Thursday, 22 January 2015

What to do with a day off...?

As a recent graduate finding my bearings in the real world, a lot of day-to-day norms are puzzling me; for instance, where shall I stash my depressing bank statements? How often should I dust my bookshelves? What do they mean when they say the dress code is ‘smart-casual’? How many chocolates can I take from the box in the staff room? One of the most puzzling would be this one: now that I have a proper job, what do I do with my days off? 


As a young’un, days off were frequent and uneventful really. We’d get home from school and never seemed to realise that we had almost half a day left to run amok and do whatever we fancied. I, personally, would veg out majorly in front of the TV and watch anything and everything for several hours, sometimes while completing Maths worksheets at the coffee table, and sneaking six Bourbon biscuits at a time from the kitchen despite my mum telling me she’d counted them (she never did).
Then I’d have my dinner, then another hour or two on the sofa hanging out with the ‘Friends’ gang, then reading for a while before bed.
Looking back now, I’d love to have those lazy afternoons back. Those hours upon hours that I thoughtlessly wasted and wished away at times because I so badly wanted to be back in school, rehearsing for the upcoming Drama spectacular, making yet another felt collage in Art Textiles or listening to my classmates read Shakespeare out loud, painfully slowly, during English in their hilarious Hastings tongue. Now, I’d do so much more with my time; I’d go outside and wander about, see my friends outside of school, start my own projects, maybe even plan ahead and look at colleges and universities and learn how to cook the perfect pasta dish in preparation for entertaining guests when I was living in the city in my snazzy one-bed apartment above the shops on Regent Street.
Or maybe I would do exactly the same thing I always did back then; maybe I’d keep my valuable veg time.
As an adult, with a proper grown-up job and what not, we appreciate days off so much more. I always kick myself when I wake up after 10am on my day off during my six-day week, because that’s precious lazy morning time I’ve wasted – or it’s time I could be spending mapping out my attack on the high street. Days off are meant to be celebrated and filled to the maximum with enjoyable activities you don’t get to do any more.
It could be a trip to the cinema to see that film you keep meaning to see, a long phone chat with your other half, a catch-up with an old friend who just so happens to have a day off that coincides with yours (this never happens guys, seriously), a day trip to a town or city you’ve never been to before, a takeaway curry with your family, an impromptu theatre trip after buying day-seats for £25, a walk in the park with your neighbour and their dog, or just a mad tidy of your room and mass turnover of your belongings.
Then again, resting is surely the most valuable thing to be doing with your time on a day off? If you’re on your feet constantly, working double shifts every few days, serving the cranky hard-to-please public and finding any excuse to sit down even if that means counting the tills in the office or grabbing slices of cake from the freezer downstairs – a day in bed is just what the Dr ordered and what you’ve dreamt of.
I make myself a cup of tea and am torn between enjoying the cuppa at a relaxed slow pace, or gulping it down while putting my coat on and running out the front door.
My dad, the lifelong commuter, treasures his weekends. He has a routine of having a cuppa in the morning in bed with a plain digestive biscuit; he’ll watch the footy some Saturdays and play golf some Sundays, but for the most part he’ll relax and take it as it comes, because all too soon it’s Monday morning and he’s waking up at 5:50am again.
 Yesterday, I finally had a day off; I spent it sleeping in until 10:40am, snuggling with the cat, then running some errands in town, popping in on my grandma for a quick natter and a briefing of the Bexhill gossip, then on impulse I decided to go and see ‘The Theory of Everything’ all by myself.
I would not allow myself to get cosy and comfortable on the sofa.
Even when my train was cancelled and the following one delayed, I jumped in a taxi and paid an extortionate fee just to get to the cinema in time to see Eddie Redmayne be beautiful and earn his Oscar. It wasn’t just about seeing this astonishing film or getting a delicious takeaway mocha beforehand (which I expertly smuggled into the screen under my woolly hat), it was about getting out and doing something with my day off…especially as I’d just agreed to work an extra covering shift on Friday, which would have been my other day off this week. This day off mattered all the more.
So, what should we be doing on our days off? I tend not to ask myself that question much any more. Instead, I say: “what COULD I be doing on my day off?”
If I have two free days in one week, I try to set one day aside for adventures, and one for endless shameless thoughtless vegging out. One day, I’ll jump on a train to the big smoke, hook up with my local tube-savvy friends, run around all five levels of Foyles, crawl from pub to pub, see the sights and maybe take in a show while I’m up there.
Then the next day, I won’t leave my bed until 2pm, I’ll binge on Netflix (my record is three series in one day) and all I’ll eat will be crumpets and crisps. I may go outside for a little fresh air at some point, but chances are I’ll stubbornly stay in my pyjamas for a full 12 hours.
I think the important thing to consider, also, is that you may be immensely excited for an action-packed day off and have all kinds of grand plans in the works for it, BUT…if you wake up on the day and your very soul is screaming at you to stay put between the sheets, just do it. Listen to your body, and reason with your mind. You can always switch the escapade day for the sleepy day.
What do you do on your days off? Would you recommend trying new things and filling every hour with insane activities, or sprawling on the sofa numbing your overworked brain with daytime TV? Can we have both days in one – that’s the dream… 

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