Making the most of 104 precious days of the year
No matter how you feel about your job, most of us look forward to enjoying our days off on the weekend. But how often do you wake up on Monday morning wondering where your weekend went? Or do you wake up exhausted from trying to cram in too much into the two days?
I ask both of these questions from personal experience. Some weekends disappeared in an instant in a whirlwind of chores and errands. Other weekends, I enjoyed myself but wore myself out or didn’t get anything else done. Or I felt like I had never left the office by bringing work home. Once I became a parent, I spent entire weekends at kid’s birthday parties, sporting events or classes.
Before I could improve my weekends, I had to be honest with myself about what was not working. I also had to imagine my ideal weekend. When someone asked me, “what are you doing this weekend?”, I wanted to have an answer and look forward to my weekend.
Raise your right hand and repeat after me: “I will no longer waste my precious downtime. I will take a few minutes to plan my weekend with intention.”
If we do, our weekends will no longer fly by out of our control. We will feel rested, rejuvenated and ready to face the week on Monday morning.
How do you want to feel at the end of this weekend?
So here’s what I do…I ask myself “How do I want to feel during the weekend? How do I want to feel at the end of this weekend?” Then, I figure out what activities will help me to feel this way.
As I think about activities, I mentally go through a list of my key life areas.
Who do I want to reconnect with this weekend? Will I do this in person or in another way? What do I want to do together? How will I feel fully present with family and friends? When? Is there anyone I need to call? When my plans involve others, I schedule it to make sure that it happens. If I do only this step in planning my weekend, I am ahead of the game.
How will I rest and recharge my batteries? I pride myself on getting enough sleep most nights. But I still often crave extra rest and rejuvenation on the weekend. When I plan my weekend schedule, I try to make sure that I plan for enough sleep each night.
How can I meet the needs of everyone in my family this weekend?
Sometimes the person that I need to reconnect with is myself! How can I take care of my body? Do I want to be creative or celebrate creativity in any way? How will I fill my spirit?
How will I nourish myself this weekend and make sure that I and those around me don’t get “hangry”? Are there any meals to cook or restaurants to try out?
What needs to happen around the house? Are there any not-fun activities that I can delegate, or off-load to someone else?
Anchor and extend your weekend
I try not to go overboard when planning my weekend. From author Laura Vanderkam, I learned to schedule three to five fun activities, or anchor events, for the weekend. This way, I have fun events to anticipate, but I don’t feel overscheduled.
When I plan my activities, I try to extend my weekend. I do this by having something on Friday night and also on Sunday afternoon or evening. In doing so, my weekend feels longer. Sunday activities are also a great way to distract yourself if you get the Sunday night blues.
One way to make scheduling time with friends and loved ones easier is to make it automatic. There is a reason that the family Sunday night meal was a tradition for a long time. At various times in my life, I have had standing book club meetings or happy hours with friends. Now, I speak to my parents by phone every Sunday afternoon or evening.
Stop it! What am I going to stop doing that is sabotaging my weekends?
I love stop doing lists! I find them as helpful and essential as to-do lists. When I plan my weekend, I also think about what I will not do over the weekend.
Some weekends, it means not trying to squeeze in extra loads of laundry or another errand. Other times, I have to stop talking about, thinking about or doing work. One of the biggest things I try to avoid on the weekend is spending time at the computer or on my smartphone. I don’t do an official digital detox, but I do try to spend less time on devices.
Do I need to create rules for myself to make sure I feel the way I want to feel? For example, if I pick up my phone when spending time with family or friends, I will turn it off to remove the distraction. Or, I will start watching the movie at 8 pm to make sure that I stop staying up too late.
What did my weekend look like?
Here is an example of a weekend last month. On Friday night, I spent a cozy night on the couch with my husband and son watching the movie, Wonder. While watching, we ate takeout Burgerville burgers and fish and chips. If you haven’t seen this movie, make sure you have tissues handy! My son got to choose the meal as we were celebrating one of his major achievements.
I made sure we all got to bed at a reasonable hour as we had a busy Saturday planned. Plus, knowing we had a busy weekend coming up, I tried to sneak in some extra household chores and errands during the week so that I could enjoy the weekend.
On Saturday morning, I slept in trying to recover from a cold. My early rising husband supervised my son on a homework project. After breakfast, I snuck in a yoga practice with my husband while my son played at the park. For lunch, I ate chicken noodle soup for my cold before heading out to cheer on my son at a basketball game. I came prepared with snacks and a thermos of honey lemon tea. In the evening, I had to skip my son’s second basketball game of a tournament to head to my tennis team match. If you are wondering, I lost 7–6, 5–7, 8–10 in a two-hour nail-biter of a match.
Sunday was the second day of the basketball tournament. As an introvert, I made sure to have a quiet morning to save my energy to cheer on my son as I can get depleted in a loud gymnasium. I watched CBS Sunday morning on TV while making my weekly batch of steel cut oats. My husband and I had another brief yoga practice before heading to my son’s 11 am game. In between games, I found a quiet hallway to read my book. After spending the afternoon as a basketball mom, I spoke to my parents by phone in our weekly chat. In the evening, I had another tennis team match. Before going to bed, I spent a few moments reflecting on the past week and planning the week ahead.
Kelsey Cleveland is a Desire Map facilitator who helps women in transition figure out how to set goals based on how they really want to feel. She is also a freelance writer who writes articles, essays and blog posts and is working on a book-length memoir.
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