Lifestyle Changes

This fall, I am doing this crazy thing: I am taking off every Friday. That’s right people, four-day work week until 2011. There are two huge payoffs to this schedule. First, the work week is packed, and I mean PACKED, with stuff to do. I’m not really one to sit around waiting for someone to tell me what to do anyway, but knowing that I have one less day a week to get everything done that typically needs to be done is a fabulous motivator to get in gear. Second, my weekends are almost as long as my work weeks. Obviously, right? But think about the difference between 5/2 and 4/3. It’s significant. The amount of reading/family/resting/traveling/visiting/occasionally cleaning time I have just increased by 33%.

The original motivation for this schedule was financial. In the fall, my husband travels for work every weekend, and rather than have the kids in daycare every Friday while he flies or drives away, we figured we could save several thousand dimes by taking Fridays off. But I think if I have my way, I’ll keep this up every fall, regardless of what my husband’s schedule is.

The other new thing happening this fall is DATE NIGHT. Do you know the magic of these two words? I’d like to post a banner across every doorway in every home with DATE NIGHT on it. Since BW is gone from Thursday through Sunday most weeks and I work Monday through Thursday, the chance the two of us would be alert and engaged together at any point during the week was slim. So one weekday night each week, we have our faithful babysitter over, kiss the kids goodnight and wish them happy mac and cheese meals, and dash out the door for any destination other than our house.

So far, we’ve enjoyed golfing, going to an Indians game, a movie, and dinner together. Next Tuesday the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra is coming to Ashland, so we’re going to go to that. DATE NIGHT was the best idea anyone ever gave to us, I think. I might be overly enthusiastic about this whole thing, but this is one more new change that, if I have my way, will never disappear from our budget. We might have to be more frugal in our DATE NIGHT selections, but I do not want to lose this time with my husband. It’s like we’re married and not just the parents of our joint children!

I just finished the book, Outliers: The Story of Success, which was quite good and quite interesting. As I was talking to someone about it, he asked me whether it changed my definition of success. Not really, I said, it just shed some light on one kind of success. He asked whether a plumber can be considered to have led a successful life. Of course! That wasn’t the kind of success Outliers studied – Outliers looks at the people we deem as extremely talented stars, geniuses, millionaires, etc., and how they got to be where they are. The success that Michael was talking about was what I think is better tagged “fulfillment.” Can the plumber lead a fulfilling life? Absolutely. Fulfillment has less to do with monetary success and fame than it has to do with attitude.

I feel like my life is more fulfilling with these new changes – extra time with my kids, and extra time with my husband – because these are the relationships that make my life fulfilling. I would rather sacrifice 8% of my salary and $50 a week to spend this time with my family. It is a worthy investment whose return is priceless.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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