Thirteen Wonderful Weekend Wind-Downs



If you’re like me, your weekdays are incredibly full. But if you’re NOT like me, and don’t travel every weekend to work, then you have a couple of days to wind down.

Folks tend to let weekends become same old same old – same chores, same television, same family duties. The year whips by and you find that this year was no different than any other as far as weekends are concerned.   But weekends, if you work Monday through Friday, should be time for you to do a little exploring, and mark the time differently.

Here are thirteen “weekend wind-down” ideas for you. Choose one and see if making your weekend a bit out of the ordinary doesn’t perk up the days that follow!

No Electronics Day   Make it a point to say “no” to social media, computer nonsense, or being glued to your Smartphone (and that includes answering it). You will be amazed at the siren calls they make, but stay strong! If you can do it, even avoid the television or radio. This is a way to reconnect with who you are, where you are and what is around you. A study by psychologists at Iowa State University found that kids who exceeded the recommended two hours per day of screen time were two times more likely to have attention problems in the classroom.   And it’s not just kids — the more electronically plugged-in we are, the more our brainwaves change and the harder it is for our attention spans to remain focused.

For this weekend wind-down, listen to music, but make it of your own choosing. Connect with people (and gently ask them to put away their Smartphones so you have each other’s full attention). Work on a project and leave the world to handle its own electronic buzz. How much more relaxed do you feel at the end of your day? What has changed with granting yourself permission to be unplugged?

Angel Action Day This is a day for you to reconnect with the world. Maybe it’s something like volunteering at your church or temple or mosque.   Maybe it’s something like researching a nonprofit group to see if you’d like to be part of what they are doing. Maybe it’s thinking about the good things that have been done for you and paying it forward (pay the bridge toll for the car behind you; leave a kind note on a stranger’s car). Maybe it’s buying an extra sandwich and a drink and sitting with a homeless person as you eat together.   Maybe it’s asking an elderly neighbor if they need to go shopping or have something repaired in their house. Maybe it’s contacting with someone marginalized (a same-gender neighbor, a Muslim colleague) and simply sitting and opening your hands and ears and heart to find out how to make kind and compassionate connection.

We have less and less contact with other human beings these days. We tend to cluster with those who believe as we do (red state/blue state/conservative/liberal/pro-choice/pro-life). We tend to stay with those in our own economic bracket. In our efforts to make sense of the world, we cling to what we know.

Make this a weekend wind-down where your reaching out opens your world, your mind, and your heart. Be the angel that creates even a tiny miracle, and feel your wings stretch, grow, and glow.

You’re Allowed To Fail Day Today do something completely outrageous and fail magnificently if you need to! Our whole work lives are spent “not failing” – not disappointing a boss, a client, our own expectations of ourselves. We spend the rest of our time making sure we’re not disappointing children, spouses, family members, friends. We spend too much damned time on perfection! As a result, often we won’t try anything new because we have forgotten that failure is only a rerouted opportunity.

For this weekend wind-down, find something you have always wanted to try: decoupage, belly dancing, gymnastics, French cooking, algebra.   Spend a generous amount of time this weekend with an instruction book, a simple project kit, or a DVD for beginners. You may not get everything the first time out. It may even be difficult. But there’s no reason not to keep trying. Trying, failing and trying again reminds us that there is always room for change, always room for getting better, and always room for something to NOT MATTER so much that failure is a cudgel to beat ourselves with, rather than just a chance to reboot and play until we’re content.

Lock Yourself Away Day This is a day when you are indulgent, and you insist on it. Stay in your pajamas if you like. No makeup, no fancying up, no making sure you’re “properly presentable” unless that’s how you are most comfortable.   Watch every Harry Potter movie. Catch up on the adventures of your favorite Doctor from Gallifrey. Knit the afghan that’s been languishing in your closet. Pull out that short story you’ve had in your bottom drawer waiting for the right time to tackle it. Heck, stay in bed until noon, if that’s your pleasure!

Today is the day you are answerable to nobody. If you have a spouse, enlist them in the effort; the kids are theirs today.   Spouse unavailable? See if a friend can help out – you’ll return the favor in the future (pay it back and pay it forward).   And if you are finding it impossible to do, that’s a bit of a red-light alarm: why is your life so crowded that you feel you are that indispensable? If a bus hit you, you’d be instantly out of action and they’d all cope. So don’t let the “nobody has time and I don’t either” excuse derail you. Find a way, during this weekend wind-down, to listen to yourself FIRST.

Date Your Favorite Book Day I know a woman whose only place to read is in the bathroom. For many of us, gone are the days when we could curl up with our favorite volume and read to our heart’s content. (My mother used to love to tuck herself under a tree with an apple, a box of graham crackers, and a big thick book.) So this weekend, make a date with a favorite volume. Or go to the library or the local bookstore and choose something luscious and new. And then make time to indulge.

Try, if you can, to not make it a “have to” book – one that tells you what’s wrong with you (“Diet this way!” “Exercise or die, we’ll tell you why!”), or a book that you have to read for work or school. How would you like dating that kind of person? I know I wouldn’t! Make this a book that you would really enjoy, would want to take time to savor, and brings your mind to different places than what’s next on your agenda.

