Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekend Mornings: Sweet Reprieve

Breakfast on the patio when the sun shines
When we lived in the US, weekends with four active athletes were often busier than the school/work week. My kids played different sports every season. Lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, swim, basketball, and cheer leading seemed to rule our weekend schedules, depending on the time of year. Usually my husband and I had to split up and work out carpooling to make sure that everyone got where they needed to be. During the summers, swim meets for all the kids started around 6am every Saturday and ran well past noon. In recent years, one daughter played with a competitive lacrosse club that required us to be out of town overnight at 2- and 3-day tournaments in June and July. Another daughter trained with the USA field hockey association in the spring and with a club in the Baltimore area during the winter, so likewise was frequently traveling out of town for long weekends of sports. Both boys played soccer in the fall and spring and all the kids played winter basketball. We were always on the run!

So one of the things I love about our new life is that weekends are free! Most weekends, we have NOTHING planned. And we've gotten into a wonderful routine of leisurely family breakfasts every Saturday and Sunday morning. My 13-year old son, who does most of the complaining about life in Germany, gets up voluntarily each weekend morning and rides his bike to the local bakery to buy the breakfast rolls (Brötchen). Sometimes, he even insists on using his own pocket money to treat the family! When he gets home, the table is set with a variety of fruit jams, cheeses, meats, and, of course, Nutella. Tea and Coffee are cooked, and we all sit down, often with candles and flowers, and enjoy loud conversation, sibling teasing, and yummy food.

One of the first times we sat down for breakfast like this, we assumed the older teenage girls wanted to sleep in, and did not wake them when the table was ready. There was hell to pay for that when they got up and found us sitting around breakfast without them. I was quickly informed that even my not-at-all-a morning-person 15-year old daughter did not want to miss out on eating with the family. Wow. On weekends she tries really hard to put her typical morning grouchiness away and to be pleasant at breakfast. It's been a wonderful treat to have this time together and to know that the kids all want to be part of it. It's a perfect way to de-stress from our challenging weeks.

The kids still play sports, and today my oldest had a lacrosse tournament in Frankfurt (2 hours away), but she didn't need to leave until 10:30 - a perfectly decent time to get moving on a Sunday. Both girls play lacrosse, one son runs track, and another plays soccer. But sports here are just not as intense as they were in the US. Instead of training five days a week (as they did in high school), they usually only train twice a week and games or races are not every week. There are, of course, athletes in Germany who train much more frequently, but that just doesn't seem to be the norm for young athletes as much as it was in the US.

After our casual breakfasts, the day is often still open for family activities, like walking, biking, and kayaking. If it's a Sunday, you can forget shopping, since the stores are all closed. So we tend to relax a lot more. We get household chores done, then go outside when the weather allows, or read books or play games inside.  It's a completely different pace of life here and one of the things I really appreciate about Germany. As the weather improves over the next few months, I'm looking forward to weekend excursions to Belgium and the Netherlands, which are both a short drive away. And I'm already scanning the local festival calendar for other great things we can do in North Rhine Westphalia during the weekends in spring and summer. After Breakfast :)

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you enjoy a more leisurely weekend in Germany. As a Dutchie married to an American and having lived in the US during our kids' teenage years, I know exactly the kind of weekends families with highschool kids "enjoy."

    I love the south of Europe - France, Italy, Spain, where people take time with their meals and enjoy the company around the table. Also, the sidewalk cafe culture is one I really missed in the US.

    I hope you'll enjoy the Netherlands ;)

    PS: Why can't I sign in with my URL / name?