I had a comment on the last post as well as a few emails asking me how I made the transition to simple weekends, as a result I thought I’d share a bit more about my journey.
When I was caring for the children I fostered, our weekends seemed far too manic. It was one Birthday party after another, extra curricular activities, homework, cleaning, cooking, shopping, errand running and not at all fun. There wasn’t a Monday morning as I headed back to work where I felt refreshed in any way and I knew in my heart when I’m not at peace, something has to change.
I thought about some important lessons I’d been exposed to and set about trying to find a system that would work for our immediate family, in this season of our lives. I began trying my best to use Thursday evenings as the night where the grocery shopping was done and the basic cleaning was accomplished. For me this was vacuuming, sweeping the floors, dusting and cleaning the bathrooms. I found Thursday evenings I had more energy in anticipation of the upcoming weekend.
Fridays after work and school we would go for swimming lessons and a swim, eat a simple meal (like soup or homemade chicken fingers with sweet potato fries and veggies) and just relaxed. There was no homework, no bill paying, no errand running, just relaxation. For the rest of the weekend I focused on key themes: homework accomplished on Saturdays (giving us Sundays off), one extra-curricular activity each, a nice long walk to the library for more books, one social engagement per weekend (this often meant having to choose and prioritize) and some quiet time spent at home (generally we were home from 2pm on Sundays for the rest of the day).
During that season of my life, when I literally “inherited” a large sibling group, things needed to be quite structured. It worked for us. When the children went back and I was without them I began this journey with a similar structure and slowly but surely in this season of my life I’ve seen I don’t quite need this type of structure or setting, so now things are quite different.
I still try to get all my errands, shopping and “business” done on Thursdays, out-of-the-way for the weekend. Apart from that I focus on one key priority, balance. I look ahead to the weekends early in the week and think about anyone I know in need, what my own needs are, how I’m feeling and what my key commitments will be. I have mastered the art of saying no (and let me tell you it really is an art that needs a great deal of practice!). Yesterday I was out almost all day and evening, I was also out Friday evening. I was invited to a social event today which would have been lovely, but the reality is, more than more socialization, I need some quiet time. I need to rest my body, to rejuvenate my soul and time for quiet reflection and planning. This morning I enjoyed a lovely 45 minute walk to a little Church, a quiet service and the walk home. I’ve sat here listening to Vinyl Cafe and enjoying a wonderful bowl of chili. I will spend some time this afternoon in prayer, napping and reading. I may meet a friend for a walk, but I might not. I plan to make decisions based on what makes me feel at peace, what gives me time away from consumerism and really focusing on what my body needs. Interestingly this week many friends and I were exposed to a horrendous cold, every single friend of mine that was exposed the same day as me is sick as a dog, they’ve lost their voices, they are coughing and sputtering and yet they all went on this trip today. Instead I feel as healthy as a fiddle, can breathe freely, have no cough and have chosen to rest my body. While this is certainly not a scientific experiment, like anything in life through trial and error you find what works for you!
My best advice is to start taking an activity log of your weekends, how are you spending your time, how do you feel, are you eating right, spending time at home in relaxation, spending time with friends or family. Do you feel at peace? If not, try just taking one day each weekend to really relax, try doing nothing more than pottering around the house, cooking or doing some laundry, going for a walk, listening to the radio and reading a book. If you’re like me, you’ll never look back….!
And now I’m off to read Fifth Business!