Flex different skills
Gajus/shutterstockYour weekends need to feel different from your weekdays, which happens if you rotate in different activities and hobbies you don’t have time to do during the week, Laura Vanderkam shares in her book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. For examples, she notes that celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson plays soccer, television correspondent Bill McGowan chops firewood, and architect Rafael Vinoly plays piano. (Check out these other characteristics of wildly successful people.) Doing a different kind of labor allows your mind and body to recover from the typical stresses you encounter during the week. You can also save your workout for Saturday and Sunday—find out why science says it's OK to only exercise on weekends.
Plan it out
Rawpixel.com/shutterstockIn today’s distracted world, no weekend plan likely means you’ll end up mindlessly watching television or browsing the internet. “Failing to think through what you wish to do on the weekend may make you succumb to the ‘I’m tired’ excuse that keeps you locked in the house,” she writes. You don't need a micromanaged, minute-by-minute playbook, but sketch in three to five “anchor” activities. Planning also lets you savor the joy of anticipating something fun; psychology research shows we’re often happier anticipating an event, like a vacation, than we are during or after it. Find out what else highly organized people do on weekends.
Do something fun on Sunday night
Rawpixel.com/shutterstockDampen those Sunday night blues by giving yourself something to look forward to. “This extends the weekend and keeps you focused on the fun to come, rather than on Monday morning,” according to Vanderkam. You could make a tradition of a big dinner with your extended family, take an early-evening yoga class, or find a volunteer opportunity, such as serving meals to those less fortunate. Here are 10 more fun date night ideas that you can do with a partner or a friend.
Maximize your mornings
baranq/shutterstockWeekend mornings tend to be wasted time, notes Vanderkam—cleaning up toys, throwing in laundry, flipping through your DVR. But if you’re willing to get up before your family, they’re great for personal pursuits, like training for a marathon. “It’s less disruptive for your family if you get up early to do your four-hour run than if you try to do it in the middle of the day,” she explains. Even on weekdays, steal these 10 things successful people do every morning.
George Rudy/shutterstockHappy families often have special activities they do most weekends that don’t require special planning—Friday night pizza, a walk to religious services, Sunday morning pancakes. “These habits are what become memories,” she writes. “And comforting rituals boost happiness.” Here are more ways to have happier family weekends.
Schedule nap time
Lopolo/shutterstockIt’s not just for toddlers. Encouraging your whole family to have rest time in the mid- to late afternoon ensures you’ll actually take the time out of your busy schedules to let your body rest and recuperate with these benefits of napping. For the best snooze ever, try these 11 tricks for an energizing nap.
Dean Drobot/shutterstockWe know what you’re thinking: When else am I supposed to get errands done? Rather than let them take over your whole weekend, Vanderkam suggests that you designate a chore time, maybe on Saturday while you wait for the babysitter to come or for a designated period on Sunday mornings. “Giving yourself a small window makes you more motivated to get chores done quickly so you can move on to the fun things,” she writes. Do double duty with these tricks for turning chores into an actual workout.
Cut down on tech
Standret/shutterstockEven if you’re not religious, observing a “technology Sabbath” is good for your brain. “A stretch of time apart from the computer, phone, and work stresses creates space for other things in life,” says Vanderkam. (It's especially true if you show these signs you're addicted to your phone.) Encouraging your whole family to put away their smartphones for a day, or even a few hours, forces you to have a different relationship with your spouse, friends, and kids. If you need to work on the weekends, consider a specific window to finish a project or sort through your inbox, rather than periodically checking and writing back to emails all day long.