I used to dream of this. On the pinnacle of a Friday night whilst dancing with friends. On Sunday evenings as I pulled the covers over me, lamenting the approach of the work week ahead. My dream was that of the endless weekend. And now in a twisted way thanks to COVID-19, we are living it.
Many of us have been lucky enough to transition our jobs to our households. And by now we are well-versed in tips on how to work from home: establishing a morning routine, having a schedule, creating a designated workspace, getting dressed even though we are going nowhere. Working from home is not a particularly new phenomenon. The (obvious) catch is that now we are both living and working from home full-time. And as the days blend together we might ask ourselves: What is a weekend?
Still from Downton Abbey. Maggie Smith as Lady Grantham in one of her most iconic scenes.
The weekend as we know is composed of two days devoted to recreation, amusement, and leisure. Weekends are an exercise in sustainability. Depending on how we use our Saturday and Sunday, we are given an opportunity to recharge for the week to come or to rid ourselves from the toil of the previous days. It may seem barbaric to think back to the days when Sunday was the only day off of work for the standard worker. And even then, Sunday was usually deemed a day of worship. Aside from work being a necessity for financial survival, work was considered a source of social and moral values. Leisure, on the other hand, was equated to idleness and too much of it was frowned upon. In this view, work itself was its own reward. And to a degree, this continues to ring true today.
But “free time” has acquired value in the hierarchy of time distribution. And the two-day weekend is the manifestation of how we structure our leisure time. Weekends tend to have a different rhythm. During these two days we are allowed to do something, or anything, or nothing. However, social distancing and self-quarantine have slowly and surely made everyday life devolve into one long monotonous weekend. So how do we separate Saturday and Sunday from the rest of the days right now? Well, it dawned on me that we can take some of the structure we have been building for our workdays and apply it to our weekends. These are tough times and we must be generous to ourselves. And it may seem counterintuitive, but one way to do this is to be a little restrictive with our leisure time. Allocating leisure and establishing restrictions may help us differentiate between our days and look forward to the weekend once again.
I grew up in a family where weekends were a time and a place with exclusive plans. We went to the beach or took day-trips to nearby towns. We had “fun” meals, which for us kids meant a break from nutritious meals. We visited extended family. On less ambitious weekends we at least went out for ice cream. It was an unspoken rule that on Saturday and Sundays we indulged. Come Monday it was back to business. So I put together some ideas based on those guidelines from my childhood:
Treat yourself with a special meal on the weekend. This can be a good time to get take-out from that local place you love. Or from your guilty-pleasure restaurant.
Yes, a lot of us are drinking more now. It’s fine! But pushing this indulgence to the weekend can be a small reward for getting through the week and can add some magic to your weekend nights. I expect some resistance on this. But it’s just an idea.
Special breakfast. Make a more elaborate breakfast on the weekend. At home we have designated Saturdays pancake day (and we made banana pancakes when I accidentally ordered 36 bananas).
Watch that movie that you have been meaning to watch. Read that steamy novel. Or catch up on a show.
Don’t work if you can avoid it. This is complicated in some industries. But make sure to give yourself at least some time off.
This methodology of containing certain recreational activities and amusements to two days has proven to be effective for me during this pandemic as I live out this craziness in a studio apartment with my sister and my brother in Miami, constantly tempted by the beautiful warm days and the glinting pool across the street. It’s not much, but being selective about our choice of activities has given us the illusion of breaking the monotony of daily life indoors (and a chance to reminisce about our childhood weekends, when often all we wanted was to stay in bed all day).