Family Guilt Trips

OK, technically our topic this week is “Family Outings” but isn’t “Family Guilt Trips” more accurate?

Join me for our most recent guilt trip (I mean outing) en famille

Point of Departure: I’m a Sucky Parent

This past Sunday at one point mid-morning each one of us was sitting in front of a different screen (the girl in front of the TV watching Bubble Guppies, the boy on his 3DS playing Pokemon something-or-other, Luc on his office computer shooting tanks, and me on the laptop reading blogs).

This is usually where our guilt trips start. I look around, don’t like what I see, decide I’m a sucky parent and insist that we unplug and do something FUN. As a FAMILY. Something that doesn’t involve a SCREEN. (So no, my darlings, we will not be going to the theatre to see The Croods on this beautiful, sunny Sunday. Even if it is as a family. Nice try, though.)

I spend a lot of time in I’m a Sucky Parent. So much so that I’m no longer a tourist there, I’m a permanent resident.

The Itinerary: Get the Hell Out of the House

As mentioned, it’s a beautiful, sunny Sunday. The skies are a stunning shade of blue, there’s not a cloud to be seen and the breeze is brisk. It’s gorgeous out.

Did I mention I don’t like the great outdoors? Nope, not even on a beautiful, sunny, brisk spring Sunday. I have absolutely no inclination to change out of my comfy PJs, put on my sneakers and leave my laptop and my coffee behind to go biking or hiking or whatever it is those non-sucky parents do with their kids. But I feel bad that my children are missing out on family time, that they’re growing up to have no appreciation for nature, and that they’re turning into socially inept techno-dependant couch potatoes with really dry eyes and carpal tunnel syndrome.

These guilt trips have so many layers…kinda like an onion (thank you, Donkey). Kinda stinks like an onion too. So off we go to blow the stink off us.

Destination: Somewhere Remote Enough That It’s Interesting But Close Enough So We Can Be Home in Time for Lunch

We’re lucky…we’re surrounded by nature here in Ottawa. We’ve got rivers, waterfalls, forests, trails, parks and more. But because we’ve wasted most of our morning (GUILT! We should have started out earlier!) we need to pick someplace close by. Luckily Mer Bleue Bog is a short drive away (GUILT! We shouldn’t be taking the car!) And although it would be fun to add a lunch out to our outing, the kids would choose McDonald’s, where they just went with Grand-maman and Grand-papa last week (GUILT!) and I just spent a ridiculous amount of money on groceries (GUILT!) so we can’t very well let all of that good-for-us food go to waste (GUILT! GUILT! GUILT!)

It’s a bumpy take-off. But we make it.

Sightseeing: A Whole Lot of Really Spectacular Nothing

Last week our beautiful city was still covered in snow. Not a lot has happened spring-wise since then. OK, the robins are back, but apparently they’re not hanging out at the bog. Neither are the beavers, deer, foxes, coyotes or raccoons the interpretive panels would have you believe. Not even a frog, a turtle, or a dragon-fly to be seen.

But the kids found it…FASCINATING!


Look! Over here! There’s still a thin layer of ice on the water!


Look! Over there! That clump of grass is drifting in the wind!


Cool! The boardwalk is flooded in that part!

Awesome! Check out the beaver dam!

Awesome! Check out the beaver dam!

Wow! A tree!

Wow! A tree!

The Return Home: Where to Next?

OK, so it was guilt that kicked us in the butt, got us out of the house and had us doing something as a family. No, it didn’t come naturally (so to speak) and it wasn’t anything extraordinary, but it ended up being a great outing. Who knew a 45-minute walk around a bog could be so much fun?

Maybe next Sunday we’ll head out a little earlier and go somewhere a little further away for a little longer. Maybe this will become a habit. Maybe I’ll finally be able to hand in my passport to I’m a Sucky Parent.

Who am I kidding. I’ll always at least retain dual citizenship. If I gave it up, I’d feel guilty.


Our beautiful, sunny, brisk spring Sunday. Aaah.

Check out Luc’s thoughts on family outings.


5 thoughts on “Family Guilt Trips

  1. […] a look a what Jen had to say about family […]

  2. Trish says:

    It’s like you’re living our life, and writing about it! This is literally every weekend in our house. RIght down to me forcing everyone to the Bog. Love you and this, and we can be next-door neighbours in I’m a Sucky Parent and drink together while our kids meld into the couch. xo

  3. I feel guilty when we stay home on the weekends, too. Especially when I end up doing a bunch of chores which makes me feel like I’m neglecting the family. Getting out of the house is a great way to be forced to be present. And like you said, it’s great to take advantage of the weather before it gets too hot!

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