Remembering to enjoy life (1 day a week)

For the first time in recent memory, I feel relaxed.

I have more things to do than there is time to do them.  I’ve been chronically running around.  I’m behind at work with no hope of getting caught up anytime soon.

We took Saturday off completely.  Recently we’ve been spending all weekend every weekend running errands and getting food ready for the week.  This week we drove up to the city and visited a museum.  We got bi bim bap and local ice cream and walked around a park and sat at a playground and didn’t run a single errand.  Because, if we hadn’t, we still would have felt like there was nothing to look forward to in life outside of work and chores.

I want to feel guilty on some level (probably on the Catholic upbringing level) but I can’t.  There is and was no end in sight to the work and the chores.  I’m all for getting things done first and taking breaks later, but sometimes that just isn’t feasible.  Free time is taken in uneasy unpredictable chunks spent checking a blog or doing emergency childcare.  But sometimes it’s important to schedule in that fun relaxed family time too.  (Lest you think we’re neglectful parents– our kid is fully involved in family chores– he’s not neglected… he’s just learning how to cook and clean and shop as a family unit.  And playdates aren’t exactly relaxed.  He also gets just mommy time on Sundays when DH is at board gaming and just daddy time on the day I teach an evening class.)

If you believe the Whitehall and other studies, chronic stress leads to elevated levels of cortisone which leads to all sorts of chronic diseases and a weaker immune system.  Now, we’re not chronically stressed like much of America– we have more control over our own destinies with our education and precautionary savings and we live in environments where it’s pretty much safe to go out even at night.  We don’t always have to be watchful of danger.  But it is also easy to forget to remember that we can and should relax.  We don’t always have to be thinking about work or struggling to get everything done.

So I don’t think I will regret Saturday.  I did it for my long-term health.  I’m ready to attack chores and work with renewed purpose and vigor.  A day off on occasion reminds us why we’re alive and why we do what we do.  And most importantly, it reminds us that there’s life outside of work.

When I was doing my dissertation, my mother told me to work 6 days a week and do nothing work related on the seventh day.  For working 7 days a week leads to burn-out and insanity, not to mention unfinished dissertations.  The same is true for a tenure-track professor.  Though life as a true grown-up may require that more time be spent on chores and so on, it is important to note that chores don’t always count as not-work.  Sometimes a true vacation, however small, is required.  That, and ethnic food not available in one’s own small town.

What do you do to remember why you’re alive?

15 Responses to “Remembering to enjoy life (1 day a week)”

  1. Everyday Tips Says:

    Do not feel guilt over a day off! Days off are fantastic!!! There will always be chores and such, you will never, ever be completely caught up.

    For me, I love a day trip to the beach, a science museum, or maybe even just getting absorbed by a book. You gotta have those days to keep yourself sane!

  2. First Gen American Says:

    I had an insane week, topped off by food poisoning on Friday night. My son skipped swim class on saturday because he was also still sick leftover from last weekend. Does doing chores on a leisurely pace count?

    Since we sat home for a good chunk of the weekend, it was the first time in a while that all my laundry got done, folded AND put away. The sheets are all clean and my 6 months of ironing that I’ve ignored got done. I was also out of sauce, so that got made too.

    Yesterday we did go to the pumpkin patch. I’ll try to write about it this week. Sometimes feeling caught up is good too (although I’ll never feel that way at work). I even spent a little time out in the garden yesterday. Felt good.

  3. Rumpus Says:

    I tend to read more comic books. As I get more stressed I tend to become more escapist in my reading…so the comic books I’ve got in the restroom become time sinks.

  4. frugalscholar Says:

    I read (sometimes reread) loonnggg novels–Bleak House, Middlemarch, War and Peace, and the like. Happiness!

  5. Money Reasons Says:

    Just hanging with the kids works for me, especially while on vacation.

  6. Tara Says:

    I followed your mother’s advice during my undergrad. I would work like crazy Monday through Saturday and then take Sunday off to do chores, sports, laundry, and relax. My friends thought I was crazy to take an entire day off, but I found that I was far more productive working in a focused manner for 6 days and then taking one day off than haphazardly working every day.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My mom gives good advice. Though honestly I’m not as good as you are– Saturday was my day of rest with Sunday the frantic work day. (I procrastinate, therefore I am an academic.)

      • Tara Says:

        Well I already had 5 hours of sports commitments on Sunday evening and no commitments on Saturday, so it was a no brainer. I *had* to have all of my work for Monday done by 3 pm on Sunday, so it was easier to just take the day off and sleep in and such.

        I totally procrastinate. On the other hand, I wrote some of my best papers after weeks of research with my laptop on my lap, leaning against my pillow against the wall and all my research spread out over the bed around me, in the two days before the paper was due.

  7. Take a break and read some great posts | Everyday Tips and Thoughts... Says:

    […] Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured share a day of no plans, no work, and just fun. Taking a true day off is something everyone should do! […]

  8. Revanche Says:

    I’m never quite sure if it counts as relaxation if I’m taking a chunk of the day to “do whatever I want” which can include doing chores because it’s satisfying to hear the laundry going while I poke around the internets, reading blogs, writing posts, answering emails, etc. It’s doing stuff that is needful, sort of, but it’s also stuff that I’m in the mood to do.

    Ok, so it’s not true-and-real relaxation of the kind that gives your brain a break, but it’s also not tension-filled scheduled time either.

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