Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

Make a fancy breakfast and try gardening: 17 tips on how to make weekends feel special while staying at home

While many of us work from home during the week, it can be hard to differentiate between office hours and spare time

Sophie Prideaux makes fancy breakfast feasts on weekends. Sophie Prideaux / The National
Sophie Prideaux makes fancy breakfast feasts on weekends. Sophie Prideaux / The National

At this point, many of us have been working from home for a couple of months now due to the global pandemic. Because of this, we can find it harder to make the switch between office hours and time off.

Here are 17 ways staff at The National have been differentiating between working days and the weekend – making those free hours feel that bit more special.

Make a fancy breakfast

I always make myself a fancy breakfast on the weekends; pancakes, French toast, a posh coffee. It sets my weekend off on great note and is something to look forward to. Plus, it’s giving me an excuse to practise my skills in the kitchen.

Sophie Prideaux, assistant features editor

Pancakes for breakfast in Sophie Prideaux's house. Sophie Prideaux / The National
Pancakes for breakfast in Sophie Prideaux's house. Sophie Prideaux / The National

Turn off your laptop

One thing I have now stopped doing is using my laptop at the weekend. Once the week is over, the laptop stays in the home office and I switch to using the iPad or even just my phone, to separate the association with work from my free time. It's a small thing, probably a bit silly and perhaps unsustainable. But psychologically, laptop means work for me now!

Melanie Smith, chief sub-editor – features

And put away other electronic devices

I put away most of my electronic devices, including my work, personal laptop and phone so I can really disconnect. If I don’t see a laptop in sight, I’m happy.

Alex Chaves, arts writer

Get school out of the way

I make sure that the children have done all of their schoolwork during the week, so I don't have to spend any time home-schooling during the weekend. That is how I feel that the weekend is a weekend during these times!

Samia Badih, arts editor

Bake something

While working from home has meant it's been easier than ever to prepare fresh, home-cooked dinners each night, I leave baking as a weekend treat – quite literally. Waiting for dough to prove or cakes to cool before icing means it can be a long, leisurely process, one that kills hours without feeling like a chore. Throw on a podcast, blast some music, or put the TV on in the background, and just enjoy weighing, whisking and mixing without feeling like you have to rush to whack it in the oven before heading out the door.

Emma Day, deputy features editor

Make it all about food and books

I dedicate my weekend to two things: food and books. I am currently taking a break from watching shows and films to concentrate on reading. Early Friday mornings, I go to Mina in Abu Dhabi to pick up my fruits and veggies for the week, and not only do I meal prep on weekends so I can avoid ordering in on weekdays when I am working from home, but that is also the time I devote to trying out new recipes. This weekend, for example, I baked my first garden focaccia bread and made a second batch of mango cheesecake! When I'm done cooking and cleaning, I go back to whichever title I am currently reading, preferably with a hot cup of masala chai.

Aarti Jhurani, sub-editor

Play with your pets

I celebrate the weekend by drawing new shaped eyebrows on my dog. Like me, he is a blonde, and while I am reluctant to experiment on myself, I am more than happy to make mistakes on his face. I use a marker pen (non permanent) and try different shapes.

Sarah Maisey, Luxury deputy editor

Take an extra long walk

I take the dog for extra long walks to mark the end of the week. During the working day, the pooch gets a speedy rush around the block, while at weekends we amble at a much more leisurely pace. Since starting to be allowed out again, we can go back to the desert and spend a couple of hours to burn off some energy. Sadly, there is no one there to admire his eyebrows.

Sarah Maisey

Pamper yourself

It's something I typically relegated for Saturday nights anyhow, but having a long bath with a face mask, giving myself a home manicure, and just undertaking any little grooming rituals really makes it feel like the weekend. Resist temptation to whack on a mask during the working day and save it for the weekend instead, to keep that feeling of routine.

Emma Day

Take care of your hair

I reserve my home blowouts as a weekend special because good hair always translates to a good day for me. My long Zoom chats are schedule for then, too, and a drive to pick up my favourite iced dark latte as a treat from Arabica %.

Mary Gayen, sub-editor

Try gardening

I'm trying to spend as much time as possible in the garden on the weekends, before it gets too hot to be outdoors. While I cannot claim to have anything close to green fingers, since I've started self isolating, I've planted tomatoes, basil, mint and rosemary, and am enjoying seeing the green leaves of my labour.

Selina Denman, head of magazines and travel

Selina Denman works on her garden at weekends. Selina Denman / The National
Selina Denman works on her garden at weekends. Selina Denman / The National

Schedule a quiz

I have been doing a Thursday night quiz with friends and family. It's been the best way to switch off from work completely and spend the evening chatting away. Then at the weekend, no alarms and days spent baking have taken up most of my free time.

Farah Andrews, assistant features editor

Play video games

During the weekend, I just let myself unwind. I'll put away my phone and pick up my Nintendo Switch and just laze about playing video games for a little bit and not feel bad about it. Sometimes I'll fish and collect items in Animal Crossing or other times I'll play the retro Super Mario Bros game and be reminded of when I was a child. Either way, it's a nice distraction for me when I'm not working.

Evelyn Lau, assistant features editor

Look after some cats

I also use the weekends to go in to the city to feed stray cats and leave them clean and fresh water bowls. I get worried they aren't looked after as much during the lockdown so I take time to go and see them. As a bonus, I also get in some sun and fresh air while doing something meaningful to me.

Evelyn Lau

Turn off your alarms

While you’re working, you’re brutally awakened to the sound of an alarm. The nights before my days off, I take great pleasure in turning off my morning alarms and knowing I can wake up whenever I want. The fact that I usually wake up at the exact same time my alarm would have gone off – if not before – is besides the point.

Katy Gillett, Weekend editor

Get some fresh air

I’ve taken to using my abundant free time during the weekend to get as much fresh air as possible. Something that really helps my mood is spending the evening out on the balcony, and sometimes nursing a cup of tea (although I’ve put this one on hold during Ramadan). Watching the sun set, and then counting out the first stars that appear is a strangely therapeutic experience.

Janice Rodrigues, lifestyle writer

Order a takeaway

Like many others, while we’ve had more spare time on our hands at home my husband and I have been making our own meals. But every Thursday night, we order in a takeaway (usually a cheat meal that involves chips or fries). Then we do the same thing on a Friday morning for breakfast (always an acai bowl). We feel less bad about doing so when we’ve eaten home-cooked, healthy meals all week, and spent far less on takeaways than we normally would have.

Katy Gillett, Weekend editor

Updated: May 14, 2020 08:00 PM

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