It’s always around this time of year that I realize the summer has been hanging around for quite a while and I haven’t made the most of it.  During winter months I would dream about warm days at the beach, the kids blissfully catching some Vitamin D, away from their devices and creating memories for later in life.

So, if this is what I dream about – why don’t I act, you ask?  Well, I certainly intend to… and it’s not as though I actively avoid the frivolity.  The best excuse that I have is…. life.

We all look forward to the weekend for the break from work, but also for the opportunities that open with all that free time.  But if you’re like me, those opportunities quickly shrink when you realize how long the to-do list can become.

Firstly, children.  Sports, activities, friends, parties… you name it, they’ve got it on.  I delight in the fact that many things slow down on the school holidays, but that doesn’t mean we have open diaries either.  If you work during the week, this becomes the time to ‘catch up’ on housework, shopping, cooking, paying bills and general tasks that get pushed out during the week due to fatigue.

Weekends are so precious, but all too quickly they can be filled up and waved goodbye … Monday rolls around so quickly.

So how can we make the most of our family time, our free time and our lives with hectic schedules?  Here are 4 ways to ensure you are recharging on your weekends and not filling up every second with schedules and obligations.

  1. Plan ahead. Right now.  Get out your calendar and look for a free day in the next month’s weekends.  Decide what activities your family loves to do but never gets the time for.  Write one of those activities on your calendar, and hey-presto… it’s happening.  Don’t let your weekends pass you by without doing at least one thing that you enjoy.
  2. Create traditions. Even easier than number one, set a recurring date on your calendar.  For example, every first Saturday of the month our family goes to the movies.  Or every last Sunday of the month we ride to the markets for a milkshake.  Whatever is available to you and is enjoyable for you and your family – schedule it.  That way everyone knows not to plan anything else on those days.
  3. Go outside. Not everyone is sporty, but honestly if you can drag your whole family outside, young and old, for part of the weekend it will lift spirits.  Going outside gives us vitamin D and boosts our endorphins, putting everyone is a better mood.  Whether it’s fish and chips by the beach, a walk with the dog or a picnic at the park, make sure to include some outside time in every weekend.
  4. Exercise or make time for you. You might not be the fitness type, and that’s ok.  But in line with number 3, going outside will help you with your mood and energy levels for the weekend.  I make sure that my weekend starts with a Parkrun or a workout of some description.  This makes me feel great and gives me calorie credits for what will come that afternoon (I’m thinking ice-cream!). But if you’re not an active person, swap this with listening to a podcast, reading a book, doing a puzzle… whatever takes your fancy.  Just make sure it fills your bucket and recharges you.

Just like our mobile phones at nighttime, we all need to recharge daily and weekly.  If you have a hectic week ahead, be mindful of making your weekend count.  Don’t say no to invitations on Sunday in anticipation of being tired Monday.  Following the above suggestions should help your head, your heart and your body in preparation for the week.  Enjoy the moments of time out that become available and try not to constantly add to the mental ‘to-do’ list during these times.  One of my favourite sayings is ‘Life is what happens while you’re making plans.’