Weekly Imbalance – Living for the Weekends

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weekends

If you are a parent who works out of the home in a Monday through Friday full-time job, you are probably like me and (unfortunately) only live for the weekends. You may be all too familiar with the following schedules.

Weekday schedule consists of:

Morning

  • Wake up at 6 a.m.
  • Walk dog
  • Feed dog
  • Shower & dress all parties
  • Morning drop off line at school, i.e., “daily Armageddon.”
  • Drive to the train station
  • Commute on the train
  • Walk to the office from GCT
  • Arrive at the office, seamlessly sucked into a cubicle, hoping to resurface in one piece at the end of the day.

Afternoon

  • School
  • Work 9-5 ish 

Evening

  • Mommy gets home (after 7 p.m. most days), still reeling from the traffic home from the station and must ready up for round 2.
  • Prep and eat “dinner” (sometimes this is a bagel and cream cheese, cereal, or microwave popcorn)
  • (Hopefully, finish up, not start) Homework. I don’t know about your kids, but my son has more homework in 5th grade than I had in college. So this right here could derail the entire night.
  • Feed dog
  • Walk the dog, who is still hyper and doing “zoomies” through the house at 9 p.m.
  • Dishes (rinse and load the endless pile in the sink)
  • Laundry (at least one load so we all have the bare essentials in the morning)
  • Sweep the floor…what in the world is on the floor?
  • Reading (20 minutes before bedtime)
  • Shower if not in the morning
  • Bedtime, (at least 1 hour late) where we fall peacefully to sleep, with sweet dreams until the morning light.
  • Or lie restlessly awake thinking of all the things that still need to get done. Then hop up and frantically try to do as many as you can before you pass out in exhaustion.
  • Or lie awaking nervously scrolling through social media until you doze off in a cross-eyed stupor.

Weeknights could also include one or more of the following:

  • Cub Scout meeting
  • Religious education
  • Soccer practice
  • Doctor’s appointment
  • PTA/Board of Ed meeting
  • School functions such as activity night, recital, art show, etc.
  • School project 

Weekend schedules usually include:

  • Farmers’ Market
  • Church
  • Grocery shopping
  • Post Office/Bank
  • Walk the dog (x 3 each day)
  • Clean house
  • Yard cleanup
  • Laundry (again/still)
  • Bills/paperwork/taxes/organizing mail
  • Picking up whatever money-saving (not necessarily time-saving) treasure I found on Marketplace/Nextdoor/Craigslist that week.
  • Playdates
  • And, once traveling soccer season starts in a couple of weeks, this will also include Saturday soccer practice and Sunday soccer game in some remote, yet scenic, neighboring Westchester community.

Weekends could also include one or more of the following:

  • Cub Scout camping or hiking trip or banquet
  • Church coffee hour or picnic
  • 1 or more kid’s birthday party at the rockin’, jumpin’, ninja warrior venue of choice.
  • Trip to the hardware store or call/meeting with the contractor regarding home repairs

Good thing we eliminated baseball, chess, Tae kwon do, swimming, and piano…for now.

Most importantly on weekends, we make a desperate effort to create or attend a bonding activity/quality time with our child who we basically just schlepped through the daily regimen all week and who just wants to sleep in and veg out in front of the screen, build with Legos or paint on my dining room table. We create aspirational schedules of brunch, local street fairs, museums, trips to the zoo, movie nights, family dinners, ice cream sundaes, etc. All to make sure we make those two days at the end of the week really count because it’s all we have. Our two days of freedoms and obligations.

Then Monday morning, my coworkers will ask: “How was your weekend?” I honestly don’t remember most of the time, what we did, what we accomplished, and how the time flew by so fast. Two days and we are right back to the grind that is the weekday “9-5.”

I intended to write this blog to suggest some steps to take to break out of this vicious cycle. To be honest, I have not one right answer. It is my daily and weekly plight, no matter how hopeful I am that, somehow, we will get home earlier, there will be less to do on the weeknights, and the weekends will be as productive and fulfilling and life-changing as I always hope they will be on Saturday morning.

Here are some solutions I have tried.

Ordering grocery delivery online and schedule delivery at 5–7 a.m.

This worked the first few times when I woke up at the crack of dawn to find the grocery fairy had come and left little packages of our favorite foods at our doorstep. This no longer works very well since we adopted a dog last year. He is the quintessential family “guard dog”/mush whose bark is way bigger than his bite. Turns out, the grocery fairy is actually a nondescript figure fumbling around the woods with his iPhone flashlight trying to find my front door, with his girlfriend waiting in the car like the getaway driver. Once he finds the door, he repeatedly approaches, dropping large mysterious parcels at the doorstep. This sets my lovely, ever-vigilant guard dog into a barking, dashing frenzy that not only wakes the whole house but neighborhood and countryside as well. So, the 5 a.m. grocery delivery does not work so well for me right now but may work just fine for others.

Setting up a regularly scheduled auto-ship for some essential products, such as dog food, is a lifesaver. Otherwise, our dutiful guard dog would not eat!

Another strategy I have tried is pulling spastic all-nighters to see how many chores, bills, and other tasks I can complete while the house is asleep and before the alarm rings at 6 a.m. This could be semi-productive but neglects the importance of sleep and makes for a zombie-like, less productive existence the next day.

I also tried waking up an hour early to do YouTube yoga or Podcast meditation. Yeah right…See all-nighters mentioned above.

I definitely take advantage of my hour-and-15-minute commute. I use this time to actually sit down, check emails, listen to podcasts or audiobooks, enjoy the scenery as it whizzes by, sort mail, pay bills, organize taxes, and meditate if possible and if not to just take a deep breath. This is technically my only alone time or a quiet time of the day. So, I definitely use it wisely.

Author Tim Ferris wrote a book a few years back (2016) called The Four-Hour Workweek. He is a genius, IMHO. His book is a step by step guide to escaping the corporate world and daily rat race, working more effectively, working smarter not harder, living life on the beach with a margarita in hand and making your money work for you through passive income, living like a millionaire without having to be one.

The idea is just starting to take hold in the corporate world, little by little. Many companies are offering flex schedules with opportunities to work remotely from home or the beach or wherever or are trying the 4-day work week. Companies are finding productivity on the rise as a result of it. For example, Microsoft Japan experienced a 40% increase in productivity after implementing the 4-day work week. In addition, it helps improve employee retention and work-life balance…not surprised in the least!

That is definitely a step in the right direction and would at least give us one more day for the weekend to use how we need it. I have heard amazing stories of cleaning the house with the kids out of the house, going to the post office during a weekday morning before the mayhem begins, going to Trader Joe’s before grocery apocalypse sets in—oh the possibilities! Alas, I currently do not have the option of flex schedule, working remotely, or a four-day work week, so I continue to teeter from day-to-day.

However, with everything going on in our world right now, perspectives on daily life are rapidly changing as we adjust. Now that so many people around the world are no longer able to go to work and are self-quarantined with their families, things are bound to change. Stay well, mamas!

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Emily is the mother of a beautiful 10-year-old boy and a handsome 5-year-old, high-energy, boxer pitbull mix. She was born and raised in Rahway, NJ. She obtained her Bachelor's degree from Columbia University in Psychology, with minors in Spanish Language and Literature and Visual Arts. She has been a print producer for fashion, luxury, and consumer goods clients for over 20 years. She has now resided in Ardsley, NY for over 10 years. Her interests include yoga, pilates, meditation, travel, minimalism, outdoor life with a dog, special dietary needs, clean eating, essential oils, prenatal/neonatal health, wine and cocktails, and animal rescue, to name a few.