During this weekend wind-down, f you have a favorite place to read, try to go there. If you think you can’t read at home because too much competes for your attention, go to a library, or a coffee shop. Or take your car and go drive somewhere quiet! Just make sure that you take time to have a good date with the words you love.

Visit Another Planet Day Even on weekends, we often don’t break routine. Our world still revolves around the same places, faces and energies. This weekend, go find another planet! And it doesn’t take a rocket ship either. Get in the car and go in a direction you never go – if it’s always east into the nearest city, take another direction and drive somewhere you’ve never been. Take the time to explore, savor, and meet new people.

Don’t have a car? Take a bus! Or walk if you can. The object is to break out of the usual parameters and boundaries we give ourselves, which invariably numb us out to new experiences and dulls our observation muscles. These days, we are too insular as it is – we talk to folks who believe the way we do, lean politically the way we do, eat and dress and think the way we do.   And that’s one of the reasons we feel so alienated even in our own backyard.

For this weekend wind-down, go visit another planet. And bring back some interesting postcards.

Indulge in the Season Day  When our lives are so circumscribed by work, chores, responsibilities and stress, we glance out the window in January, March, September — and in December we look up, startled, and wonder where the year went. We didn’t make time to acknowledge the seasons except for how much the air conditioning bill went up or if the kids need new winter coats. And to be honest, with climate change rearing its head, who knows how long the seasons as we know them will bring us the same traditional joys?

This weekend, get out and be Seasonal.

  • Look for new growth, the first flowers.
  • Smell the difference in the air.
  • Notice the change in the sunlight angle from winter.
  • Cheer the first peepers.
  • Celebrate the new leaves.
  • Rejoice in the first rumble of thunder.
  • Welcome back the birds.
  • Make time for a picnic.
  • Play in the park.
  • Dip your toes in the nearest water (ocean, lake or water park).
  • Indulge in summer fruits and vegetables.
  • Watch the leaves begin to take on fall colors.
  • Visit a farmer’s market.
  • Feel the crispness in the air.
  • Notice that the sun angle is changing again.
  • Watch the wildlife get ready for winter.
  • Wave goodbye as the birds migrate.
  • Notice the constellations changing.
  • Listen to the silence of the winter night after the summer crickets.
  • Make snow angels.

Being alive to the season you’re in makes you alive to life itself. We are creatures of seasons – the spring of childhood, the summer of young adulthood, the fall of empty-nesters, the winter of the elder states(wo)man. To ignore them is to ignore our own lives, the passing of our own days and epochs. And when you look back, startled, at decades you missed because you were too busy on the daily treadmill, you can’t get them back.

Before things became so industrialized, the seasons were our clock, our calendar, and our reassurance that the world was ticking on. And sometimes it’s good to put aside the watch and the digitals, and remember what brought us the ability to notice life and time in the first place.  This weekend wind-down idea is a perfect place to harvest that kind of inner knowledge.

Learn A Little Self-Care Day One of the things I’ve noticed is all the self-care advice I’m seeing on the web. But sometimes we can’t afford to get a massage, or buy ourselves a cashmere sweater, or there isn’t a Reiki master or reflexologist anywhere around.   Maybe we don’t even know what would take care of us because we never took time to figure it out!

This weekend, learn a little self care.

  • There are pressure points on the hands and feet that a reflexologist knows, sure – but you can learn them yourself, whether it’s as simple as a point on the hand to help relieve a headache or a place to massage your foot that relieves monthly cramps.
  • You don’t need a sensory deprivation tank to let go: turn down the lights, get comfortable sitting or lying down, and learn a little controlled breathing… feel what it is like to breathe deeply, unhurriedly, feeling the oxygen feed your body and soul.
  • Give your skin an “I love you” present of a steam tent and masque: put your head over a bowl of boiling water and tent a towel over it to open up the pores; look up which herbs are especially good for them. You can give yourself a facial mask out of household ingredients (cheaper and with fewer toxins in the preparation than that ooh-la-la pricey spa!); do a little research and find a recipe you like, and try it out.
  • Fancy a little aromatherapy? Try putting some cinnamon, or lemon, or vanilla in a pot on the stove and let it perfume the house.

There are so many ways we can take care of that person in the mirror and tell them that we love them and want the weekend wind-down to be just that little bit better for them. And believe me, they will thank you for it.

Dump It Day Ready to lighten your load? This is your weekend! You are going to go through your house and be ruthless and relentless about Dumping Stuff!

Start with the kitchen: get rid of everything that is outdated…herbs you can’t recognize that aren’t labeled… questionable denizens of the refrigerator… half boxes of foods you tried and you simply don’t like.   Get rid of the cracked plates, the busted cups, the too-man-to-count plastic tubs you’re saving in case you need them.

