Thank God it’s Friday!
Time to finalize those plans for the weekend, but what to do, what to do?
Ever have that hangover feeling on Mondays, not from drinking, but from a frenzied weekend of running from place to place?
Ever look at the receipts in your wallet on Mondays and have that sinking feeling about how much money you spent on impulse, but wonder what exactly you have to show for it?
Nearly two years ago, in the Summer of 2009, I started planning low-key and low-cost weekends. Back then, it was out of necessity as I was on the City of Vero Beach Electric system and my monthly bill was taking a huge chunk out of my budget and eating up much of my previously disposable income.
I would intentionally plan to spend no money, in person or online, for the entire weekend, which for these purposes, begins at 5 p.m. Friday and ends at 9 a.m. Monday. Most weekends I achieved this goal and it was surprisingly satisfying.
There is a huge temptation when you have a small child, or bigger kids, to just get out of the house on the weekends. All the family members who have been scattered to the four winds at work, school, sports and meetings all week are suddenly under one roof. Even in the most harmonious family, this can be a test of patience and tolerance. The first impulse is to “go somewhere,” either separately or together.
Or for those who are enjoying the freedom of singledom or anewly empty nest, it’s commonplace to hop from restaurant to movie to festival to concert to mall to restaurant on the weekends. I see my friends on Facebook ckecking in and out of bistros, resorts, clubs and theme parks and, frankly, it exhausts me just thinking about doing all that stuff.
My son and I will be doing about 52 of these weekends — two down, 50 to go — during our year on The Compact. It might be fun for your family to try doing one.
It takes a little bit of planning. You need to do your grocery shopping ahead of time and plan the weekend’s meals. Maybe dinner on the grill for Friday night, toss ingredients in a pot Saturday morning and munch on sandwiches while dinner cooks, and possibly something special for Sunday dinner. Maybe invite friends or family over and enjoy the simple pleasure of their company.
For a kid, something as simple as making mudpies or playing in a sandbox can bring hours of enjoyment and creative play with no batteries or elecricity required.
Another thing we’ve started doing is finding things to do within walking distance of our house. Cycling around town isn’t an option for us yet as my son is just starting to ride a bike with training wheels. But biking to a park or a free outdoor concert or the beach might be a fun option for a family with older kids or folks with no kids.
Despite the fact that we live in an upstairs apartment, we are blessed with a huge, private back yard. We often camp out and have picnics on our own homestead. On rainy days, we do crafts, read stories, sing songs and watch movies together.
If you want to feel a little more productive, why not wash and detail the family cars together (you’re welcome to do my minivan after you’re finished), paint, build or fix something around the house. Plant a tree or some seeds or flowers. Teaching kids basic DIY skills and letting them help you is a wonderful gift to them.
If you’re looking to reconnect with your teens, tell family stories, give Grandma a call on the phone and let everybody talk to her, drag out the old photo albums or your wedding video and take a trip down memory lane. The kids will groan and roll their eyes, but someday they’ll remember the stories and want to tell their own kids. In my family, we did this a lot, I come from a long line of storytellers, which is possibly how and why I became a journalist.
Whatever you do, the most important thing is to slow down, relax and keep it simple. Try not living the weekend like the Amazing race of consumption. Try even unplugging from the internet and turning off the cell phone.
Taking the focus off of driving from place to place and buying things is actually freeing when you get used to it. Plus you get the peace of mind knowing that you’ve had very little impact on the environment in exchange for your fun.
After what I jokingly call a “monastic weekend,” I feel rested and ready to tackle whatever Monday brings.
Whatever you do, remember to relax!
If you do try this trial weekend, I’d love to know how it worked for you and your family.
Still working on writing the worm composting blog, think I might wait until we have some finished compost so I can show before and after pictures.
Next up . . . adding a hybrid to the family.