Friday, January 19, 2018

Making Weekends Work Better

When M and I were together, I didn't have a lot of control over my weekends.  She loves weekends with a passion even greater than my love of all things nerdy, and she would wake up by 7 am on Saturday ready to go.  I refused to get up any earlier than 9 or 10 am, depending on how exhausted I was from the week, but as soon as I was out of bed, I was at her mercy.  Weekends would be a flurry of constant socializing/eating out/entertainment, and by the end of each one, I would be as tired as I was at the beginning.

The first few weekends after our breakup were pure bliss.  I slept in as late as I wanted, lounged in front of my computer for hours, and relaxed in a way that I hadn't for years.  Not only was I unwinding from the stress of a relationship in its death throws, but I was also recovering from years of being busier than I would choose to be.  I loved it.

But...after a few weeks...I got bored.  I got used to being well-rested, and I no longer needed to spend 12 hours in a day binge watching Stranger Things while eating food from Skip the Dishes.  I found myself actually longing to spend time with other people and to do some of the activities that had previously left me feeling overwhelmed.  So in the past few months, I've been experimenting with my weekends to figure out what works best for me.  In honour of this being the beginning of the weekend, I give you some of my thoughts on how I currently plan a good weekend.

Planning social events in advance:  None of my friends are flexible.  Most of them are physicians or work similarly demanding jobs, and many of them have children, so making plans with them requires effort and time.  Where I used to always have my girlfriend to spend time with, in the past few months I've had to get used to depending on others for human interaction, which requires booking things days to weeks ahead.

Making a schedule:  If left to my own devices, I will waste time for hours (hello Twitter) before emerging from my internet fog to discover that I've accomplished nothing.  Which is not a good thing, because weekends are my time for all of the shopping/cleaning/laundry/cooking that keep me going through the week.  I feel kind of pathetic every time I do it, but for weeks now, I have been writing a schedule for my weekend, and it really helps.

I tend to write two schedules:  one of the things that I must do (social events, essential life maintenance) and one of the things that I could do if feel motivated.  This way I can adjust my activities to my energy level and to what I feel like doing at any given time.  While still making sure that I have clean underwear for Monday.

Flexible events:  As an introvert, I have a very fine line between "Wow, I'm having so much fun at this social activity" and "Dear God, please don't make me ever have to interact with another human being ever again".  Unfortunately, I can't always predict where that line will be, so some weekends three social events will be the perfect number, whereas other weekends I will be hiding under the table by halfway through the second.  Enter the flexible social events.  Things that I can do if I'm feeling bored/lonely, but that I can also back out of if I want to.

Tonight, for example, there is a movie night at the school where I take my French lessons.  It's in my calendar, and it's something I'd like to do, but it's also something I can back out of with no warning if an evening on the couch with my cats is more to my liking.  On Sundays, I also have a conversational French group, which again, I can choose not to go to if I'm suddenly feeling too socially awkward to try to conjugate verbs dans le conditionnel with people I barely know. has really been great for this, as there are all kinds of events going on in my city, and most of them can be planned and/or cancelled last minute.  I've mostly just done French activities so far, but there are also knitting groups and book clubs that I'm thinking of joining.

(Is there an aware for being the most cat ladyish of all the middle-aged cat ladies?  Because I JUST WON IT.)

Exercise:  The bane of my existence, but also something that is necessary and that makes me feel better.  I have done this for a grand total of one week, but I am trying to do something physical every Saturday and Sunday.  There is a gym two floors down from my apartment, and I live on a running/walking path, so I have absolutely no excuse not to.

So that's how I'm currently doing weekends.  This weekend I'm about to head out to my French movie; tomorrow I have a very informal brunch with friends and dinner/movie with other friends; and Sunday I'm meeting my conversational group.  For "must do" things, I am getting my passport application sent in, making granola, cleaning, and doing laundry.  And for potential fun things/could do things, there's a new episode of Top Chef online, I have a pile of stuff to take to the thrift store, and there are always books.  Glorious, glorious books.

I should probably also call my mother.

I realize as I write this that I am immensely lucky to have such a flexible weekend.  I'm sure there are some working parents out there who would be happy if their weekend includes peeing in private once and getting most of their children to wear pants most of the time, and for them my weekend might seem ridiculously leisurely.  But this is entirely by design!  I spent years of my life living in survival mode as a medical student and resident who never had enough time.  Now that I have some extra hours to spare, it's time to enjoy it.

What do you have planned for the weekend?


  1. I am much like you. I am tired by the weekends and while there are always things that must be done (I just finished stacking several tons of hay) I need optional down time. I am now going to lie on the sofa with several cats and read. I might just nod off for a while, too.

    1. Lying on the sofa with several cats and reading is pretty much the single best thing in life. Slightly better if it comes with a glass of wine and some dark chocolate.

  2. Nodding off on the couch is an underrated activity. I endorse wholeheartedly.

  3. It's so good that you are working to figure out what you like and not what is just easiest to fall into. I like the idea of two different to-do's. Flexibility with yourself int he moment is a very kind thing.

    Right now, I am working on making sure this extrovert gets enough contact with humans outside of work. Since I am allowed to work ridiculous hours right now, I have to schedule my fun or it is easy to stay at work and deal with the debt. But I am allowed joy now, too.

    1. Finding that balance between working all the time and making time for joy along the way is tough. I'm glad you're making some time for the latter.

  4. I am a parent. Yes to getting to use the bathroom in private! Tho my kids generally are okay wearing pants. I still enjoy my weekends as a change of pace and a time to hang out with my fun kids. They're at an active, exhausting, but fun stage -- ages 9 months and 3.5 years, so they need lots of attention but are silly and enjoyable.

    I also lived in survival mode for years. This feels less crazy than that time, strangely. I'm glad to not be working 13 hour days between teaching, taking classes, and taking more classes (I did a grad program while also taking a full undergrad load to cover "missing" subjects for my science degree while also teaching college classes).

    I will miss this time when it's gone, but I'm also looking forward to weekends when I can veg more as the kids get older.

    1. Every time of life has its good and its bad. I actually miss some aspects of my training, although I have no desire to go back to it and vastly prefer this slower time of life.