I come from a professional background (nursing) where working on weekends and public holidays is normal. This may be one of the reasons why I’ve offered lessons on Saturday and Sunday ever since I started as an online language teacher in 2012.
However, I realized that quite a few teachers don’t work on weekends. Or they do work on weekends but don’t like it. So I started a poll in my community for digital nomad online teachers and asked why or why not people work on weekends.
Why teachers don’t like to work on weekends
Some answers were obvious: Teachers who have a family prefer to have their weekends off. I remember that I didn’t always like to work on weekends at the hospital when my children were still small. Later on, when they were 15 or 16 years old, it didn’t matter that much anymore because they didn’t want to spend every weekend with their mum, anyway.
Other teachers mentioned their social life. Working on weekends makes it more difficult to get to know people and have a social life. True, of course.
But why is a Monday to Friday working week so important even for people who don’t have a family and who live as digital nomads? Doesn’t it mean that we’re still caught in that Mo-Fri/9-5 trap?
I hate Sundays
Even before I became a digital nomad, I traveled alone most of the time. I’ve never had a problem with it but it often felt a bit awkward on Sundays. I find myself strolling through the streets in the afternoon and am reluctant to enter a café. They always full and as an introvert, I hate crowded places.
But even worse: It is very rare to see someone sitting alone at a table. That’s different on weekdays and even on Saturdays. When I don’t teach, I like to sit at cafés taking my laptop with me. It doesn’t feel lonely, I find it interesting to observe other people a bit, listen to different languages. But on Sundays, I do feel lonely and like an outsider when I’m sitting alone at a café.
So that’s one reason why Sundays are normal working days for me. I mean, I can always change my schedule when I know that I spend some time at a place where I know people who normally have time on the weekend only.
Why taking days off on weekdays is often a better option
The other reason is practical. I certainly need time off, too but why the heck should I choose the weekend? It’s generally more expensive to travel on weekends, prices for accommodation rise and places are crowded. There’s absolutely no need for me to make myself dependent on this. Same with public holidays, by the way. People tend to be surprised when I tell them that I offer lessons at Christmas. Should I rather stay all alone at home, doing nothing and wasting the day? Christmas isn’t celebrated all over the world, I’ve already worked with students from Asia on those days – or from Russia because their Christmas only takes place in January.
Is there a demand for lessons on the weekend?
It varies and I can’t figure out why. Two years ago, I had crazy Saturdays, opening 9 one-hour slots between 10 am and 11 pm. And most of them were booked. At the moment, I just offer two hours on Saturdays and it happens that I have the day off because nobody books them. On the other hand, my Sunday slots tend to fill up quickly at the moment. It may depend on the time zone you’re in, perhaps also on the language you’re teaching.
Personally, I think there’s a demand for everything and this includes language lessons on weekends. If you feel fine teaching on weekends, do it. If not, stick to your Monday – Friday schedule.
Getting rid of boundaries
However, why should we let society’s rules set us boundaries? If there are rules at all. Sunday used to be the only day off until a few decades ago. When I went to school in Germany in the 1970’s, I still had lessons on Saturdays. Christian institutions as well as trade unions regard the Sunday as something almost holy. In the German-speaking countries, shops and supermarkets are still closed on Sundays. That’s not the case in most other countries. There are so many people working on weekends.
We need time off but as freelancers, we have the possibility to decide ourselves when to take this time off. At the beginning of October, I’ll be in Uruguay with a friend I haven’t seen for more than a year. On those days, I’m not going to spend 5 – 6 hours a day in front of the computer. It doesn’t matter to me which day it is, I have the freedom to decide that I will cut down my hours for some days and this is what matters to me.
In summary, I don’t want to convince everyone to work on weekends from now on but I’d like you to ask yourself why it’s important for you to have Saturday and Sunday off. You may have a good reason and that’s fine. Or you may find that it’s a relict from your former office job (if you had one) which you may want to get rid of.
What do you think? Tell me in the comments!