As two parents working traditional 9-5 schedules, weekends are EVERYTHING for my husband and me. It’s our time to be together as a family, get things done, decompress from the week, and prepare for another round of craziness. The Friday feeling is real. I absolutely LOVE Fridays (#basic) and often find myself borderline giddy on Friday afternoons, bursting at the seams with weekend hype. The next two days lay before me like a blank canvas ready to be filled with adventures, family bonding, and rest. But then, of course, reality hits. And many times, my grand plans come crashing to the ground.
I’ve recently become a little more conscious of how we spend our weekend time. I’m a chronic overbooker, and my husband often laments my tendency to book 4-5 social commitments for our family in a single weekend. What can I say? I like to see people and have fun experiences. And as much as I love feeding my extroversion, I have noticed the quality of my Monday morning is drastically affected by how I spent my weekend. Sometimes I find myself floating into the office feeling rested, energized, prepared, and happy. My weekend was satisfying and memorable. Other times (let’s be honest, most of the time), I’m stumbling into work feeling tired, resentful, anxious, and bitter. I feel duped at the dinkiness of my ultimately disappointing weekend. Remember that fabulous Friday feeling? “You were so naive,” I think to myself, eyes narrowed and scary-looking. Those highly-coveted weekend days feel flimsy and unsubstantial, gone in a flash, and that makes me angry. I feel both aggravated and numb. It’s no good. And it certainly doesn’t start the week on a positive note.
I came across an article on how to maximize the weekend to make it feel as long as possible. It turns out that doing something new/having novel experiences is the key to maximizing the weekend and making it feel memorable. With this tip in mind, I thought I would create a list of the components for my own optimal weekend.
- Something “juicy.” Juiciness is tough to describe, but many things can fall into this category for me. It’s all about treating myself and having something to look forward to. My juiciness could be something truly exciting like date night to a fancy restaurant or attending a fun concert, but more often, it’s something simple like digging into a new binge-worthy show with my husband, trying a new recipe for dinner, loading my Kindle with a book I’ve been dying to read, or picking up a bottle of my favorite wine for no reason.
- A balance of family time and me time. I crave lots of time with my daughter on the weekend. We take long walks, go to the playground, enjoy leisurely breakfasts together, and spend many hours sitting on the floor playing. I often start Saturday mornings by throwing on a favorite album and having a family dance party. It’s so nice to be unhurried, to lounge around in our pajamas together for an hour or two. My life can feel rushed and packed to the gills at times (and admittedly, I encourage that pace), so this glorious family nothingness is such a refreshing treat. That said, I also need a break from my family. I need an hour to write, watch TV with the bedroom door closed, take a bath, or grab brunch with girlfriends.
- A nap. I have come to realize that I need at least one nap per weekend. On either Saturday or Sunday mornings, I need to go back to bed for a couple hours to catch up on the rest I miss during the week staying up to watch a TV show with my husband. I’ve written before about my love of naps and tips for making them even more epic.
- Exercise. Whether it’s a solo run or a family hike, I need to get my blood pumping and break a sweat at least once during the weekend. Endorphins make you happy! (s/o to my Legally Blonde fans)
- Productivity. Grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, meal planning: I don’t rock every category every single weekend. I often push myself to do just a little more than I feel capable of doing. I’ll take ten minutes to clean the bathroom before showering or throw in a load of laundry before making breakfast. My husband and I rarely complete every single chore on our list, but making a little progress is essential for keeping Manic Mondays in check. Also, research shows that doing chores actually increases happiness, even if it feels like a drag at the time.
- Seeing family and friends. I often feel anxiety at how long it’s been since we’ve seen family members and friends. Planning a couple manageable get-togethers per weekend helps me feel connected to the people I love.
- A family adventure. This is a recent tradition my husband and I have started, and it speaks to the advice listed in the article about maximizing weekends. We like to have one new experience as a family every single weekend. Whether it’s exploring a new park, checking out a museum, trying a new lunch place, or having a family movie night, we find that trying something new together really does make each weekend stand out more in our memories. Recent adventures have included going to Garfield Park Conservatory, trying the new BurgerFuel in Broad Ripple, hiking at Ft. Harrison, and watching Moana.
- An early bedtime on Sunday night. Ideally, my husband and I like to go to bed by 9 p.m. on Sunday night to end the weekend with some reading or an episode of The Great British Baking Show. Getting extra rest on Sunday evening helps stave off the Monday morning exhaustion.
These eight factors combined are essential for making the weekend feel truly special for me. Obviously, your own list will vary. Maybe you don’t get a true weekend off and need to find other ways to carve out this time. We’re all different. But I encourage you to start thinking about what you really need to maximize your downtime and feel energized, happy, and alive.