Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How I Make the Most of Busy Weekday/Workday Evenings

On a run this week, I thought about how I used to view weekday/workday evenings...

I'm not proud to say that I once referred to it as 'the second shift'. I would come home from work focused on all the work that needed to be done at home. Some days I felt like I was going through motions and I just wanted tasks to be done so I could sit down.

And I couldn't wait for the weekends to come so I could relax. 

Now, I've learned to see beauty in the simplicity of workday/weekday evening routines. Weekends are wonderful, but it is possible to make weekday/workday evenings not hectic and stressful, but peaceful and pleasant times together as family. Here are some things that work well for my son and I!

1. Unplugging and getting outside

These days, 'unplugging' is an essential part of our evening routine. I've written many times about the importance of being present and being in the moment. I have made a habit of no longer looking at social networking sites from my phone during workday/weekday evenings. I might view these sites in the mornings before I leave for work, but I find it is easier to be in the moment and fully present if I am not looking at my phone during evening hours. 

Time in nature is so important to our health and well being. Disconnecting from technology and immersing myself in nature, even only for a few moments, rejuvenates me after a long busy day at work!

2. Plant a garden

There is something so rewarding about growing your own food! But it is a lot of work! By splitting it into smaller jobs to be done daily or every other day, it is more easily manageable to work full-time and also maintain a garden. And there is a tremendous sense of peace, for me, in having my hands in the dirt after a long day of work!

A garden is also a great way to get children away from television or video games and also eating healthier foods. I find that my son is much more likely to eat foods that he planted, grew, and tended himself than if I simply purchase these items at the market. I never required him to work in the garden, but would occasionally ask his assistance when I was busy tending some part of it. It was easy for me to watch him play outside if I was in the garden, and I find children are inherently curious about things adults are doing and in time will want to help. I'm pleased to say this is how it has unfolded for us! The garden is a big part of our lives.

3. Find an exercise you enjoy and can easily fit into your evenings

I discovered running about a year ago, and have been practicing yoga for many years. These activities help me to feel healthy and strong, and I tend to alternate between each depending on the weather and how I feel. Because evening hours can be busy after long work days, I keep my runs and yoga routines shorter than what I might do on weekends - just enough to feel the benefits of regular exercise! And running has an extra plus, just like gardening - more time outdoors!

4. A bit of spontaneity makes a weekday/workday evening more fun

A visit from a friend, making an apple pie, visiting grandparents, or just going out to dinner...all of these things can add a new dimension to a weekday/workday evening! Instead of pressuring myself to have certain things done on certain days as I did in the past, I leave room to be spontaneous. Weekday/workday evenings should be as enjoyable as weekends! 

5. Find simple, flexible routines that work for you and your family

Doing homework immediately upon arriving home just did not work well for us. Neither of us wanted to come in and focus on schoolwork right away. So now, my son does his homework while I am tidying up the kitchen after dinner. This way I am close by and can answer questions or lend a hand. I also have found that keeping extracurricular activities, like classes I am taking or sports my son is participating in, to a minimum - one activity at a time, and no more than two evenings a week - help keep the weekday/workday busy evening burnout away!

6. Have something that you authentically enjoy to close your day with

A cup of evening coffee and good book...these are a perfect close of the day for me!

A knitting project works, too! 

I used to try and accomplish many things in the evening that were not always my authentic interests. My motivations for these projects were based on a feeling of always needing to be working towards some grand goal that would bring some sense of accomplishment to the day. Now, I find joy in the simple routines of the day and do not need grand goals to constantly be striving towards, only joy. I'm very grateful for this magical, wonderful life that we have and I am grateful to be able to close a day doing something I love!

There are so many ways to make workday/weekday evening routines less stressful and more meaningful, and I'll write more on this subject soon. The weekend is just around the corner, and I'm looking very forward to The Rabon Creek Farm Fresh Fair on Saturday and my mother's birthday celebration on Sunday! I'm sure there will be posts on both events, as well as on the change of seasons. Autumn is my favorite season and it is shaping up to be a beautiful one here in South Carolina!

Happy Thursday, all! 

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