11 everyday joys
What’s happening with our home in Eau Claire

How to take a day off


This year, as part of my 2024 goals, I'm planning to take three days completely off: February 29, June 22 (my half birthday), and December 22 (my birthday). Every year I take my birthday off and love the feeling of being completely "off-duty." I realized I should not limit myself to feeling that way only once per year!

As I've been looking ahead to February 29 I found myself trying to figure out how to take a day off. What a funny conundrum to be in! But I wonder if others can relate to it as well. Even though I take a full day off once a year on my birthday I still don't feel like I'm great at designing a day off. Part of this is my season of life: I have three young kids, a household to co-manage, and work for myself. I just don't have much opportunity to practice taking breaks! Part of my challenge is that work and being productive is truly fun for me. Although I recognize how important it is to balance rest and work, even "fun" work. We are not robots!

So I've been asking myself, "What can I do for eight-ish hours that will leave me feeling the most refreshed?" And slightly more existential, "What do I even like to do for fun??" I think these are good questions that as adults we don't ask ourselves very often – but should!

Interestingly (or maybe not) I'm mostly drawn to doing things alone. Although I love being social, I'm an introvert at heart and having a quiet, leisurely day alone is what I crave to feel refreshed.


I thought I'd start with a brainstorm list of things that I enjoy doing. From the list, I could choose two or three things to include in my day off:

+ Going out to breakfast alone at The Coffee Shop, my favorite local coffee shop, and reading. I usually do this on my birthday!

+ Showering, blow-drying, and curling my hair. Also wearing some makeup. I don't do any of these things every day so they feel like a treat when I get to do them.

+ Shopping in a non-stressful way, such as browsing at Sephora or the Container Store or going into one clothing store, like Madewell or Loft, to look for something to buy.

+ Browsing at a book store, especially a locally owned one.

+ Exercising either early in the morning so it's already done or doing a gentle kind of exercise, like yoga, during the day.

+ Watching a movie I've been wanting to see. This could be at the theater or at home now that we have a great movie set up with our new TV.

+ Catching up with a friend on the phone, perhaps while I walk outside and in the company of a cup of coffee.

+ Speaking of coffee, a mid-afternoon cup of coffee and maybe a sweet treat. This feels so indulgent to me!

+ Checking out something new or new-to-me around town like a restaurant, shop, art exhibit, etc.

+ Getting a facial. I rarely get these but I much prefer a facial to a massage.

+ Getting my nails done. Although truthfully I like to have my nails look beautiful on a day off but don't necessarily want to spend my day off getting them done.

+ Making a new recipe from one of my cookbooks, or a cookbook that I've checked out of the library. I've made bread once from Bittman Bread cookbook which I currently have out from the library. Maybe baking another loaf or trying another of the sourdough baked good recipes in the book?

+ Going shopping for supplies to support a hobby. Such as buying a few things to support the bread baking I've been trying, like a food scale, new loaf pan, and a sourdough starter jar.

+ Lunch or dinner out with friends? I love the idea of this! But the coordinating part is less attractive. I feel like coordinating and scheduling is such a big and draining part of my life. But I could pick a place I want to go, name the time, and throw the invite out to several people. If no one can make it I can always enjoy bringing my book.


My minds starts to drift to other things that I think are fun but that stray into work and productivity. I'm not totally opposed to including one of these things but want to make sure that including something productive would actually be refreshing for me. It's tough because I often have the feeling that if I could just clear out several to-do list items then I would be able to relax more. Do you feel this way? So part of me is tempted to turn a day off into a power productivity day and clear the decks.

But the to-do list items will keep rolling in as soon as I clear some away. Plus I know that the illusive "I'll be able to relax when..." is something we all think from time to time but it's honestly a lie. The point is to learn how to rest now even when there are things to be done (there will always be something to do).


What do you think about days off? Do you take them? If not, could you find a way to put one on the calendar this year. A birthday is often a great place to start! What would your ideal day off look like?


P.S. If you like this topic I have two book recommendations for you, both by Laura Vanderkam, who has been a time management inspiration for years. (I wrote about how much I liked her book I Know How She Does It way back in my full time working mom days.). But in terms of finding rest and fun, I highly recommend Laura's book Off the Clock and the book I'm currently reading, Tranquility By Tuesday. I love the way Laura presents information and new ideas in such a practical and appealing way. As soon as I read one of her recommendations I'm always eager to implement it!