Every year, at some point during the summer, my husband takes the kids away for a camping weekend. It’s a tradition that stretches right back to 2005, just before my eldest started school. They meet up with my husband’s old friend and go camping with all of the kids – they have three each, ranging in age from 10 to 18 (although the 18 year old has opted out of the last couple of trips). It used to literally be a night’s camping, but now they go away for two nights and always climb a mountain while they’re away, usually Snowdon. For my daughter and her friend especially, the camping weekend is one of the highlights of the year.
And me? I’m home alone.
I should ‘make the most of it’, I know. I should arrange to meet up with people and go out somewhere, but I never do. In a way, I quite like the peace and just being on own. But I do spend a lot of time worrying. I worry right until the moment they leave. Mainly I worry about them having an accident. It’s pretty much the only time my husband goes anywhere with all three kids and without me. My husband is a very good driver, I know that. But not everyone is a very good driver. A brief lapse in concentration on the motorway and my whole life could be wiped out in one go.
I feel sad as they disappear up the road and then I switch modes into some sort of superwoman. I know what I need to do (clean) and I know what I want to do (read) and I need to maximise my time.
As soon as they leave, I go for a walk. I go for a lot of walks even when they are around. Then I set myself targets – get the hoovering done, then cook and eat. Then I can read for half an hour before doing the mopping. Then I can go for another walk before doing some more reading.
I plan pretty much every minute of my time – running, grass cutting, blogging, reading, walking… I plan to go to bed earlier than usual, but it doesn’t often happen, because I’m so ‘busy’ reading and cleaning.
I hate cleaning. I hate it with a passion. There’s no rule that says I have to clean while they’re away, but it makes sense. There’s nobody getting under my feet. There’s nobody messing it up again before it’s even finished. And cleaning keeps me busy and helps me take my mind off the fact that I’m on my own in the house all weekend. So I do a better job of cleaning than usual. I dust and deal with cobwebs. I mop floors. The house definitely looks a lot better when they get home than when they set off.
In this way, the time goes remarkably quickly. I do find myself worrying from time to time. I look forward to texts and especially photos. I find myself wondering if they’ve had breakfast or if they’ve made it to the top of the mountain. Then I worry again about the drive home.
And, before I know it, they’re back. The time has flown and I haven’t read anywhere near as much as I’d hoped to. My clean house is hidden under a layer of dirty camping stuff. I may not have ‘made the most of it’ by going out, but I’ve made the most of it in my own way. I’ve had some peace and a little bit of time to unwind, whilst also being superwoman with the mop.
And the camping weekend is over for another year.