What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I used to dread the work week -- and the weekend.
After spending years working in the restaurant industry where weekends didn’t mean much and time off was different every week, I entered office culture. For years, I had been craving a “regular” schedule, time off when my friends weren’t working, and the routine that came with a 9-5 job.
But once I had it, within a few months I hated it.
The job itself was pretty good. There was a lot of responsibility even though there was too much work for the hours. I often stayed late at work -- but I believed in what I was doing so I didn’t really begrudge the extra time.
It did mean that I was concentrating on work and not on my own life though.
And it didn’t change the fact that all week, I longed for the weekend.
Then I spent the weekend crashed out on the couch in my pjs.
But by Saturday night, I was dreading the start of the week already. Sundays were spent trying not to think about the fact that tomorrow was Monday already.
It wasn’t that I dreaded work exactly. It’s more that I was dreading the crazy busyness of life, of trying to squeeze work and life in.
During the week, I’d rush to work, get through as much as I could, freak out because I had nothing in the house to make for dinner, dash to the store to pick up a few items, race home as fast as traffic would allow, make the quickest and easiest meal possible, and eat on the couch in front of the TV. I’d be worried about when I was going to make time to do all the things that needed to be done.
It was driving me crazy.
And then, somewhere, I finally came across enough blogs on being organized and making life simpler. (Trust me, I wasn’t looking for them, they just appeared in my Facebook feed. And everywhere else.)
Most of the advice was just too extreme for me. Who takes an entire day and makes all their meals for a month to put in the freezer? Certainly not me. How am I going to know what I want to eat for the entire month?
But I did take away a few key things and this is how I changed my cycle of dread.
Buy groceries -- once.
I used to stop for groceries nearly every night that I cooked. I didn’t keep much in the house to work with, so if I wanted to cook, I had to shop. If I was too lazy to stop at the store, I’d get takeout. It added nearly an hour to the time it took to get home!
Now, I shop once and get enough for the entire week.
I’ve gotten much better at keeping staple items in the house (pasta, rice, sauces, etc) and knowing what I have and what I need to buy each week. I also get enough fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy to last the whole week.
I don’t make a weekly meal chart. I just know the basic foods that we like to eat and keep them on hand to create what we like when we feel like them.
I often make this shopping trip early on in the weekend to get it done and out of the way. Other times, on a busy weekend, I’ve had to wait until Monday night to do it. But one way or the other, I do my absolute best to only shop once.
I think it’s saved us money too, since I’m not constantly buying convenience food and we’re eating takeaway less.
Prep groceries right away.
You know how it is -- you get home from getting groceries and you throw it all in cupboards, fridge or freezer and forget about it. You’re tired, you’re annoyed with shopping and you don’t want to think about it anymore.
I stopped doing that and it’s made my weeks so much easier.
These days, I wash all the fruit and vegetables as soon as I get home. If I’ve bought things like pineapple that need to be cut up in order to eat it, I do that right away. If meat isn’t already packed in serving sizes, I repackage it before freezing it. If I’m energetic, I often slice up vegetables for quick packed lunches, too.
It seems stupid, but it saves time and hassle when I’m tired after a long day of work. I don’t have to try to claw apart pork chops that are frozen together. I no longer grab the “easy” but not so healthy snack options because it’s easier than washing or chopping up fruit.
I know that some people go so far as to slice vegetables into appropriate sizes for the meals that they’re planning for the entire week, but I’ve never been quite that organized. I find that the prep that I do is enough for me. But everyone is different, so you might need more or less prep to take pressure off your work week.
Take time to enjoy.
I had to sit back and think about what it is that recharges me and gets me ready for a great week. In the end, I realized a few things. I need solo time. I also need time with close friends, family and my partner. And I like to be pampered.
So I make sure that I get some of these things each weekend. I don’t get everything that I want every weekend, but I think I do a pretty good job of taking care of me these days.
I give myself a pedicure. (For a special treat, once in awhile, I go to a spa with a friend.) I curl up on the couch with a good book for a few hours. And I spend time chilling out with friends, visit my family or go on date night with my partner. I learned to take time outside to enjoy the flowers and the sunset instead of huddling on the couch in my pjs.
I stopped concentrating on my dread of the coming week and started actively avoiding the thought of it by being proactive on activities that I enjoy and that recharge me. By stocking up the house with food and other essentials, I no longer run around like a mad woman after work, and I can enjoy work and a much more chilled home life.
And, yeah, I sometimes still think “it’s going to be a long week” on Sunday night.
But it’s not that overwhelming dread that I used to feel. It’s now based on the fact that my job is going to be busy. But I know that my after work life is in the best shape it can be in.
What do you do to get ready for the upcoming week? Tell me about it in the comments.