I just listened to a great podcast that advised working moms to “plan for weekly adventures,” and I thought it might make a great discussion both here and on CorporetteMoms. How do YOU plan for weekly adventures? How have the plans and adventures changed throughout your life, e.g., the singleton’s plan, the couple’s plans, the mom-of-small-kids plan, the mom-of-big-kids plan, the empty nester’s plan?
The podcast is one the readers turned me on to, Best of Both Worlds. If you’re not familiar with the podcast, it’s hosted by Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It and a mom of five, and Sarah Hart-Unger, a practicing physician, blogger, and mom of three. As Vanderkam’s website notes, they discuss “work/life balance, career development, parenting, time management, productivity, and making time for fun.”
The April 11, 2023, episode features Rachana Shah, a pediatric endocrinologist, talking about the rule she came up with during the pandemic: to plan for one big adventure (requiring a few hours) and one little adventure (an hour or so).
(If you don’t have time for the entire podcast, you can just check out this three-minute YouTube video — she describes some of her little adventures, like checking out a new local swimming pool, checking out a new coffee shop, and more — and a lot of her bigger ones were things like camping, which was totally new to her family.)
This is definitely something I’ve always struggled with — I have to fight my urges to nest or to work.
Readers, how about you: When you think about little and big weekly adventures, what do you think about? What do you when you’re in a rut? How have the adventures changed over the seasons of your life?
How I’ve Planned Weekly Adventures Throughout My Life
My Single Years
I was basically single until I met my husband at age 30, so I had a lot of time with just myself to plan weekly adventures. I distinctly remember that during my law school years I worked pretty much nonstop, but forced myself to take Friday afternoons and evenings off. Most of my good friends from law school were in my study groups or other spaces I spent a lot of time, like law review, so I wasn’t too stressed about being social — instead I would generally just go shopping, rotating through a few different spots (e.g., the fancy mall, the outlet mall, discount stores like TJMaxx). The time to myself to not think about anything legal — and just walk around and touch pretty clothes — was priceless at that point in my life.
During my law firm years, I was also working a lot, and often continued to work on the weekends. (I think I’ve written about how I considered going to the office on Sunday to be a “super Monday” because I could get so much done.) Unlike in law school, I didn’t feel like I was necessarily always working with good friends, so I tried to make plans for Friday and Saturday night ahead of time to see friends, which usually involved picking out a new restaurant, a bar, or going to a play or gallery or something like that.
Looking back, I really wish I’d been more adventurous with exercise in particular — trying out a new kind of exercise class (cardio drum! aerial yoga!) or activity every weekend would have been great.
My Coupled Years
When I met my husband, we still loved to check out new restaurants and bars, but we also started to cook a lot more and start to do more couple-y type things like date nights with friends. It worked out well that some of my best girlfriends met their future husbands around the same time.
Years with Young Kids
When my first son was born, that changed things up significantly — we often would bring him with us to new restaurants (and we’d delight in watching him try new things), but other things started to enter the mix: checking out the new pop-up pool, a new playground or splash ground, going to one of the more kid-friendly museums, zoo, aquarium, etc. Oftentimes family came along, or we would meet friends with small kids to join us in the activities.
I generally was good about planning for family adventures like this until the pandemic came along (whee) — we were/are some of the most COVID-cautious people we know (primarily to help protect some family members), so that urge to spend the weekends nesting in our pajamas, with screens, really became a bit of a rut for us!
Since we’ve been back out there, we’ve been trying to take little adventures like trying new types of foods, going to local exhibits or kid-friendly outings, and more. Some of them are total stinkers where we say, “Huh, well, we tried it,” and others are hits that even introduce us to new favorite activities.
My Top Tips on Planning Adventures
You’ve Got to Plan It
As is probably obvious from above, I’m not the greatest at this — but I will say that if I’ve learned anything, it’s that spontaneity does NOT work for me and adventures. (There was that time I spontaneously took my 4-year-old on a helicopter ride, but, ah, I’m not sure that’s the best example .)
For me, now is the time to think about what adventures we want over the summer — things like kayaking, seeing exhibits, boating — that can all be planned well in advance because we’re generally bound by availability and/or required to have a reservation.
The things I struggle with are things where we say, “Ah, let’s go on a hike somewhere new!” or “Let’s check out a new-to-us area of town!” — anything that requires research often devolves into us not going at all.
My Spreadsheet Idea
(It’s always a great day for a spreadsheet, am I right?)
Something I’m going to try this summer is to put a bunch of ideas (from all of us!) on a spreadsheet, print them out and cut them up into little pieces, and then put them in a jar, so we can pick one out every weekend. Including different places to check out that might fall to the wayside if left to spontaneity (such as hiking or exploring or whatnot).
I think I’ll have to have one jar for winter activities and one for summer… hmmn.
Readers, how about you: When you think about little and big weekly adventures, what do you think about? What do you when you’re in a rut? How have the adventures changed over the seasons of your life? (Who in your household is usually the one to plan said adventures?)
(If you distinguish between the weekend you vs the weekday you, how do your adventures fit into those personas?)
Stock photo via Stencil.
Love this topic! One of the biggest things for me is sitting down to plan a weekend way in advance. I used to equate planning with not being spontaneous/adventurous, but I realized the planning is essential for the types of adventure that I enjoy. I can’t go camping at my favorite state park if I don’t get the reservations six months in advance. I can’t backpack in the Sierras without a permit. I need to get my bike tuned up if I want to use it for a ride three weeks from now. Sitting down to do that planning and then having the adventure to look forward to on the calendar has been a total gamechanger. It has almost eliminated that Saturday morning feeling of “well what are we going to do today…errand I guess? Ugh.”
I make a seasonal to-do list and it’s not boring stuff like clean gutters, but more like Outside Ice Skating with Hot Chocolate. It’s not weekly, but I look at it regularly to see what fun things I was looking forward to. Like Anon, above, it helps me to plan things by making reservations or getting tickets in advance.
For the longest time, I resisted planning my weekends. I wanted to be spontaneous since the weekdays are pretty regimented. Well. That rarely works out in my current stage of life, and I am so much happier now that I actually put real thought into how I want to spend my leisure time. This works for both things I want to do individually, and things we do as a family.
I love to buy tickets to things like concerts or plays many months in advance. I’ve paid them off already , and it’s like a big treat!