This summer, inspired by an article on Manrepeller, we decided to treat our weekends like vacations.
At least for the summer. Or rather, like staycations. Instead of using the weekend as a time to catch up on all of the work (both paid and unpaid) that’s not getting done, we’ll simply enjoy the time. Now that summer is in full swing, we are evaluating how this experiment is going.
We’re having mixed results. There are a few reasons why this isn’t an unequivocal success. First, obligations sometimes get in the way–like a last minute day trip to see my dad on Father’s Day. Second, sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate with our plans. Third, sometimes things like pesky housework and laundry need to get done. Finally, as much fun as we’re having on the weekends, Mondays hit us like a ton of bricks.
Let’s unpack each of these reasons. The first is family obligations, which is pretty obvious. We’ve learned that neither of our respective families are great at planning (or else they’re not great at informing us of their plans). Sometimes we find out last minute that they’re getting together or they’ll be near us. Because it’s important, we’ll usually make every effort to connect with them. If we were on an actual vacation, this wouldn’t happen. And at times, the obligations aren’t family related at all, but rather commitments one of us has made. A race I’m running, a getaway that Mr. Vine planned, a free event to check out a new shop. Many of these activities are things we hope will fill our time during early retirement. But now, sometimes too many commitments stack up at once, and we’re suddenly over-scheduled. These commitments or family obligations can keep us from enjoying a perfect summer day by hiking or lingering at the pool.
The second reason–weather, is also obvious. Most of our weekend-vacation or staycation activities are outdoors. With both of us working in offices during the best part of every day, when we’re not working, we want to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. The weather doesn’t always give us that chance. We often use those cloudy and rainy days to catch up on laundry or housework that’s been neglected (see reason no. 3). Maybe sneak in a little tv binge watching. When we’re able to use a cold or cloudy day to catch up on work, it’s perfect. We then have a magical weekend that feels both fun and restful. Stress occurs when you’re doing one thing and wish you were doing another. This can happen even when both of those things are necessary or self-directed.
The third reason: regular chores and work, has been the easiest one to overcome. We’ve started thinking of some of these tasks as fun. We had a great time shopping at the greenhouse and planting annuals on our patio this year. We’re simplifying to make our chores more. It can be as simple as a shift in perspective. Now, if only we can get excited about cleaning the garage.
Finally, ignoring email and work has not cured our Sunday scaries. Mondays feel tougher than ever. But I also don’t feel like I sacrificed my weekend on the altar of work. The weekends just aren’t long enough to squeeze in as much relaxing and adventure as we’d like. And it seems, the work week isn’t long enough to squeeze in all of the paid work we need to accomplish.
How do you cure the Sunday scaries? What are your work-life balance secrets?