We’re now four weekends into this little adventure, and I think we’re starting to get the schedule down. Here’s what it looks like:
- Pack up on Thursday night
- Addy gets out of school on Friday at 3pm. Pick her up and GO
- Arrive around 6pm Friday
- Enjoy the weekend
- Early dinner Sunday around 4 or 5pm
- Kids in their pajamas
- Leave around 5p, home at 7-730p, hopefully the kids are asleep
We’ve been trying to vary this slightly to figure out what works best. I vastly prefer to leave straight from work, as it’s just over 2 hours flat and I avoid a lot of traffic (and the drive home). Maureen vastly prefers that I come home because otherwise she has to drive all three kids down herself (which I totally get by the way!)
Right now it’s off season, so the traffic load is much lower and when we leave on Sunday isn’t as important. We’ve tried earlier - around 2 or 3pm - and it works fine, although we did hit some Bay Bridge traffic. Leaving around 5 seems like a really good time. It’s late enough that you feel like you got another full day there, but early enough that you have time at home to get settled for the week ahead. It’s also perfect for the kids to fall asleep on the way home.
A lot of people think a schedule like this is hard to keep, but it hasn’t been at all. We’ve been averaging about 2.5 hours one way between houses (a little longer on the way to DE, a little shorter on the way back). That’s short enough that the kids are fine in the car the whole time. We don’t rely on movies or iPads in the car, so they’re busy talking, singing, reading, drawing, or sleeping.
The times we’re doing the drive align really well with our normal schedule too. Quite naturally, Friday afternoon from about 3-6 is a decompression time for most people after a busy week. And a pleasant drive through the country to the shore is a great way to decompress. Similarly, Sunday afternoon/evening is a time to relax and mentally prepare for the week ahead. It takes a bit more prep this way, but we’ve been able to make this work too. Neither of us feel exhausted, like we’re burning the candle at both ends. It kind of just fits into the schedule. And the same is true so far for the kids. We’re paying a lot of attention to how they handle it, to see if we need to change anything.
Every weekend so far has been full of lists. Like any new house, we’ve got a lot to clean up, learn and buy. The house came mostly furnished, which was a massive leg up on getting settled and keeping initial costs down. Some of the furniture is pretty old and not our style at all, but gift horses and all that. We’ve been picking up used pieces we like at home and bringing them down slowly, and Maureen has become a re-use magician. She got slipcovers for a pair of the ugliest couches I’ve ever seen so that we can use them. She’s done some chalk paint on our older furniture and turned it into awesome beach furniture.
The focus of the first weekend was really just settling in. We tried to learn all the light switches (there’s a lot), the fans, and the ‘feel’ of the house. We didn’t do much that weekend except clean, get internet installed (priorities..), and start rearranging. Amazingly, within a couple of nights in, the house felt like home. I think we both believed it would take a few weeks or months, especially since we only go down on the weekends right now.
Since then, we’ve done quite a bit. We made our first big purchase - a new mattress - and that was pretty key. There was an end-of-season 50% off sale in town, which made the decision easier. Having a good mattress makes such a big difference. How else could you feel at home?
We put up a flag on the front of the house, because it’s not home until you’re rocking the Stars and Stripes. The flag was a Bethany Beach craft fair find. It’s a piece of painted driftwood and it looks pretty awesome.
What else? We’ve cleaned up the yard, taken down some tree limbs, cleaned, rescreened two doors, rearranged furniture about ten times, cleaned, moved a porch swing, and cleaned. And the lists (and cleaning) keep on coming. But somehow it’s still relaxing. There’s always something to do, but the pace and the urgency of it just isn’t the same as in DC.
I think that difference in pace is going to be a big theme going forward. So far it’s definitely one of the big differences we’ve noticed.