Nine years ago, I bought a cottage with my siblings. For all of those years, I have enjoyed it thoroughly. OK, I’m kind of lying – for all those years, all it represented to me was a lot of hard work. Bringing babies and toddlers to a cottage is challenging – it’s all of the work of home, without any of the conveniences. Kids in strange beds, no safety guards around the lake and – in our case – no electricity. You can imagine how stressful it is when you have a bed-wetter or a puke fest ensues and there is no washing machine in sight.
The odd weekend at the cottage was manageable but I secretly dreaded our one full week there each summer. Probably the most stressful time during the week was the last day of our holiday. Conducting a thorough cottage clean up in preparation for the next family seemed impossible. If it happened to be raining, the stress of cleaning the cottage seemed overwhelming, with kids getting underfoot, wanting attention and messing up the newly cleaned areas.
This year, something miraculous has happened. My kids have grown up. I have no one in diapers, a collection of incredibly strong swimmers and my youngest now just runs with the pack. I sat on a Muskoka chair while the kids and their cottage friends played elaborate games or Manhunt, went frog hunting and searched for critters in the forest
My older kids noted that they saw me do a lot of things for the first time, like fishing. I was shocked to realize they had never seen me fish. Every other year I was so bogged down with babies and care-giving – who had time to fish?
As for the cottage clean up – some kids tidied the beach, one washed the dishes, some packed up the sleeping bags and helped change bed sheets and one mopped the floor. What a long way we have come. A stress-free cottage clean up is a new experience for me.
Although many people say “bigger kids, bigger problems”, I feel qualified to say that it does, in fact, get easier. For some of us, it just takes more than a decade to get there. What was the turning point in your family when you suddenly realized you didn’t have babies anymore? Or, are you still in the thick of it and feel like the day will never come?