Sunday night already. With a yawn, we shuffled through the front door into a dark living room. It had been a busy weekend, one that had left me and my husband with little time at home.
It might not have left us so drained, except for the fact that we had made plans for that whole weekend and the weekend before...and the one before that. It had all been fun—but also exhausting (especially since we are introverts!). And we knew that we wouldn’t wake up the next morning feeling particularly well-rested.
I soon found that we weren’t the only ones. One day, while catching up with a friend (who is also married with one small child), I listened to her describe her own series of busy weekends. In fact, she said, her family was scheduled to go to three birthday celebrations that very weekend.
Without a doubt, living near many friends and relatives is wonderful, and I wouldn’t change that. However, having that social circle can mean that our weekends often look just as busy as the work week. The result: we repeatedly get to Sunday night feeling tired, unprepared for Monday, and frustrated with the list of household needs left undone.
Luckily, my friend had a solution: the rejuvenation weekend.
“Every other weekend, we commit to being at home,” she explained. I was intrigued. Home to do what? To rest, spend time with family, and tend to small home projects.
At first, the idea might sound anti-social, especially when surrounded by friends and family who are always ready with an invitation. However, I quickly discovered how the rejuvenation weekend actually nurtures our social capabilities.
There’s a logic behind the term home base. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as “the place where someone or something usually lives, works, or operates from.” It’s a central hub. It implies not just where we keep our personal belongings but where we live. It’s a place we can always come back to, where we can reorientate ourselves. In other words, home should be the nexus around which our outside interactions revolve.
Don’t get me wrong; socializing is important. We need time with friends and relatives to strengthen those relationships and support each other, both in times of celebration and difficulty. At the same time, the people at home (including ourselves) have needs too, and sometimes those needs require being in our own, quiet space. The balance between the two is essential.
If we treat home more as a pitstop than a home base, breezing through just to grab a bite to eat or a few hours of sleep, we deprive ourselves of our social center of gravity. We’re likely to drain ourselves of energy and float around to social events half-focused, stressed, or just tired. Caught in that pattern of constantly being out and about, we sacrifice the tranquility of home for the sake of fulfilling outside requests. We’ve been thrown off balance.
The idea of the rejuvenation weekend doesn’t mean that it has to happen every other weekend, or even take up the entire weekend. In order to be effective, it should be tailored to our own circumstances. Plan a monthly movie night. Spend a few minutes on Thursday evenings organizing a bookshelf or drawer while listening to a podcast. Dedicate every other Saturday afternoon to baking. Regardless, it should be scheduled, regular, at home, and (most importantly) restful.
Of course, committing to rejuvenation time means occasionally turning invitations down, and that’s not always easy. But an RSVP decline doesn’t necessarily say “I don’t like spending time with you,” especially if we choose our words wisely.
Let’s say a friend invites you to a barbecue on a night when you had been looking forward to cooking dinner with your family at home. A straightforward yet gracious reply might sound something like, “I actually have a family commitment that evening, but thanks so much for thinking of me!” or “That sounds like fun, but unfortunately I have a previously scheduled event that day. Hopefully next time!”
The idea is not that we don’t want to spend time socializing, just that certain times are not going to work, and that’s okay. Suggesting another time to get together (“I can’t meet up this weekend, but I’m free next Friday if you want to grab coffee!”), or even inviting that friend to join our rejuvenation time (so long as it’s still restful at home), can express our gratitude for the invitation and our interest in spending time together—without sacrificing our home base needs.
It’s true that some seasons of life are just plain busy with social obligations. Weddings, graduations, and other big events can fill our schedule with invitations that we simply can’t decline. But even in those times, carving out a little time to breathe at home is just as important (if not more so), so that we avoid a series of increasingly stressful Sunday night scaries.
Even if we need to adjust our rejuvenation strategy, being intentional about spending time at home can increase our appreciation for our own space and those who dwell there. Plus, it can help us recharge so that when we do go out to be with others, we can make the most of that time with full attention and energy.
My mom often talks about the importance of “keeping the home hearths burning.” That doesn’t mean that she never leaves home, but it does mean that wherever she is, whether at work or with friends, her final destination is always home, where she can nurture the life and love that dwells there. By doing so, she makes sure that home is always a place where its members will find a warm welcome and rest.
That’s a goal worth striving for not just for guests but for ourselves, and living the rejuvenation weekend (or a close equivalent) is a great way to achieve that.