Take Back Your Saturdays
April Osborn - January 02, 2009
If the idea of a relaxing Saturday sounds foreign to you, you're not alone. Weekends these days can be just as taxing as the rest of the week, if not more so.Remember when the weekend meant taking a break from all of those things you had to do and spending time with your family--going for drives, playing games, and just taking it easy together? Even if you can't, most of us can agree that weekends should be that way. But alas, the days of restful, family-centered weekends seem to be at an end. Facing attacks from school projects, sports practices and games, and an avalanche of chores that seems to build up at an ever-increasing rate during the week, the weekend has become a lot less like a stroll through the park and more like a hundred-meter dash that leaves you breathless and exhausted for Monday morning. With that in mind, here are a few ideas oh how you can take back your weekend. *Treat Time Like Money* Start thinking of time the way you think about money. In a lot of ways, the two are very similar: both are resources you can use however you see fit, and each is in limited supply. But unlike money, which you can often borrow or earn more of, time is the same for everyone: while we all make different amounts of money, we all have the same amount of time to do with as we choose. That being said, as LDS people, our time budget is a little different than that of other people. While most families count the weekend as two full days without major responsibilities, LDS families seldom use Sundays as a "getting things done at home" day. That leaves us with even more incentive to protect our Saturdays and get as much out of them as possible, so feel free to be picky when deciding what invitations you will accept and which activities your kids will participate in on these precious weekend days. Assess your weekly time budget and decide where you can make cuts, and where you can make better use of your time (that includes being picky about which invitations you will accept and which activities your kids will participate in on Saturdays). *Cleaning House* Everyone enjoys a clean home, even if it doesn't seem that way. So spending a fair amount of time taking care of the house is something everyone appreciates. We just have a hard time doing it when we're thinking of everything else that has to get done. The easiest way of keeping the house clean and avoiding weekend-consuming cleaning projects is to put those everyday chores on everyone's to-do list, every day. If everyone is responsible for one or two household chores each day, then you'll find yourself with a lot less to do on the weekend. For example, things like laundry can be done in a couple of small bursts during the week instead of an all-day Saturday project. To make it even quicker, give each family member three mesh bags for their dirty clothes (one for darks, one for lights, and one for whites) so that you won't have to sort when it's time to wash. And to make cleaning a little more fun, make a chore jar. Write different 15-30 minute chores on strips of paper and put them in a jar in the kitchen (or another common area). When anyone finds themselves with a little extra time, pull out a strip and get to work. This will save you the time you might spend deciding which of all the multitude of tasks to complete. *Yard Work* Much like housework, yard work is something that everyone wants done but few think to do when time is available. Tackle this one just like you do housework. Make one or two people responsible for doing small chores in the yard throughout the week and avoid having to do the lawn, the weeding, and the trimming all in one day. Or, perhaps it's time to consider hiring a lawn care service. Yes, it will cost you money, but it may be worth the time you save. A less expensive option may be hiring a young man or young woman in your ward to mow the lawn once a week. Either way, turning over the lawn care to someone else can be a huge stress reliever and a big time saver. *Shopping* Last-minute shopping trips can suck a lot of time out of your schedule, and they can also mean big bucks. If you have to run to the store to get something at the last minute, you're much less likely to be price-conscious about it. The urgency of the moment overshadows the logic of paying more for something than what it's usually worth. Plan out dinner menus ahead of time and try to do your shopping on a weekday when stores are less crowded. Shopping from a list will also save you the time it would take to go up and down every aisle deciding what you need. Planning ahead is the best way to make your trips cheaper and more effective. Another way to cut down on shopping time, and to make sure you don't buy anything you don't need, is to try online shopping. Many major grocery store chains (including Vons, Albertsons, and Safeway) now make it possible to do your shopping from home. They'll even let you save shopping lists to make your next online shopping excursion faster. Most grocery stores offer next-day delivery, although sites that are online-based take longer, and you can choose a time-slot when you'd like your groceries delivered. The drawbacks? The time-lapse means you'll have to do your shopping at least twenty-four hours before you're ready to cook, and you'll also be charged a fee for delivery (usually between five and ten dollars). By dividing up work time throughout the week, you'll find time to enjoy the weekend doing things you love with the people you love. And isn't that how a Saturday should be? _more about lawns . . ._ *The Grass Isn't Always Greener* The traditional lawn is seen as a staple for many, but in reality, these green monsters are huge guzzlers of time and money. Here are a few of the stats: * Lawns require 580 million gallons of gasoline every year * Lawns also eat at least 40 hours of our weekend each year for mowing alone * Nationwide, lawns sop up $750 million on pesticides and herbicides, which also kill off beneficial insects like bees and butterflies and decrease the number of earthworms aerating the soil. * It costs an average homeowner $457 per year to maintain their lawn But don't worry. There are more cost-effective options for landscaping your yard. Try converting some of your lawn to native plants, clover, or a rock garden. Here are some low-maintenance ground coverings that will help you take back your weekend, and save some money at the same time. * Succulents: e.g., hens and chicks, aloe, autumn joy sedum or stonecrop * Ornamental Grasses: e.g., purple fountain grass, yellow pampas grass, Mexican feather grass, blue oat grass * Wildflowers native to your area. * Four-leaf Clover: really; it stays green through droughts and doesn't need to be mowed nearly as often as lawn grass. If you just can't find it in your heart to get rid of a large lawn, make sure to follow these steps to make it as easy as possible on your watch and wallet. * Mulch your grass clippings (this will save you time emptying bags and fertilizing). * Don't over fertilize (once or twice per season should be enough). * Invest in an automatic irrigation system that will use less water and take care of itself. * Level out your lawn. Uneven lawns take more time to mow, so raise any dips and remove any humps to make your job easier. * Consider investing in a commercial lawnmower that will get the job done more quickly. * Maintain all of your equipment to reduce pollution and save the money that you may otherwise have to spend on big repairs.
© LDS Living, Jan/Feb 2009