I often get to Monday morning totally exhausted by my weekend. I don’t know what happened but somewhere along the way (I think when I became a mum) weekends stopped being refreshing for me. They are a chore I need to survive and I have become increasingly dissatisfied with them. Long Saturday afternoons spent reading and watching movies are but a distant memory, and so is the feeling of feeling refreshed and replenished for the Monday return to work. Now weekends are difficult, they go at a frantic 7-year-old pace with lots of bouncing, wriggling, and cartwheels. Mr Seven’s behaviour is always at its most difficult when two parents are present. Saturday and Sundays start at 6.15am and are packed tight with activity and household organisation tasks until I collapse into bed by 9 pm. I find myself longing for the peace, quiet and creativity of my work week.
So I decided to use some of my work tools to apply reflective learning to my weekend, to help me think about what is working and what isn't working. To be able to sit and ponder how I can use my strengths and values at the weekend and in a way that leaves me feeling rested and ready for the week ahead. For a number of years in my personnel development and coaching work, I have been encouraging others to use critical reflection in their work and to set regular rhythms of reflection and evaluation. I have also realised that regular systematic reflection has a lot to offer for reducing self-doubt and building self-confidence too. However last night it suddenly occurred to me that I have never applied the reflective principles that I apply to my work and teach to others to my weekend.
It is interesting that the wellbeing literature suggests that getting to spend at least 80% of your work week using your strengths, contributes to feeling that you have an excellent quality of life. We also talk about the impact on wellbeing and workplace engagement of being able to have work that lets us express our values. Underlying this research about work is the assumption that work is something that we struggle to enjoy and weekends are all fun and enjoyment. To be honest (and I think this may be true for other part-time working mums) this is the opposite way around for me.
I love my work, and really struggle to enjoy my weekends.
Household organisation and physical activity do not let me express my strengths or values. Our time off is just as important, if not more so than our time at work, but sometimes we can be reluctant to apply work principles to our time off. I guess it makes us feel like we are working instead of relaxing and can sap our spontaneity. If we are going to use work tools to help our time off we need to avoid using them to make rules and only use them if they do have positive results
I decided to bring together critical reflection, strengths and values to help me assess my weekends as a first step in finding a way forward to expressing more of my strengths and values. It is also an opportunity to assess the balance between each family member in the opportunities they get over the weekend. To do this I made a simple worksheet which you can see here.
I would love to hear your ideas of how you use your strengths to make weekends more enjoyable.