Thank God it’s Friday.
Or, so goes the common saying repeated around workplaces everywhere like a weekly mantra. It's a reminder that the end is in sight — there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The sentiment seems to be something along the lines of: whatever happens today, we can make it through, because there’s a Friday-night Netflix binge awaiting us after work.
When I hear those words today, though, I just nod and smile — then go back to checking emails. Weekends don’t exist for working moms like me.
Sure, I go home on Friday evening and don’t return to work until Monday morning. But my Friday Netflix binges are punctuated with the cry of a baby who won’t sleep. My Saturday lie-ins might last an extra 10 minutes past my usual wake-up time. And Sunday brunch? If it happens, it happens with a stroller and a diaper bag in tow.
The weekend serves a different purpose for parents who spend the week at the office. A weekend for me and for my partner, who also works, means catching up on all the chores that fell by the wayside Monday through Friday.
Go grocery shopping. Clean the house. Drop the car off for an oil change. Rake the leaves that have been piling up for days, or shovel the snow gathering in drifts on the sidewalk. Run four loads of laundry in quick succession.
You get the picture.
In addition to all of these tedious chores, I feel heightened pressure on Saturday and Sunday to perform for my child. I send her to daycare during the week, so I overextend myself on the weekend, attempting to make up for lost time together.
Spend a few hours at the zoo. Read a book to her. Take her to the park. Snap a photo of her on the slide. Teach her the alphabet song. Break out in a spontaneous dance party. Cuddle before bed.
It’s not that spending time with my daughter is a chore — though let’s be real, occasionally even the most dedicated parents need alone time — but in my efforts to restore mother-child bonding time, I stir up these unrealistic to-do lists that only heap more stress on days that should be reserved for relaxation.
As a result, there have been weekends when Monday arrived like a breath of fresh air, like a welcome break from my exhaustion at home.
But I’m learning to manage the stress and to cope with busy weekends as a working mom. Here are a few ways I like to preserve my leisure time on the weekend:
1. Take alone time in turns.
I can’t spend the whole weekend relaxing anymore, but I can alternate with my partner and retreat to the bedroom for breaks when necessary.
2. Get creative about relaxation.
Sometimes I relax by taking a hot bath, and sometimes I relax by making a solo run to Target. Or instead of staying up past midnight to watch a movie, I might just go to bed after my kid does.
3. Do small, manageable chores throughout the week.
This sounds easier and more straightforward than it actually is when you have a young child and a career that both demand your attention. But if you can just dust one bookshelf on Thursday night, then that’s one less bookshelf to dust on Sunday.
If you’re a working parent, give these tips a shot and see if they help you feel less overwhelmed. And if you’re not a parent — instead of telling your co-worker with kids, “Thank God it’s Friday,” maybe give her a hug and wish her good luck.
The four most important things in my life are my coffee, my cat, my dog and my kid — sometimes in that order. I'm a Nashville transplant living in Salt Lake City. I write about everything from innovative tech to personal and family wellness.