Ah, hello weekend! Time of relaxation and restoration! So, what are your plans?
If you’re planning to catch up on work and housework, I do hope you will take some time for yourself too. I’m really passionate about the weekend being free of ‘tasks’ but I’m mindful of the fact that I work a four day week and it’s somewhat easier for me to fit all my chores into the week days. But as far as you can I would really recommend having the intention of keeping your weekends, or at least one of the days, free of ‘stuff to do’ so you can have a proper recharge.
Another thing people struggle with at weekends, particularly if you have children to entertain or friends and family to see, is the financial burden and the pressure to spend out.
And when your Facebook and instagram is full of people having days out, meals out, endless retail therapy, it can make your weekend seem lacklustre if you’re having to rein it in. But believe me, no weekend was well spend in a shopping mall and you don’t have to spend money to have a deeply fulfilling and satisfying weekend.
Over the last year we have had friends be made redundant, be restructured out of their job, lose their businesses even or struggle to keep it afloat. And of course many others have soldiered on with no pay increase (for years) or no upturn in the fortunes of their business, in the face of higher costs for, well, just about everything. I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people reading this blog might feel a little less well off than they did 2-3 years ago.
And even if we have the money to treat every weekend like a holiday, doesn’t that get a little – boring? When do treats stop really feeling like treats? I remember how Dom and I used to go out for lunch EVERY Saturday, and then into town to browse and shop, for about 10-15 years in our twenties and thirties. Looking back it became very commonplace and really un special very quickly. Yes we enjoyed it, but there were other things we could have been doing or using our time and money for that would have been just as enjoyable.
Also for our children, if you have any. I personally think there are important lessons to be learned in childhood abut the pursuit of more simple ways of relaxing and having fun and being able to rely on less to be happy.
Not everything that’s fun comes in a box. Not everything has to be celebrated with a treat or a meal out or a day trip to an event or venue.
So with all of this is mind, here are my top 10 things to do on a weekend, either alone, as a couple or as a family.
1. Play a board game – come on when was the last time you dragged out the monopoly or dusted off the scrabble set? Most households have a board game or two, just hanging out, waiting for someone to play with them. Playing a game is a great way to switch off the brain, spend time together and just have fun – don’t let it get too competitive!
2. Take a nap – naps! So, so good. Don’t feel guilty, not for one second, just either get yourself comfy on the sofa or in an armchair or better still, pop off to bed. Gather blankets, eiderdowns, duvets and cushions. If you have small children, nap when they nap. if you have larger children who will not nap, either ask them to leave you alone while you have one (works ok with 8+ kids) or, if you have children between nap age and independence, just instigate a ‘Quiet Hour’ where everyone just chills out doing their own thing and no-one demands anything of one another. And try and sneak the nap anyway!
3. Bake a cake – if you have flour, butter (or oil), sugar and some eggs, you can make a cake. There are cakes that don’t require flour, those that don’t need eggs so have a google and see what you can make with what you have. Take a look in your cupboards, fruit bowls and fridge and see what can be used. Apple cake, banana muffins, chocolate chip cookies. Let’s not get involved in patisserie here people, just a simple madeira, or victoria sponge can really lift the day. If you bake too much, offer a neighbour or nearby friends a hand delivered afternoon treat.
4. Have a candlelight evening – turn off all the lights, switch of the TV and radio, unplug those devices and just enjoy conversation or the silence, maybe a game of cards and some reading (out loud or to yourselves) until it gets too dark and then… to bed!
5. Feed the birds – especially good to do in colder weather and when the days are shorter but you can feed the birds in summer too. Create an activity to make bird feeders – use pine cones covered in lard or peanut butter and with seeds stuck in, hung from string on trees or fences. Or just put out some little tit bits of meat and cheese on bird tables or window sills.
6. Start a gratitude journal – you can either do this alone or with others. Why not involve a partner, a child or create a family journal? Think about all the things that you are grateful for and write them down. Read them out to one another. To get my free downloadable gratitude journal with lovely colouring in pages, tips and information about bringing gratitude into your life, just sign up to my mailing list. The more grateful you are, the more you like your life just the way it is.
7. Go for a walk – get out in the fresh air and experience the loveliness and the tranquility of nature. Even living in a city you can find a park, a canal or riverside, a botanical garden perhaps. Or why not hop on a bus or train and just get out of town? I’m lucky enough to live in a place where I can walk straight into fields and woods from my house and I’m so grateful for that every day, it’s a true luxury, far beyond anything I could buy.
8. Have a pot luck dinner – how very American! But don’t let lack of time to prepare dinner for eight (or finances) stop a get together between friends. Pick a theme, co-ordinate and ask everyone to bring a dish or an item to complete a meal. If you have a few people and the food could get a bit out of hand, ask some people to bring table decorations, games or entertainment. And chairs! I have asked people in the past to bring chairs, cushions, glasses and crockery – in fact once someone brought a table to join onto the end of ours so that about 14 of us could eat together! And remember to ask for help with the clearing away.
9.Write a letter or card – children and older relatives and friends particularly like a handwritten letter or card so dig out those notecards you got for Christmas or just grab some white A4, whatever you have to hand, and write. Children can also be involved in the sending of these, if they are of writing age, or they can be encouraged to draw a picture to include with your letter. Jake writes cards and little notes to his great grandma and I am so glad that he sent the last one about a fortnight ago as since then she’s been in hospital and is now sadly in a nursing home and not doing at all well. But I know that the arrival and reading of that card gave a very old, very ill lady so much pleasure and genuine happiness. Go on. Write someone a letter.
10. Have a film night – we all do this regularly but why not make it really special? Instead of just picking a film on Netflix and gathering on the sofa, you could theme food and drinks to the film, make time to watch the sequel as well as the main film, get all the cushions and blankets out, have lots of treats to nibble and nice things to sup. And there’s nothing wrong with watching something everyone has seen a million times before, so long as everyone is happy with that.