Sundays in Basel

Now that we live in Switzerland, I’m kind of falling in love with Sunday.

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Sundays are quiet here. 95% of the shops and restaurants are closed.  You are not allowed, by law, to do work that makes noise. No lawn mowing. No weed-whacking. No laundry. No running any appliance inside that makes noise loud enough to be heard by the neighbors. This is family time.

I feel like it’s the sort of thing we Americans are striving for – more family time.  How many people have on their list of New Year’s resolutions the goal of “find a work-life balance”? Or “spend more time with family”?  Here in Switzerland work-life balance is so important they have actually put in laws in place that help to achieve it.  We actually get days off for obscure religious holidays, as well, to also encourage family time.

Mark’s work hours also reflect this dedication to family time.  He works from 9am to 6pm and if he works later than .  Because he doesn’t have to be there until 9am, he takes the kids to school in the morning a three days a week.  This give him 30 extra minutes every day to sit and read with them on the tram.

The school and employers also work towards more family time.  Schools let out at noon so the children can go home for a 2 hour lunch.  My neighbor, Barbara, tells me that the typical Swiss employer also gives their workers about 1.5 to 2 hours off for lunch everyday.  She, a German, heartily agrees that the concept of family time is very sacred here.

So, that brings us to Sunday.  The only places open are museums or other family-oriented businesses.  Heaven help you if you haven’t picked up food to last you for the weekend.  You might be able to find something at the train station, but you will pay through the nose for it.

Our typical Sunday includes making waffles or enjoying chocolate bread Mark picked up the day before. We read books. We play board games.  We join the hoards at the park up the street.  I make some sort of elaborate dish that requires hours of cooking time for dinner and we smell it cook all afternoon.  It’s peaceful.

I wonder what would happen if families in the States tried this?  If everyone just stayed around the house or went to a park together?  How would that affect our society? Our environment?

Just another thing to ponder.

But if one of you actually tried this, say for a month as an experiment, I would be really interested to hear about it!


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