We’ve done it all. This past weekend we tried something new.
The kids had a four-day weekend. We initially thought we should plan a vacation. Sneak away somewhere warm and relax.
But you know what? Vacations aren’t always the solution.
Sometimes we go on vacation to run away from the real world, including our responsibilities at home. Vacation is nice, but everything we take a break from is still there waiting for us when we get back.
Instead of taking a vacation to run from our home responsibilities, we decided to run towards them. To spend time off improving our home. To put our vacation money where we spend most of our time.
We coined it a Homeworkcation. A vacation spent catching up on home work.
And it was the best long weekend we’ve had in a long time. We got so much done and had a blast doing it. By viewing the whole weekend as a working vacation we made sure to mix in tons of fun.
We’ve tried before to commit to a weekend of house work, only to realize by Sunday afternoon we hadn’t gotten any work done. We always put off necessary home maintenance.
So we tried a new approach. We planned out a Homeworkcation. Instead of planning a vacation, we spent the same amount of time planning our homeworkcation. Instead of picking out a hotel and making dinner and sight-seeing reservations, we spent the time prioritizing our home projects and gathering supplies to get them done.
Here’s the list of projects we finished during our 4 day homeworkcation:
- Installed two storm doors
- Reinforced the mud room coat shelf
- Decluttered the mud room shelf
- Cleaned out our junk laundry room
- Installed stepping stones in the front yard
- Replaced all exterior light bulbs
- Replaced the garbage disposal
- Order a new dishwasher
One thing you’ll notice about this list is these aren’t all fun, pretty projects. Most of them are routine maintenance kinds of things that we put off year after year.
We finally tackled the projects that drained our mental energy. The projects that cluttered up our mental to do list and never got done. The thing we always complained about, but never did anything to change.
The goal of the homeworkcation is to finish all those maintenance projects that you should do, but don’t really want to. Because even though they aren’t glamorous, they can improve your home. And there are often hidden benefits.
For example, we needed to install storm doors to prevent water from coming in our exterior doors. That in and of itself is a good improvement, but we also found out storm doors help insulate for winter. And finally I’ll be able to put a wreath on my front door, because the storm door will protect it from the crazy winds that sweep across our porch.
Plus, the boys had fun making forts with the boxes.
6 Must Dos to Make Your Homeworkcation the Best
We did not go into our homeworkcation without a plan. We wanted the long weekend to be as productive as possible, but still enjoyable. These are the six things that made the whole weekend run smoothly.
1. How to Keep Your Project List Manageable and Focused
Choose a theme. Just like you might choose a theme for a vacation—kid-friendly escape to Disney World or quiet couples-only cabin retreat—we chose a theme for our homeworkcation.
A theme will help you stay focused and prioritize your projects.
Our theme was winterization. Your theme might be decluttering, getting ready for baby, or deep cleaning. Choose a theme that resonates with you and would feel like a big win for your home.
With winterization as our focus, we made any project that had to be complete before winter our top priority. So that included all outdoor maintenance activities. There’s other work we’d love to do around the house, but the winterization has a hard and fast (or should I say cold) deadline.
2. The Trick to Staying Motivated
The goal of the homeworkcation is to get all the boring home maintenance projects done, but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw in one special project or activity. In fact, I think it’s the key to staying motivated.
Choose a capstone project or activity that you’ll complete once all the other projects on the list are done. If you don’t finish everything else, you don’t get to do the fun project. The capstone project could be related to your theme or not. The goal with this project is to choose something desirable that will be a reward for finishing all the less glamorous work.
We chose to order a new dishwasher (complete with installation) as our capstone activity. Since our old dishwasher leaves a lot to be desired, we were both super motivated to “earn” the new one.
3. You Must Do This Ahead of Time to Avoid Mistakes and Rework
Once you have your list of projects decided, make sure you’re ready to tackle them. Multiple trips to the home improvement store can really eat into you work time.
Before our homeworkcation started I:
- Made a list of all the supplies and tools we needed to complete the projects.
- I spent an hour at the home improvement store by myself scouting out options for our projects. I checked out the storm doors, made sure they had what we needed in stock, and I selected the dishwasher we wanted to order.
- I purchased all the supplies and tools I could by myself. The only thing I didn’t buy were the storm doors, because I needed help carrying them. I made sure to plan that pickup into our schedule.
I learned a couple of important things during my recon mission that helped me better plan our homeworkcation. This is why recon is so important.
I discovered the storm doors we wanted promise a 45-minute easy install. Since we planned to install two storm doors, I knew I needed to plan at least an hour and a half for that project. This was important to know, because other storm doors take up to two hours each to install. We still decided to double it to three hours since we knew we’d have interruptions from the kids.
