Do You Do Weekends?

Photo: weloveweekend.nl

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
  • Entrepreneurs
  • 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
  • Students
  • 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.

North American-style calendar, Sunday to Saturday weeks

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?

32 comments

  1. Our schedules are a little weird. I’m starting my own business (professional organizing), so the hours vary wildly. My husband is a firefighter and works 24 hour shifts from noon to noon with 48 hours off in between. This means I get to see him every day, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like he gets a full two days off in between each shift. We have one kiddo is full time school and the other goes three mornings a week. I do have to say that I love having my husband home a lot more during the week. He helps tremendously with getting our oldest to school and will help pick up kids on days he either doesn’t work or gets off shift. We do still have that general weekend time, but sometimes that just means me and the boys and sometimes we all get to hang together. We usually use those days to sleep in. I’m definitely looking forward to the days our boys can get themselves off to school with out help!

    • I haven’t heard of 24-hour shifts before!

      Kids getting themselves off to school without help? Not happening! Even at age 17 they still need some nudging, LOL!

      • Megyn

        My siblings and I were getting ourselves out the door without help by 5th grade lol! Both of our parents worked, so we had to fend for ourselves a lot…but it taught us to be self-sufficient 🙂

  2. My internal clock has never allowed me to mesh with most people’s schedules. I stay up until 3 am and often sleep til either 10 or 11am. I enjoyed second shift the most when working outside the house but of course that didn’t work well as a parent and had to switch, later taking on work I could do from home to home school. Currently, I need to do very little in the way of work to support myself as my expenses are very low. This allows me to work on my own schedule and be flexible for family obligations or emergencies.

  3. EcoCatLady

    I’ve never worked a traditional 9-5 M-F job. Part of me used to think that I would like the structure, but knowing my rebel tendencies it probably wouldn’t have worked out so well. These days, I tend to forget what day of the week it is, and every once in a while I’ll decide to “run a quick errand” around 5pm and I’m blown away by the number of cars on the road – I forget about things like rush hour!

    There were plenty of times that working an odd schedule was inconvenient – I was always working when other people were relaxing, so I missed out on a fair amount of things, especially at the beginning. But as time wore on, pretty much everybody who came into my life worked an odd schedule too, so it worked out just fine. Oddly enough, the people who gave me the most trouble in terms of scheduling were my various bosses and members of our board of directors. Somehow, they just couldn’t seem to understand why I would balk at an 8am meeting when I had to work until 10:30pm most nights! Glad those days are over!

    Generally speaking I consider not having to work a standard schedule to be a real blessing. I seldom have to deal with traffic, never have to take time off of work for things like doctors appointments, taking a cat to the vet, taking my car to the shop, etc, etc. And it allows CatMan and I to enjoy things like bike trails and restaurants without having to deal with crowds.

  4. Fiona

    My weekends are like yours now, Dar. A full week’s worth of housekeeping, church…and also work for school. I am finding that term-time is a blur of non-stop work, evenings & weekends…but we go hard for 10 weeks then have 2 or 3 weeks off (and longer in summer.) I don’t mind peaks and troughs in work…it’s like seasons.

    I do envy you your work/life balance though. It’s great that you both love your job and can balance your other life interests around it. I find my teaching job hectic and close to burn-out over the long term. I’d love to find a way to pace it better, but right now I can’t imagine it being a 10 year thing (or longer.)

    • I’ve had a reprieve since changing jobs – my previous one was more all-consuming. Rom does not always “love” his job but the mostly-standard hours and benefits are probably worth it. He was previously self-employed for over 10 years so going back into the corporate world feels like a grind at times. I will ask you what you think of your long-term job prospects a year from now 🙂

  5. Juhli

    As I am now retired from paid work and its demanding long hours I don’t need weekends but Hubby sure enjoys having a different schedule. He loves his job (thankful for that) but when a beautiful Sunday arrives and we can take a long urban hike with a break for a coffee (me) and beer (him) he is delighted to not be at work during daytime hours.

  6. I worked in retail and so never experienced a traditional weekend – my old job was so ‘full on’ and I found work life balance was impossible to achieve (especially with 3 young children) and eventually I burnt out.
    With the benefit of hindsight I know that I did everything wrong…but I’m trying to make up for it now 😉

  7. I feel like I waste a lot of my time during weekends not doing anything special. I get up late on Saturday, have lunch, do laundry, and usually go see my mom and have dinner with her and come back home after I put her in bed. My hubby has 5 hour class on Saturday and he usually eats dinner by himself on Saturday after he comes back from class.
    On Sunday, I go to church with my hubby, go grocery shopping, eat lunch, do a little cleaning, eat dinner and relax while watching a movie together or Walking Dead haha~. We don’t really plan things often other than meeting up with friends maybe once a month. But I think that’s because my hubby’s in school and most of my friends are pregnant or just busy with young babies/kids.
    Most of the people I know have regular work week and once in awhile when I have a day off during the week, I really don’t have anybody to hang out with unless I join a play date some of my friends have for their children.

