In the book Stumbling on Happiness (2006), author Daniel Gilbert writes, “The greatest achievement of the human brain is its ability to imagine objects and episodes that do not exist in the realm of the real.” Simply put, anticipation accounts for a huge chunk of happiness, which comes from thinking about the events we plan. That said, planning ahead actually makes your weekends happier.
Come Friday night, you’re thinking of the many things you’ve got to do over the weekend that you end up doing almost none of them. Making a list of the things you dream of doing on your days off is essential when you want to take control and make the most of your weekend.
Take this time to slow things down and indulge in what you love most. Whether it’s spending time alone, or with your husband or with the kids, remember that the weekends are there to help you recharge and gear up for the week ahead. So keep your chores to a minimum and take notes on how you can achieve your best weekend yet.
9 p.m.: Have a fancy night in
No matter who’s home first, resolve to put the kids to bed early on Friday night. Admittedly, Friday night dates with the husband may seem too taxing, especially after a long day at work. So the idea here is to take the dinner date home to you. Not only do you get to unwind with your favorite glass of wine, this is also a romantic way to spend the evening with your man. Forget cooking and doing the dishes, order in your favorite dishes and simply revel in each other’s company.
7a.m.: Do the deed
Waking up at 7 a.m. to have sex is a lot more pleasurable than waking up to the sound of your blaring alarm clock. Plus, it’s scientifically proven that people who start their day by having sex are healthier and happier than those who don’t. “Having sex in the morning releases the feel-good chemical oxytocin, which makes couples feel loving and bonded all day long,” says Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., author of Because It Feels Good. Apart from the post-coital glow, morning sex can strengthen your immune system for the day and even improve the tone and texture of your skin and hair.
9 a.m.: Make breakfast with the kids
Establish small habits to create new traditions for your family. It could be as simple as making pancakes for breakfast. Whatever you’d like to do, make it a ritual. Soon they will become traditions that turn into comforting memories, which are proven to boost happiness.
11 a.m.: Hit the mall
Take a trip to the mall for some retail therapy because you deserve it. Shopping for 41 minutes burns 100 calories, so you do the math. Apart from shopping, get a manicure and a pedicure or even a blowout. Studies show that women who get their hair done at the salon are often more confident than those who don’t.
2 p.m.: Take up a hobby
During the week, you’re often too burnt out to get started on the things you’ve always wanted to do. It’s never too late to pick up a hobby and indulge in more artistic pursuits in your off-hours that provide learning opportunities and strengthen skills you don’t often employ in your work environment.
4 p.m.: Catch up with your friends
Even just through e-mail or Facebook, catching up with long-time friends and family is a great way to clear your mind off work. Share stories, photos and videos. According to Aymee Coget, Ph.D., a San Francisco-based expert in positive psychology, “Women especially benefit from bonding with loved ones, because they’re inherently nurturing.” Plus, e-mailing for about an hour burns 100 calories. Not bad for some afternoon chika.
7 p.m.: Make Saturday your fun day
Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” may have been your anthem in the 1980s, but the lyrics of the song still hold true. Host a fun cocktail hour at your home or take a trip to that new restaurant/bar/lounge/café because even mom wants to let her hair down and let loose.
8 a.m.: Visit a weekend market
Get to know your local community and head to the park to shop for fresh produce and a whole lot of food tasting (eating). Take your kids with you and turn the trip into a Sunday picnic. Make this another one of your family traditions that your kids can look forward to every week.
11 a.m.: Unplug
After a tiring morning out with your family, set aside specific hours of down time and turn off your phone (or any mobile device for that matter). It’s important to schedule this because otherwise you may never unplug. Take a siesta or pick up a book and indulge in literary brain food. Let this be your escape from the real world even for just a couple of hours.
2 p.m.: Do your waistline a favor
If you find it hard to squeeze exercise into your work week, a weekend boot camp might be in order. Training outdoors in a group with a fitness trainer will help motivate you to pull up your way to a fit and hot bod.
4 p.m.: Watch a movie with the kids
Gather your family in the TV room and unwind with a DVD marathon of the kids’ choice. Sometimes a good release is also taking time to be with your kids and doing what they love to do. Snuggle up on the couch or on the bed with a bowl of popcorn. The kids will appreciate this the most because mom and dad are taking time out of their busy schedules to simply have fun and enjoy the weekend with them.
6 p.m.: Join a yoga class
Don’t sit around on Sunday night stressing about your job. Schedule something like a yoga class to focus on this extended weekend activity rather than on the work that awaits you on Monday morning.
10 p.m.: Get some sleep
Research says getting enough sleep (eight hours) makes you less likely to snack. So when your alarm sounds in the morning, you are fully rested, completely recharged, and ready to face whatever the week throws at you. So who’s ready for Monday? You sure are.
This story was published in Working Mom’s May 2015 issue and was authored by Ria Gamboa. Working Mom is available in all leading bookstores. Like Working Mom on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WorkingMom.Magazine) and follow them on Twitter and Instagram (@workingmommag).