How many people see a three day weekend as a time to relax? A time to enjoy family, friends or even their own company?
I am a bit different in this regard.
I hear long weekend and I think, “An extra day to catch up on everything I need to do!” I like to try to check as much off my ‘to do’ list as possible. My thinking is that I will be more relaxed on that third day when I have caught up on everything. (Except there’s always something else that needs to be done.)
The problem with this mentality is that I rarely feel like I have accomplished much by the end of the weekend.
Yes, sometimes I use the time wisely, like when we get our family Christmas picture done for our Christmas card. I know we get it done early. I just feel so much better when that task is finished. Nick makes me wait until December 1st to send them out though!
Other times I spend the day catching up on laundry or another task. The kids end up playing around me. I interact with them between chores. We eat lunch together. At the end of the day when I finally sit down, instead of feeling great about everything I accomplished, I realize that I would have rather spent more time with the kids.
I know that my time with my children at home is limited (our oldest is already 9!) and I am making an effort to slow down and enjoy them more. Instead of piling on more ‘to dos’ I went with a simpler plan to take back my long weekends.
A Mindful Approach
The most recent three day weekend was different. I realized that I usually felt as though I wasted my long weekends and wanted to change.
A couple of things really helped out. First, there was no soccer. Happy long weekend! The kids usually have soccer on Saturdays and Sundays. The lack of soccer alone made the weekend less hectic. We usually have to plan our weekends around practices and games.
Normally I would see a weekend off from soccer as a way to fit in some errands that I’ve been meaning to check off my list. Instead, Nick and I decided to make a list of things we wanted to do. The list also contained a few must dos. Once we completed the list we prioritized the order of each item on it. This was the second step to making my three day weekend a success.
We decided to knock out the few must do items right away (grocery shopping, cutting the grass, tidying up a bit). This took a little longer than expected. We worked on our ‘must dos’ until mid afternoon on Saturday. It was OK though because once those items were done we could focus on relaxing and enjoying the rest of the weekend!
It was really nice to get these items off the list right away. We knew we had to get them done. Having them hanging over our heads would have been distracting. The whole family worked together on tidying up which made it a quick activity. Also, it is so much easier to relax in a clean environment.
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Getting the Kids Involved
Once we finished our list of tasks that had to be completed we asked the kids to each tell us one thing they really wanted to do during the course of the long weekend. Then we made sure we focused on their activities next. We were able to accomplish all of their essentials that afternoon! It helped that two of them wanted to ride bikes. Another wanted to play a game as a family which took just under an hour. The fourth wanted to watch a movie. We had dinner and a movie in the living room for a second night that week!
By the end of the day we had accomplished much more than I would have expected. All of the tasks that needed immediate attention were done. Each child also got to choose a really fun activity that the whole family enjoyed! For the first time in forever I felt like I had spent a day off focusing on family. And, I still got some things checked off my to do list!
The next two days were open for fun and relaxation. We were able to spend time together as a family without an agenda. It was one of the few times I gave myself permission to just relax and enjoy our time together. Normally I focus on all that needs to be done around the house. This weekend I tried my best to ignore all of that. There were some things that I put off. I realized that the laundry could wait. I could go to Target another day.
Most importantly, at the end of the day, and weekend, I was happy with the amount of time I spent with my family.
Quick Steps to Having a Happy Long Weekend
- Write down everything you absolutely have to do. Include only the things that must get done. Be sure to ask others in your household (usually just adults) to do the same.
- Write down the things you really want to do. It’s important to include everyone in the family for this step so all have an enjoyable weekend.
- Complete the tasks in #1 first. This allows you to relax and enjoy the rest of your weekend.
- Choose at least one thing to do from each person’s list of fun activities. Then decide together how to spend the rest of your time.
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What I Learned
Letting go of my desire to plow through my to do list was very freeing. We still did dishes and other daily chores which helped me relax. They were quick and happened naturally because they were part of our normal routines.
The most important part of the weekend was spending time together as a family. We were able to enjoy our time together in a way that we usually do only on vacations. Our focus was on each other. And the memories of the weekend will last a lot longer than the feeling of satisfaction I get when the weekly laundry is done.
How do you like to spend your three day weekends?