4. How to Make it Fun and Memorable (in a good way)
One part of a homeworkcation is still vacation, so we wanted a healthy dose of fun to go along with the work. For us that meant planning in at least one fun thing each day, like going out to a favorite restaurant or grabbing a sweet treat, or a playdate for the kids.
The key is to plan for the play. If you don’t choose your fun activities in advance, they won’t happen.
We knew the kids would be with us the whole weekend, so it was important to balance our time with them and working on projects. We also tried to find small jobs they could help with so they felt included. We all worked hard and played hard together.
I color-coded our schedule using decorative tape. The orange areas are top priority projects, the blue areas are breaks and play times, and the yellow areas are bonus projects.
5. The Easiest Way to Plan the Work So You Get It All Done with Time to Spare for Fun
A homeworkcation is not the time to be spontaneous. To have the best time and get the most done, make a clear plan. And post it where everyone can see it.
Creating a realistic schedule will help you finalize your plans and really see how many projects you can get done. Resist the urge to pretend you can do more in less time. Make sure to do your recon so you have a realistic idea of how long each project will take.
Don’t forget to plan in the play time too.
We used a simple time-blocking strategy to create our schedule. I created a printable with two columns for each day, so we could divide and conquer on smaller projects.
Download your free printable brainstorming sheet and time-block schedule here.
- First, we filled in our top priority projects (in orange). For us that was anything on the list that had to be done before winter.
- Second, we filled in play time (in blue). We didn’t want to miss out on having fun, so we made sure to plan times to take a break and enjoy each other’s company. I tried to fill in a little play time after each major block of work. Those play times became our mini celebrations for the work we already completed.
- Lastly, we went back and filled in some “bonus” projects that we could complete time permitting (in yellow). These projects were mostly quick wins that we thought we could squeeze in, but weren’t disappointed if we didn’t.
The result: Best weekend ever.
We crossed almost everything off the list. We gave ourselves a pass on the fertilizer, since there was a cold snap. Other than that we completed all our top priority projects.
We have two beautiful new storm doors to protect and warm our home. We replaced all the outdoor lightbulbs. We did several other small, odd jobs. We squeezed in replacing the garbage disposal. And we celebrated it all by ordering a new dishwasher.
Amongst all that work, we also had two family movie nights, went out for a Hibachi lunch, went on a playdate with some dear friends, and snuck in a few sweet treats. So our boys thought it was the best weekend ever too.
The weekend was a big mix of working hard, playing harder, and loving on our home and each other. And that’s what we needed more than a vacation right now.
What will you tackle during your homeworkcation? Grab the free planner to brainstorm your projects and make your plan to be a weekend warrior.
I definitely need to plan one of these! Unfortunately, when most long weekends roll around, all I want to do is veg out :)
Michelle, Me too. But having a plan written out in advance helps with motivation. When ours rolled around I could have easily slept in, but my husband was checking out the schedule and ready to start crossing things off. It helps to have everyone involved.
I agree with the plan part. We are both handicapped now so we haven’t scooted right along like in days gone by. But I still accomplished over months –half a year??!!–to get my project mostly done. I hired an unemployed person who desperately needed money to assemble things and then install say the perfect clear overhang for our back doors. It really helps too. He assembled my bench and my gardening table that’s really my decor to hide the ugly plain narrow area I have meters. I had to plan what to put on this table as the water main pipe got in the way so he had to drill new holes so my second shelf was not wide. I found a design inspiration on a blog and purchased a couple antique items. I spent hours trying to decorate. My brain was tired but we worked as a team with hubby moving heavy things out of the way and helping dispose of all the old cushions to the homeless behind his office. But a heatwave left me hot. But because I had steps in place, and a goal in mind, I waited it out. With the help of a college student I was able to totally complete my goals of fixing up the patio area, side yard and bench staging and adding solar lighting as well. Mine would have been easily done in a couple week ends but by always starting with a plan, I feel like I am a bit better at adjusting to this new life of ours. You are sooo right that a plan works great. My big projects when my kids were little were my friend and I or my sister and I. Reward?? I can’t remember!!! But we found a day of letting kids make a mess and play as we did project that lasted years was worth the big mess cleanup time and they all helped too!! I hope we bought a treat!!! I like your way. Treat built into schedule lol
There are ALWAYS house projects to do around here and this post motivates me to plan ahead and get supplies lined up before Saturday morning rolls around. And making sure the kids are involved helps them learn what it takes to upkeep a home and helps them share in the pride of a job well-done. Valuable lessons. Thanks for the inspiration!