comfortable

  106. “Would those Saucony or New Balance work as workout shoes as well? I need shoes that can do double duty so that I dont have to carry too many shoes on a vacation.”

    @Dell – They’d be fine for a light workout – like a spin class, lifting weights or using the elliptical trainer in a hotel gym, but I personally wouldn’t run in them. They aren’t as supportive/cushioned as full-blown running shoes. (I usually run in Nike Pegasus shoes.) But I have injury issues with running, so I am picky about shoes for that.

  107. Thanks Ivy! I dont usually run at all. I would do an elliptical or bike. So looks like they would be fine enough to do that for a few days. I like those shoes for touristy walking around more than just flats.

  108. I own Saucony Originals Bullet that are very similar to the style in Ivy’s link. I love them, particularly because they are somehow petite and not clunky at all.

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