Weekends are an odd concept, but I suppose we are lucky to have “cycles of work and rest” as opposed to flat-out work, for most of us!
I am always taken aback when the media (magazines, websites, TV shows) focus on weekends as the pinnacle of the week. I always vowed I would never be one of those people who lives for the weekend, and sees the other five days as an obstacle to the next weekend. And especially not someone who parties so hard on the weekends that they have to drag themselves to work on Monday!
It took me a while to see the value of working days, and working weekdays (instead of evenings and weekends). If that’s the local norm, you are likely to have a spouse and friends who also work days, and perhaps children who attend public school on weekdays. Childcare is easier to manage on a weekday schedule, kids’ activities are planned for evenings after their parents are supposedly home from work, and family events are scheduled for weekends when everyone is presumably home together. But who actually lives like this?
Let’s look at who doesn’t:
- Shift workers
- People who do home-based work – family responsibilities, paid employment or both
- Home schoolers
- People with more than one job
- People who are retired or semi-retired
- Young children
- Those looking for work
- Those unable to work
- People in transition – relocating, recovering from illness, between jobs, etc.
For most of the folks on this list (which accounts for half of the people I know), a Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 schedule is not their reality or even something they aspire to. Some see it as avoiding the Rat Race. Some don’t have a separate Personal Self and Work Self. Some like swimming against the current and getting things done while “everyone else” is at work.
As a long-time single parent who worked mostly days, I was able to access regular childcare and enroll my child in the usual early-evening kid activities. However, I worked one evening a week, alternate Saturdays and occasional Sundays: somebody had to keep the library open! I missed school and family activities whenever they didn’t fall conveniently on my days off. I had to adjust to being present for “most” special occasions, and using vacation time for vital ones. I had to create a hodge-podge of expensive childcare arrangements for the non-standard hours.
On the flip side, I was able to run errands and make appointments on days off that fell during the week, and sometimes go into my child’s classroom for school events during the day.
I currently work a more regular schedule of 4 weekdays 9-5 and one weekday 1-9. Once a month I work a Saturday and get a weekday off in exchange. As a manager, I am on call to be consulted by staff in emergencies, and go in to work if necessary. Over the past few years, I have worked 9-9 as needed. However, I can also use flex-time and adjust my shifts around meetings, programs and even personal appointments if I like.
Since I have a job with a public service component and a supervisory component, I don’t expect to ever work strictly 9-5 and to completely forget the office when I leave it – nor would I want to have a job with that level of detachment.
As some of you know, I am an early bird and I cannot even comprehend working night shifts from 7-7 or 11-7. I would be a danger to myself and others because I would be drowsy and/or fast asleep at very inappropriate times! On the other hand, if I could work from 7 am to 3 pm, I might not choose it – I’d probably be winding down at 8 and in bed at 9! On the other hand, in a tight job market, one does what one has to do. Maybe I could adapt if that was the only option.
So what I am saying is…9 to 5 mostly works for me. Rom also works 9-5 weekdays with some on-call time. So mostly we can stay in sync and only have a day here-and-there when we work different shifts.
Ultimately I feel connected with people when our work and leisure are timed together, and I feel isolated when that doesn’t happen.
Maybe the real purpose of a Saturday/Sunday weekend is to rest, recharge and regroup for the week ahead. If so, I am only partially successful at that. I go to bed later and get up later. I have leisurely meals. I can spend unhurried time blogging. But I also cram in a full week’s worth of housekeeping and volunteering! It does help me feel less frazzled the rest of the week, though.
Since we are just two adults at home, our evenings are relaxed now, so I have less of a compulsion to design perfect weekends.
What are your weekends like – if you have them? Does your schedule mesh well with the schedules of your nearest-and-dearest?