Modern life is built around the working week, with many of us dreaming of when Friday rolls around. However, due to the coronavirus, it’s hard to define what the weekend should look like… After all, we’re still in our houses, with the same people we’ve seen all week, and with limited options for activity, entertainment and interaction. But keeping the lines between work and play defined is incredibly important – just ask anybody who worked at home before the virus became a part of our lives! Here we share some ideas to help.
Get creative with your space
One of the easiest ways to ensure the weekends don’t blur into the week is to change your environment. We mentioned changing the furniture to allow work and play during our Family Tensions article, but the opposite is also true! Why not turn the seats in the house toward each other, shift tables and chairs into the garden on a sunny day, or even throw some blankets and bean bags on the floor in the living room? In fact, one of the best ways to make a clean break is to change the room the family socialises in. Parent Tim said: “In our house we have a large sofa in the kitchen which converts into a bed for visitors. At the weekend we’ve been opening it out, covering it in blankets and setting up the TV in the kitchen. The kids love it… although it takes some discipline to keep it as a weekend treat as they do ask for it starting around Wednesday!”
Keep in touch
There are several video conferencing apps available for phones, tablets and computers that allow multiple people to call in and share a virtual space at the same time. Using technology like this is a great way to keep groups of friends and family together during this enforced isolation – and may even become a habit once social distancing comes to an end!
The fun starts here
Just because the weekly rhythm has changed, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t still things to look forward to – whether that’s a special dinner you know your children will love or a film you’ve all been wanting to watch.
Try and save these up for the weekend, so that everybody has something to look forward to, and something to look back upon when the working week starts.
It’s surprising how much a fresh take on an old activity can transform it for all involved – even if it’s just “transforming” the front room into a cinema with popcorn, or turning the lights down low (and the music up loud) for an exclusive one-night-only disco!
If it feels like everyone’s seen and done everything before it’s worth remembering that many on-demand video, game and content services also offer free trials – which is a great way to find something fresh that you can all agree on.
Just make sure you set a diary reminder in your phone or on a physical calendar to cancel the service if you no longer want it.
“This is the weekend, and it shouldn’t feel like work!”
Appetite for consumption
Many of us may have associated our weekends with going out to eat or getting a takeaway, and there’s no reason to stop now we’re all homebound. Granted, many takeaways and all pubs are closed at the time of writing, but we can perhaps leave the richer food and beverages in our fridges and store cupboards as a treat for the weekends. Saving up those calories helps you moderate during your weekdays, and makes the treats truly exceptional.
Dress to de-stress
We’ve been told by our staff that a key part of keeping busy and engaged while home working is ensuring you shower and dress properly and, where possible, keep to normal working hours – nobody does their best work in their dressing gown! However, you can consider turning this on its head and relaxing dress codes at the weekend. Younger children especially often love lounging around in their pyjamas all day and this is a no-cost way to ensure everyone can chill out!
Relax some rules For children of all ages, school is often seen as a place of stability and discipline and the weekend represents a chance to relax and let their hair down. And, of course, few of us behave at work exactly as we would at home. Regardless of how our lives look currently you can mimic this change in atmosphere by relaxing some of the rules you usually have during the week when Friday comes. This might mean your children (and you!) get to stay up a little later, play computer games, eat pizza for their dinner – it doesn’t really matter what it is… The idea is to relax the rules enough so a difference is felt.
Take it outside
Depending on the amount of secure outside space you have and the weather where you are, you could even attempt abandoning the house entirely, like parent Matt. He said: “We’ve got a four-man tent that we’ve only used twice since we bought it and it’s nice weather here on Friday, so we’re going to go for it.” “We’re taking binoculars out to look at the stars, and marshmallows which we’re going to toast on a bucket BBQ… It’s for the kids but I’m actually looking forward to it!”. Even if you don’t have outside space you could just camp indoors!
Our Active Families programme uses funding from Sport England to promote families getting out and experiencing the benefits of healthy, outdoor activity. The concept of working more at the weekend might seem wrong, but often physical activity – whether that’s gardening or chopping firewood – fits the criteria, and can be surprisingly therapeutic.
You can even get the kids involved in activities like gardening – although remember to focus on spending time together rather than outcomes… This is the weekend, and it shouldn’t feel like work!
Talk the talk
It’s important to communicate, plan and set goals for yourselves as a family.
Sharing allows you to share and celebrate your achievements, understand everyone’s priorities and get your family’s ideas on what the weekend means to them.
For school-age children a good chat also allows parents to chart their progress through an enormously disruptive time, and ensure their needs are met.
One parent we spoke to said: “My daughter was really sad that there wasn’t going to be ‘Star of the Week’ on Friday at school anymore, so we agreed that during Friday’s dinner that she would lead our ‘Star Moment of the Week’. “This involved everybody sharing something that had made us happy that week and It felt great to share and appreciate our different experiences.”
If you choose to do something this with your family remember that there are no “right” answers.
Anything someone wants to share is important, so ensure that argumentative siblings understand there’s no judgement allowed!
If you’re feeling in need of some support or guidance during the COVID-19 ourbreak, get in touch with our FamilyLine helpline for free.