Reclaiming the Weekend

A BA Woman

BA Women's Words

August 22, 2019

Each week a BA Woman contributes to our BA Women's Words—a bloglette posted on Friday mornings where we tackle gendered issues to advance the educational, personal, and professional development of women who seek to make a difference in the world. 

Read on for EmpowHERing words by confident women living dynamic, complex lives. Have something to explore, share, declare, or celebrate with us?
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My best friend hasn't taken a day off in 2019. Or perhaps much longer than that. She takes moments here and there. She'll go for a run or read a book, but she rarely has a fully-uninterrupted-just-for-HER kind of day. When I do get the treat of some time with her, it often ends with, "I really should go," knowing we both have imposing to-do lists waiting.

Similarly, her friend has a "conscience folder." You might have one too. It's the work brought home on weekends that you're sincerely hoping to do, to catch up, to get ahead. The "conscience folder" sits in the back of your car or on the kitchen table. It also typically accompanies you on long plane flights. It whispers in the back of your mind, "You really should get to that." Sometimes you tackle it, and feel momentarily triumphant. Mostly, it creates a heavy feeling not dissimilar to my own recurring nightmare, entitled: "Taking a final exam for a class I forgot I enrolled in." That's the dream where I wake up thinking, "I really should have studied for that."

Enough with the "shoulds."

Our weekends (even for those of us who have jobs that allow for weekends) are rarely a time to rest, relax, restore, and slow down. And for those of us who identify as women, the feminine expectations of accomplishment, purpose, and pride—and their shadow sides of shame and vulnerability—make it uniquely complex. (See Brene Brown's work for a deep dive on that; be sure to bring your galoshes.) We use weekends to tackle our inboxes, get a jump on next month's projects, and input receipts into Quickbooks. We also often take on domestic duties of caring for our parents and children (ours, or our friends'), making grocery runs, dropping off food to a sick or aging relative, and stopping by the weekend's youth sporting event.

The truth is, working ourselves 24/7 has adverse effects on ourselves and others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do-do-do and go-go-go, and it's exhausting. On the other hand, in countries like New Zealand and Sweden, the work week averages out at only 32 hours, and is accompanied by increased productivity, health, and happiness. Likewise, here at home in the U.S., taking vacation is linked to employee satisfaction and performance—yet 768 million vacation days went unused last year (...and I haven't even mentioned the benefits of paid family leave or affordable daycare!).

So, as summer fades and we head into fall, whether you're back on campus, or snapping photos of your (grand)children's first day of school, let's take some time for some self care. Like Maxine Waters, let's reclaim our time. Our free time, that is. We deserve it.

A BA Woman

A BA Woman is a member of our community who has a perspective to share, ideas to spread, and words worth hearing. She's tenacious, compassionate, and lifts as she climbs. She's totally BA. She could be anyone—her words are relatable because she gets us like no one else.

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