Labor Day for Parents: The Holiday That Isn’t

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Image via Tracy Jensen

Each September, we all clamor for our three-day weekend that accompanies Labor Day. The holiday is meant to celebrate the American worker and provide some time off.

For parents, especially with young children at home, time off rarely exists. What does a “holiday” weekend in my house look like?

Friday, I worked a full day because I know I am going to need every speck of vacation time to cover my daughter’s holiday break from school in a few months. I spent the evening grocery shopping and doing laundry, preparing for Saturday.

Saturday, I took the kids camping. That meant several hours of prep, from creating an extensive packing list (do not forget the loveys … again!), pulling gear out of storage, prepping food for the cooler, and packing up the car utilizing every inch of space.

We had a wonderful time camping for less than twenty-four hours, then came home so I could unload the car, lay all of the wet gear across the yard to dry only to discover later that it mostly dried but not quite. This meant dragging the tent and rainfly down to the basement to spread out as I flip it every few hours. And, of course, I have done more laundry to remove the twelve layers of DEET from our clothes.

While the laundry was running, I decided to scale back my yard work endeavors to only remove weeds that were taller than me. Sadly, there were plenty from which I could choose. 

{ MORE: 14 Tweets That Sum up Parenting in Winter so Perfectly It Hurts }

Sunday brought a carnival. The kids whined in the heat the entire walk over, then spent my entire paycheck on poorly maintained rides in about 3 minutes. After baking on the concrete and stealthily throwing out the horrifyingly loud plastic trumpets they “won,” we enjoyed fresh-squeezed lemonade until Austin spilled ¾ of his on the sidewalk and sobbed. It was hot outside – I could understand the devastation.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home to get fixings for some homemade mac and cheese with bacon at my daughter’s request. I cooked dinner while prepping some other freezer items for the work week ahead, using every dish and spilling bacon grease across my stove. As I cleaned up, Austin spit his dinner back out onto his plate, declaring it to be disgusting, and ate applesauce for dinner.

Sunday night, I had a glass of wine and played on Facebook.

Today, we are heading into the city for the beach, our last official “summer” adventure. I have swimsuits and water bottles packed, and I will chop veggies and cheese for our picnic. We will hope the weather holds for the morning, then head home. There will be backpacks to prep, school lunches and snacks to plan, and soccer gear to dig out of the closet.

When I get to work on Tuesday, I will chuckle a bit as we all chat about how nice it was to have time off. It’s been a wonderful weekend, full of snuggles and laughter, and a much-needed break for my kids. I wouldn't change the chaos for a minute.

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I feel relaxed, but rested will have to wait for another year! 

{ MORE: How I Learned to Single Task }

Can you relate? What do you do on your “time off”?

What do you think?

Labor Day for Parents: The Holiday That Isn’t

Tracy Jensen is a writer, marketer, mother, fundraiser, marathoner, and music lover. A working, single mom of two kids ages six and five, she is notorious for doing things the hard way. In addition to writing for EverydayFamily, she survives suburban exile by blogging about life’s foibles at It Builds Character. She can be found at night ignoring the dishes and playing on Twitter. ... More

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