What I Do With My Day Off: Pastor Eric


Over the years, having Monday as my day off has changed. It used to consist of taking a 1 and 3-year-old to the zoo or a family picnic in the park followed by lazy afternoons and naps. This year our oldest is in Kindergarten and Krista is substitute teaching, so Mondays look different as I now stay home with my 4-year-old sidekick.

First, plan ahead.

My day off typically starts the night before. My children have been skillfully programmed to ask, “What are we doing tomorrow?” They never ask once. It’s usually 3 times. Twice before bed and once conveniently after they have been tucked into bed. They’ve inherited this question and quality from me because I’m always planning tomorrow… especially my day off. Planning ahead is more than making a list of things to fill up my day. Instead, I am visualizing what goals need to happen so I can be most productive. 

Start with an easy win.

My morning usually starts with organizing something. Sometimes it’s a junk drawer, the pantry, or a collection of random toys which have migrated into the middle of the living room. With a 4 and 6-year-old, there is always something that can be thrown away or returned to where it belongs. Being obsessive compulsive isn’t a disorder, it’s a gift. Starting the day by cleaning and organizing gives me an immediate sense of accomplishment. I am motivated by accomplishment. My day starts at zero and by the end of the day, I have this nagging sense that I have to achieve something. So for me, cleaning the house and organizing things not only helps wrangle in the messes… it motivates me to do more.  Big projects often take hours or weeks to accomplish, but organizing the desk only takes 5 minutes and starts the day with an easy win.

Be intentional and go outside.

If you visit the Carlson’s, don’t ask for our Wi-Fi password. We don’t have one. Somehow we have managed to survive in the 21st Century without internet or cable TV. Living without internet or cable simply works for us and has forced us to be outside.  Mowing the grass, pulling weeds, blowing leaves, picking up sticks, dropping dead trees, cleaning the garage, and clearing ATV trails in the woods are a few of the things on my endless list of things I do outside. Starting the week with a clean garage and all my outdoor projects complete helps me get a jump-start on the rest of the week so I can enter the week ahead of things and don’t feel like I am scrambling to catch up.

Do something you don’t typically do.

Krista hates that I say this since we only live 4 miles from the heart of Danville… but usually, on my day off I like to go into town—and by town, I mean Wal-Mart. More than picking up groceries, it’s talking through options with my four-year-old daughter. Krista does most of the shopping, so this is something fun for me. Picking up groceries is something I don’t typically do. Plus, shopping with a four-year-old is a blast. It’s making real-life decisions like which cereal we should buy this week. It’s walking down the aisles we don’t normally shop just to explore new things. It’s about conversations of contentment and learning to say “no” to the things we don’t need. Practically, this puts food on the table and fills the pantry with sometimes questionable items. Most important it is one less trip that Krista has to take with two kids hanging off the shopping cart. By the way, do you know you can buy chicken feet at Wal-Mart? 

Create a moment you love.

Every Monday afternoon at 2:45, I shout, “Saddle up!” as Piper and I jump onto the four-wheeler and ride out to the bus stop at the end of the road as we wait for Haddon to come running off the bus with his oversized backpack. This is much anticipated. From here we explore tree lines and pipelines. Sometimes we are on the road… usually, we are off the road. We cut through trails and blaze new paths through the woods. For a 6-year-old who can’t reach the clutch but thinks he has mastered driving and a 4-year-old who hugs me as tight as she possibly can… this is the moment I’ve been waiting for all week. Sandwiched between my kids, this is the best part of the week. 

Be home and be present.

After a full day, Krista comes home and hopefully the house is a little bit cleaner than when she left. Haddon comes home after a busy day of Kindergarten. Piper and I have enjoyed some one-on-one time and finally, we are all home. This is most critical part of the day. This is the time to be home and be present. This is family time. Right now I have the benefit that my children are young and actually want to do things with me. The seasons bring many changes, so there are always new things to experience. We jump on the trampoline.  We watch a movie. We build something. We grill out. We go sledding. We go biking. We shoot pop cans. We take a walk through the woods and go exploring. We go swimming. The point is—we do something together. Sometimes it’s the whole family with the dog and cat trailing behind, and sometimes it’s just me and the kids. Regardless, we are together.

This is what my day off looks like, what about you? More than relaxing on your day off, create a weekly rhythm that restores and energizes you. Learn what motivates you and go after those things. Don’t waste your day off, because it is “free time”. Do things that set up the rest of your week so you are ahead of life and not frantically falling behind. I know for me, the most important thing is having a consistent day to re-center myself and re-engage with my family. The days are long, the nights are full, the weekends are crazy busy. For me, having Monday as my day off has been life-giving and has sustained me in ministry.