  8. Lisa

    This made me think of a funny scene in ‘Downton Abbey’ where Maggie Smith says, “What is a weekend?” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhfpBW-nUWk). 🙂

    Having been on leave and effectively retired for over a year now, I love being able to set my own schedule. I always struggled to fit into the 8-4 hours of my work, largely because I am not a morning person. I was always tired, and then I would use my weekends to try to make-up for the loss, which never works. The downside being that my husband (who, like Juhli’s, loves his job) and the majority of my friends are on a more traditional schedule. Consequently, when I shop or volunteer during work hours, I am largely with young mothers or the retired group, and there is an age difference (i.e. not my traditional peers), although I have made some lovely older friends now.

    • I remember that scene 🙂 I know what you mean about who you meet during “work hours” (weekday daytimes). On my days or mornings off, when I run errands, I sometimes think, “Where are all the people like me?” (meaning my age) but relatively few of “us” are not working outside the home. Like you, I have become much more open-minded about the ages of my friends!

  9. I work 7-3.30pm with every second Friday off and the occasional overtime in evenings or weekends. The BF works 9-6pm realistically, and never has weekend work, but sometimes after work functions. My mother and father work sort of a 9-5, and my brothers, we’ll leave them out for now! Even the two hour shift in the BF’s schedule means different bed times and waking times.

    As a student I worked variable hours to fit in with university, including some overnight/sleep over shifts in a boarding school. I did crave a time to be ‘normal’ and have my weekends free! Whilst I know there’s no true normal, I do agree that it seems most people have weekends, making it easier to socialise etc. Admittedly my hours a little earlier than most, and that does mean I am regularly struggling with after work activities and the times they finish (and how they impact on my sleep and then work). In the perfect world, any after work commitments for me are best completed by 8.30pm, leaving time to get home, unwind and sleep.

    Whilst I’ve never really been the party animal to crave the weekends, lately my after work activities have meant the weekend spells more time uninterrupted. That being said, last weekend was full of planned activities and left me a little frazzled that I didn’t have enough time to blogs/relaxing/cleaning at home.

    • I feel the same when structured activities claim a lot of the weekend. This week I am off today (Monday) and working Tuesday to Saturday. Next Monday morning, it will feel like I didn’t have a real weekend because I had 3 days off this week, and one next week.

  10. I work 8:30 – 5:30 Mon-Fri, and occasionally go in on Saturdays, or bundle work to be done at home. I am trying to kick this very bad habit. I am making it a point to meet up with friends after work or on weekends so I don’t leave myself time to turn to my papers. Got to do that quick before I become married to my job.

  11. My work schedule is usually 7-5 with some later nights thrown in now and then. I’m off weekends, and my hubby (who works third shift, 11pm – 6am) is off from 6am Friday through about 9pm Sunday, when he begins to get ready for work that night. I guess I’m just a homebody, but I crave weekends just for the simple fact that I don’t have to go anywhere or interact with many people unless I want to. The people I work with are lovely, but I enjoy my “me time” as well. Like you and many of your commenters, I catch up on laundry, cooking, and cleaning on the weekends. I also squeeze in most of my school work, so the weekends are still filled with a type of “work” and productive hours, just with a 30 second commute, more breaks, and laid-back boss 😉

  12. We are a pretty traditional household, but I always loved having time off during the Monday through Friday week. You could actually get things done, make appointments, and avoid the long lives weekends bring to certain establishments. I like the idea of rethinking our collective approach to work scheduling although it would be difficult to shake that feeling of: “It’s the weekend!”

    • Yep, even people who work Saturdays and Sundays routinely think, “It’s supposed to be the weekend” and “I’m always working weekends” – there’s always that contrast with what “the rest of the world” is doing.

  13. I work Mon – Thurs 8.30am – 4.00pm. So my weekend starts Friday – I cannot even imagine a 2 day weekend – how would I get everything done? Hubby works 5 day week leaves about 8am and arrives back about 7.30 pm. I enjoy having Fridays to myself and I try to do all the cleaning then so that the Sat and Sun is clear to enjoy ourselves.

  14. It is an interesting question…I work a split shift every week day, so my days start at 5:30 and end at 7:00 – a long day! My weekends, therefore, are spent with house work on one day and some fun activity the next…so whilst, yes, I do ‘do’ weekends, I don’t get evenings and my weekends are mostly a mad catch up with life!

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