Hit the rest of the house: dump the magazines you’ve never read, or haven’t picked up in a year. Go through the drawers that are magnets for I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-this and de-clutter them. Get rid of worn-out shoes, frayed shirts, tattered t-shirts, and the clothing that was you ten years ago but you’ll never wear now, even if you fit them. Get rid of the white-elephant gifts you’ve kept in case the giver comes over, the toys that the kids (two-leggers and four-leggers both) no longer play with, the bits and bobs and scraps that used to have a purpose but don’t any more. Throw out what nobody would want, donate what someone else could use. But remember that the Universe hates a vacuum, and when you get rid of what doesn’t support you It has room to send you something new and wonderful.

And if there isn’t that much you needed to dump physically – or you still have energy left – sit down and write yourself a dump list. We’ve all had things we wanted to do that never got done, whether it’s a wish from high school or something we thought about two years ago, and it goes on our list of “do it.”   But maybe your tastes have changed, or your goals, or your interests. Time to get them off the list! Write down everything you have wanted to do, from speak German to visit every state in the Union to learn to crochet to run for political office. Every bit of it. And look at each one clearly and ask yourself, “In the time I have left in my life, do I want to devote time to this?” And if it’s no, CROSS IT OFF. Without guilt. And spend time on a shorter, but much more valuable “WANT to do” list.  You’ll have more weekend wind-down time when you do!

Write Yourself a Letter Day Lots of people do Christmas letters – tucked inside the holiday card, it shares what the year has been like, what they’ve done, the milestones they’ve accomplished, the life changes that have arrived to be dealt with. It’s a way we can connect with people we care about but don’t talk with very often.

This weekend, write yourself one of those kinds of letters. But not a litany of what’s gone wrong; make it a paean to what went right. And it doesn’t have to be about a year in particular – you can write the letter you would to a long-lost friend who’s back in your life.  We’ve all see those memes about “what would you tell your six-year-old self.” This is your chance to do it. Whether it’s your six, or sixteen or thirty six-year-old self who needs to know how brave and strong and funny and creative and resilient you are – whether it’s news about babies or bachelor’s degrees or simply finding yourself older than you ever expected – write the letter. Give yourself credit for getting through defeats, for changing your mind instead of being stubborn when circumstances called for it, for saying yes when you meant it and no when you meant it and surprising everyone who thought you couldn’t do something.   Let your past self know how your current self is doing, and take pride in every accomplishment that says, “I’ve lived, and done my best, and I’m truly, honestly okay.”

Nature Day For this weekend wind-down, make it a day to get outdoors – and stay there. Find every single reason you can to be outdoors. We’re hermetically sealed in our buildings most of the time, but nature is just begging us to come out and play.

  • If the weather is warm, find an outdoor café for lunch.
  • If it’s cold, bundle up and take a walk in the woods.
  • If it’s sunny, love feeling the warmth on your face.
  • If it’s raining or snowing, go jump in a puddle or make snow angels!
  • Find your local hiking or biking trail and get a little exercise.
  • Visit a zoo, or a botanical or butterfly garden.
  • PLANT a garden — flowers or vegetables or simply a plot of catnip for your neighborhood furry folk.
  • Go to a pick-it-yourself farm and experience the magic of biting into an apple or a peach or a strawberry that went to you directly from the vine or the branch by your own hand.
  • Build a bonfire and watch the sparks dance and the flames roar in the twilight.
  • If there’s a local farm, drive by and watch the goats and cows. (Maybe even moo to the cows – you know we all do it.)
  • Build a bird feeding station.
  • Take a picnic and just be in nature.

You’ll find that once you spend a weekend with Nature it becomes something you crave. And more time in nature will help keep you balanced, and aware of your part in the Circle of Life.

Home Town Tourist Day   I guarantee you, the vast majority of people who live in big cities NEVER do the touristy things. Whether it’s New York City of New Orleans, San Francisco or San Antonio, Philadelphia or Portland — your city is known for certain things all over the world (the Statue of Liberty, Bourbon Street, Washington Park, the Golden Gate Bridge). And most of the locals PRIDE themselves on never going there. Is it pride in being a native? Touristy things aren’t cool? No matter the reason, it probably isn’t one that holds up under scrutiny. So be a tourist for the day. Go to all the top tourist spots in your locale and really take them in like you ARE a tourist. Do the bus tours, take the maps, and let yourself explore these oh-so-familiar icons with brand new eyes. If you have a friend from out of town who has never done these things, bring them along! You will probably find yourself amazed at everything you DON’T know about these institutions, and just might discover something really cool along the way that grabs your attention for more than just this weekend wind-down.

And yes, by all means – take the touristy pictures.

Weekend Wonder Jar Day The past few weeks we’ve given you ideas for fun Weekend Wind-downs that will relax and expand you. But we’re not you! So this weekend spend some time thinking about what you would like to do if you had a weekend free – or even just a weekend day. Examples might be “go to the local science museum,” “spend the day researching quilting patterns,” “make a special dinner for two/family dinner,” “plan a party,” “build a house for the outdoor cats,” “take a class,” “go for a glider ride” – the personal possibilities are endless! Write each one on a separate slip of paper, fold it up and pop it in one of you favorite jars. (I happen to think that Mason jars were MADE for this.) Then, when you have a weekend that is unplanned, but you want to do SOMETHING, reach into your jar and see what the Universe has in mind for you!