The midweek skive (YESSSS!)
Yes, weekends are often mental but it's possible to find a little free time elsewhere. Inspiration incoming!
The start of the year is notoriously a bit rubbish – it’s dark, we’re broke, there are no parties, but on the plus side, there’s something pleasing about getting back into a normal routine. And maybe – gasp! – even managing to grab an hour or two of peace and quiet in one’s own company. This year I plan to make a concerted effort to carve out more slithers of time when I’m not working, looking after children or doing chores and life admin. Lovely, precious, delicious free time – remember that? Frankly, it isn’t going to happen at weekends unless God un-invents football training and kids parties, so I’m aiming for what I’m dubbing a midweek skive. Basically it’s a sneaky slice of time to reset, reboot and, well, just do something fun. Let’s make it a thing!
And, yes, I know it’s really hard to tear yourself away from that ever-mutating to-do list or palm off small children, but taking a break is vital to boost your productivity and efficiency, as well as your spirits. I recently interviewed a psychology professor who specialises in time management and he told me off for never planning in any leisure time – it’s crucial to both physical and mental wellbeing, he tutted.
With this in mind, here are some ideas for your own sneaky midweek skive, whether you can find 10 minutes or two decadent days. Let us know what you get up to – and enjoy!
If you’ve got…. 10 minutes? Work out (or scoff cake!)
You don’t have to spend hours pounding the pavement or treadmill to get fit – how about a 7 minute workout in your living room? Even you can squeeze that in. The app Seven has a whole load of HIIT-based ones – it times you (it’s usually 30 seconds per exercise), has clear illustrations for each move and you don’t need any fancy props beyond a step and a chair. A one-week trial is free, thereafter it’s £9.99 per month. If that all sounds too energetic, you could dip into mindfulness. Or if you’re seeking less wholesome thrills, make a cake in a mug. Oh yes. Am I the last person in the world to hear of this delicious witchcraft? Google for recipes but basically you chuck flour, sugar, oil and an egg in a mug, stir and blast in the microwave for a couple of mins. Hey presto, an actual cake! Just add a cup of tea (in a different mug, obviously).
… An hour or two? Treat your ears
Right now I am massively into Audible, the audio books subscription service. Previously I thought I didn’t need audio books in my life – I can read perfectly well by myself, thank you very much – but I was an instant convert. I’m not alone – it’s one of the fastest growing categories in publishing. There’s something cosy and decadent about hunkering down and having someone else read you a story. Audible have 250,000 titles to choose from, they work with top actors and celebrities to narrate the titles and they’re currently offering a free 30 day trial. I’ve recently whizzed through Nora Ephron’s wry autobiographical novel Heartburn, brought to life by Meryl Streep no less, and am currently sniggering and weeping in turns through masculinity memoir How Not To Be A Boy, written and narrated by Peep Show‘s Robert Webb. On a similar note, how about getting lost in a podcast? Embarrassingly, I only discovered the app on my iPhone last year, but now I lap up Desert Island Discs and Women’s Hour as I don’t get chance to listen to the original Radio 4 broadcasts. I also adored the investigative journalism of S-Town, a real-life mystery story set in small town in Alabama, while Adam Buxton (as in Adam & Joe) conducts irreverent interviews with fellow comedians on his eponymous podcast.
… Half a day? Rediscover the old-school pleasure of retail therapy
It seems a really obvious suggestion to tell you to go shopping yet we so rarely indulge in retail therapy these days. But having tired of spending way too much in post office queues sending back unsuitable online purchases, I’ve recently re-embraced the good old fashioned IRL shopping trip. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed meandering along the high street, allowing myself to be inspired by the window displays and collections, and buying something pretty on a whim. Just take note of my IRL shopping tips – go first thing to avoid the crowds and nab the day’s new shop floor arrivals. Abort mission if you are hungover/ tired/ grumpy. Wear nude underwear and an outfit that’s easy to whip off when you’re changing. And only try stores that have decent service and changing rooms – Whistles and Jigsaw, for example. Head to Oxford Westgate for Cos, & Other Stories, John Lewis (which now stocks previously online-only brands such as Hush and Boden). Or, Westfield in West London is do-able from many parts of Berks (it’s a 40 min drive from Muddy Berks HQ), has surprisingly easy and cheap parking and loads of great restaurants (make mine a Wahaca). Its new £600m extension opens in March.
… Two days? (Lucky you!) Go on a retreat
Most of us would struggle to swan off for a week away, leaving the rest of the household to fend for themselves, but a short midweek sojourn might just be doable. If you’re so frazzled a normal spa day just won’t cut it, how about a residential retreat? I love the idea of Adventure Yogi’s midweek retreats in East Sussex – catnip for busy women, they tend to run from a Tuesday to a Thursday, nourishing you with yoga classes, hearty walks and healthy meals, so you glide into the weekend feeling Zen and refreshed (until you open your inbox/ laundry basket, ahem). Where do I sign up?
Words: Kerry Potter