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When you work for yourself taking any time off is challenging. When you’re a travel writer, even your vacations error more on the work side. If you want to stay afloat, you inevitably have to work a few hours on weekends to allow you that flexibility during the week. Isn’t this why you decided to make this career shift, I frequently ask myself? With school back in swing, it’s tempting to think I’ll get my weekends back. Then the first two weeks of school hit and I realized, I probably won’t. And that’s OK. Reading Laura Vanderkam’s book: I Know How She Does It, has helped me put perspective on how I use my time and how to better employ it.
With Eve at school, one would think I’d get 6-hours a day to myself. Reality is, she didn’t start school until a Tuesday and the following Monday was Labour Day. Two weeks from now she has another day off for “goal setting”, plus every Friday is a half day at her school.
These first two weeks I had three and a half days to myself to work, but that only amounted to 21 hours. Considering I had been gone much of the summer and had several non-work appointments to fit in (dentist, chiropractor, hairdresser, etc…), it was apparent I needed to nab some extra time somewhere. Enter the weekend.
Working on weekends
I know it’s not sexy to work on weekends, but it works for me. My husband is home and can help with childcare. He can even cook (and clean up!) a meal or two. The trick is not to work the entire weekend, because everybody needs a break. But in North America, we have a lot of leisure time. We have a lot more time than we think, actually.
Take last weekend for example. We were out in Canmore where we have a condo. I really like trying out new recipes, so I packed a few cookbooks and ingredients I don’t normally keep on hand out there. I also loaded up on my favourite travel magazines, so I’d be pumped to start writing after reading these well crafted articles. Eve’s friend came over for a play date, the huz was keen to putter around the house and I excused myself to pound out some prose.
I ended up working a little under four hours, split up into three shifts. (This is equivalent to an average work day for me when I go to the gym.) While I could categorize this as I work day, I also had a lot of time (10 more waking hours!) for fun stuff. I spent two hours at the pool with my daughter. I went for a long dog walk. I made soup from scratch and tried out a new recipe for quinoa granola. We watched a family movie together and I read my daughter a chapter of Pride and Prejudice (the abridge version). And because I tracked my time, I could tell I frittered away a total of 45 minutes doing not much of anything at all.
The next day, I didn’t work quite as long, but I still logged just under three hours. Instead of driving to the coffee shop where I like to work, I rode my bike there and back, which counted as a workout. I also managed to get a grocery trip in, had quiet time with Eve, spend 45-minutes doing fun shopping by myself and made it to hot yoga.
I could look at that weekend and see that I worked several hours every day. Or I could choose to look at how I spent my time differently. Yes, I worked, but there was also a lot of me time, family time, exercise time and household tasks fit in. When I rethink my weekends and lose the social perception of what they should or shouldn’t be, I’m better balanced. I’m more set up for the week ahead and if something arises – like a volunteer opportunity at Eve’s school, I know I can take advantage of these flex hours and make up the time later.
Certainly, my goal is to get everything done that I need to during the week. An ideal situation would be taking the entire weekend off. I now accept that’s going to be the exception more than the rule and I think I’ve finally come to terms with that.
How do you feel about working weekends? Do you have any tips to make it seem less onerous?