This Week Will Never End


The End of the Golden Weather

The memories of my family outings are still a source of strength to me.
I remember we'd all pile into the car - I forget what kind it was - and drive and drive.
I'm not sure where we'd go, but I think there were some trees there.
The smell of something was strong in the air as we played whatever sport we played.
I remember a bigger, older guy we called "Dad."
We'd eat some stuff, or not, and then I think we went home.
I guess some things never leave you.

- Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

There aren't enough days in the weekend.

- Rod Schmidt

Deb Wood hasn't had a day off work in weeks.  The 29-year-old works two jobs, helping her husband run a popular cafe by night while pursuing her teaching career by day.  Time off, let alone a "weekend" is a bit of a novel concept.  Deb's lifestyle, it would seem, is typical of many New Zealanders.  A trend is emerging nationwide whereby people are working and earning more but having less time off.

A discussion paper "Recreation and Sport Strategy" released by the Christchurch City Council Leisure department reports that people are now choosing to work longer hours, with a real possibility that the death of the "weekend" may occur.  "Flexible work practices requiring work to be undertaken 7 days a week, 24 hours a day means that work patterns are more individualised and less predictable.  Consequently leisure time-blocks are unpredictable with the death of the weekend a real possibility."

The trend of people having less time off at the end of the week has been noticed by holiday resorts, around the country.  Bruce Crosby of the Papamoa Beach Holiday Resort says has been a distinct change in the way people spend their weekends.

"Ten to 12 years ago Mum, who didn't work, would pack up the caravan, which was in the backyard, on a Friday.  Dad would come home from work and the family would head off for the weekend.  These days there are no backyards, Mum and Dad both work full time and one, or possibly both, work on a Saturday.  This is a definite pattern that we have seen and it's not necessarily good news for families."

Domestic tourism statistics, researched and compiled by McDermott Fairgray for the government and presented at the NZTI conference, shows that when people do take time off, it's usually for shorter, but more frequent breaks.

Paul Yeo, marketing manager, Destination Lake Taupo, says that Taupo reflects the national trend of taking shorter, more frequent breaks, particularly at weekends.  "We are renowned as a weekend destination and we still get big numbers coming to Lake Taupo, its just that nowadays people seem to come down for one night instead of two.  By leaving early on the Saturday morning and staying later on the Sunday, people can keep the cost down and come back more often."

The same trend occurs at Papamoa Beach Holiday Resort, and as Bruce Crosby explains, when people do take weekend breaks, they no longer bring the caravan but hire accommodation with fuller facilities.  "We noticed an increase in popularity of tourist flats and accommodation that provides full facilities.  When people leave home they want to go somewhere where they can relax in comfort."

In turn, the demand for the likes of tourist cabins, tourist flats and studio units at holiday parks is increasing.  The Holiday Accommodation Parks Association of New Zealand (HAPNZ) has noticed an increase every year in this sort of accommodation with, for example the number of HAPNZ tourist flats increasing in number from 780 in 1999 to 8l9 in 2000.

Changes in employment, unemployment and personal wealth, are significant factors in the way people spend their time off.  According to the "Recreation and Sport Strategy" discussion document, "some [people] will have more free time through unemployment or underemployment but limited financial resources [but] many who are working will become time-poor and income rich.  These people will value time greatly and will look to maximise the quality of life in their free time."

According to Jill Genet, an independent consultant and member of the steering committee researching the discussion paper, it is pretty typical that a vast majority of us are working longer hours with little time left for leisure activities.  "It is absolutely true that people these days don't have 48-hour breaks in a row and it was clear in our findings that people will demand more programmed recreation activities, and will be prepared to pay for a quality service, when time permits," she says.  "Today people have higher expectations, shoddy provisions aren't good enough anymore.  Even if something is free, people still expect quality and people do prioritise their time."

Stuart Reid, owner of a suburban bike shop, works six days a week.  He loves his day off and spends it indulging in one of the many sports he enjoys.  For him to take more than one day off at a time, it has to be a special occasion, or well worth the money.  "I'm going to Wellington soon to organise some bike events and I'll be expecting quality things from the hotel and restaurants I go to.  For me to take time off and spend money rather than earn money, I expect quality."

So what does it take for people like Deb Wood and her partner, to take a weekend, or two days, off?

"I don't know, we haven't done it yet.  It's just a hassle getting some one to look after things while you're away, and then from a profit-making perspective, why pay someone to work for us?  If we had a good reason to go away, we probably would, but then we'd probably camp and go out for dinner, which we enjoy doing more."

And when they do go out, what do people with limited time expect from their service providers?  Courier driver Bradley Edwards works 60 hours a week and says for him to spend his time or money it has to be worthwhile.  "If I'm going to a restaurant, I like good food and good service; if it's to an event, I like it to be well organised."

Katy McRae works 45 to 50 hours a week in communications.  "I like efficiency.  I don't have time to wait when I go to a restaurant or cafe.  I guess I have a high level of expectation, even when the activities I take part in are free."

Personal sales consultant Vanessa Munro expects to get back some of the customer service she provides at work.  "I want to feel relaxed - almost to the point of being pampered - when I choose to spend my time or money going out."

Source: Wellington Today October 2000

Anticipating Monday Can Ruin Sunday

by Dr Joyce Brothers

Dear Dr Brothers: All the members of our two-career family begin to feel low after lunch on Sundays.  For my husband and me, it's because we know that we'll be heading back to work the next day; for our two kids, of course, it's because they know they'll be going back to school.  No matter how nice the day itself is or what we've planned, it's like this dark cloud is always hanging over it.  Is there anything we can do about this, and are we unusual?  Is something wrong with us?

- F V

Dear F V: Sunday lows and Monday blahs are not uncommon, but to me, this is a terrible waste of time.  If you think about it, what you're doing is throwing away many hours of a day that could be fun and exciting.  You're unable to focus on it and instead are thinking of what will be happening 20 hours later.  While it's important to be aware of and to prepare for the future, it's totally counterproductive to lose half of Sunday turning it into doom and gloom day.

One possible reason we get so down on Sunday is because many of us stay up late and party on Saturday night.  Some experts feel there might actually be another possible reason: our body rhythms, our natural biorhythms, might change on that 7th day.  In any case, you might try focusing on the moment so you can enjoy it.

Write to Dr Joyce Brothers in care of King Features, 235 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017

Source: Los Angeles Times Wednesday 8 November 2000

If you write to Dr Brothers, ask her for me why she didn't consider advising F V to make a more tangible change in her life than just to modify her bad attitude.

I just read in USA Today (24 Jul7 2003) that of 3,278 workers surveyed nationwide, 52% want to change jobs.  The article concluded that this study showed "a surprisingly confident, self-reliant workforce".  That's funny - I wouldn't have interpreted the data quite that way.  It would occur to me that maybe a lot of workers fear downsizing in their current jobs and would prefer to work for an employer who provides more security and/or who doesn't currently demand more for less these days as the price for job stability.  If they can find such an employer...

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