Family life

How long weekends have changed after kids

Celebrating the Victoria Day long weekend is a lot different for this mom now that she has kids.

JEN

Photo: Jennifer Pinarski

Before we had children, my husband and I did a lot camping. The May long weekend saw us driving for hours to either Western Manitoba or Northwestern Ontario to find the most secluded campgrounds so that we could avoid the urban ones close to our home in Winnipeg. It was the way that we kicked off summer eight years ago, but not so much now that we have kids.

Here are some examples of how our long weekends have changed over the years:

Before kids
Reserve favourite campground months in advance. It didn’t matter if snow, sleet or rain were in the forecast! You were a hardy outdoorsman! Sunshine is for sissies!
After kids
Don’t reserve the campsite and take your chances that a campsite will be available last minute. Monitor the weather forecast on three different apps and websites and spell the word C-A-M-P-I-N-G in another language in case you need to cancel because snow is in the forecast.

Before kids
Pack one change of clothes for the entire weekend.
After kids
Each child insists on packing their own wheeled suitcase of weather inappropriate shorts/princess dresses/ballet tutus but neglects to pack underwear. Come to terms with the fact that you may have to rummage through the Lost and Found at the park to find underwear or find a 24-hour drugstore to buy new ones.

Before kids
You pack your cooler with ice, bacon, worms, JiffyPop and beer—all bought at the gas station on the drive to your campground.
After kids
Grocery shopping is completed the week before, with food prepared and packed according to an agreed upon meal plan that satisfies every picky eater in your family.

Read more: Camping food: 13 delicious recipes >

Before kids
State-of-the-art pup tent built for two pitched in the backwoods.
After kids
Dora the Explorer tent pitched in the backyard—or basement if it’s raining…

Before kids
A bag of marshmallows for s’mores bought in May lasts the whole season—you can really only stomach one or two. Besides, you’re watching your weight.
After kids
Three bags of marshmallows are needed for the weekend because the first bag accidentally gets forgotten at home, the second bag is a trial run for perfecting your marshmallow roasting technique and most of them get burned and the third one is to eat after the kids go to bed—along with the chocolate bar you stashed in the glove box that you said you’d “forgotten” at home with the marshmallows.

Read more: 5 ways to make s’mores >

Before kids
Worry that you brought enough fire crackers.
After kids
Worry that you brought enough toilet paper.

Although it’s been several years since my husband and I have gone camping—having given away all of our gear after a particularly horrible trip—we’re slowly warming up to the idea of camping again. Just maybe not this weekend.

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children. Read more Run-at-home mom posts or follow her @JenPinarski.