5 things that keep you from relaxing at the cottage (and how to fix them)

When you venture to the cottage, the goal is to be living your best life in your favourite Muskoka chair—not running around completing chores, slapping at the mosquitos, and cooking yet another meal for a slew of guests. You’ve worked hard all week, so this is your chance to soak up some R&R with a good book, great tunes, and that pristine lake view.

Unfortunately, as any cottager knows, many tasks can keep you out of that “lake hair, don’t care” mode. If you find that you’re spending more time taking care of business than relaxing during your long weekend, here are some tips for tackling the five biggest cottage nuisances and reclaiming your Zen. 

Those pesky mosquitos

There’s nothing worse than lounging on your deck only to be swarmed by a scourge of blood-thirsty mosquitoes. Prevent the pests altogether by dumping any standing water and wearing lightweight protective clothing. Be sure to keep your screens up to snuff so that those buggers don’t get inside, and when you’re outside, consider Thermacell’s Zone Mosquito Repellent, a compact, portable, and stylish device that creates a 15-foot protection zone around your deck without the use of any smelly candles or sprays. You’ll be amazed by how well it works the next time you’re kicking back on your cottage deck.

Making all the meals

No one wants to spend their cottage weekend in front of a hot stove. To avoid the hassle of preparing endless meals all weekend long, bring as many ready-to-go meals, bagged salads, and pre-assembled spreads as possible. Cut and wash fruits and veggies before you go, cook up rice, quinoa, or grains for hearty salads and sides, and marinade meats ahead of time for juicy but easy-to-barbecue dinner options. The barbecue is a cottager’s best friend: throwing a variety of meats, veggies, and even fruit like pineapple or peaches on the grill means you can still get dinner done like a boss while enjoying the great outdoors with a frosty beverage in hand. 

Chores, chores, and more chores

Life can feel like a never-ending list of tasks, can’t it? Busy schedules, constant appointments, and all of those things that need fixing around the house are exactly why you can’t wait to escape to the cottage for a few days in the first place. So having a honey-do list at the cottage is more than a nuisance—it’s a mood killer. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of chores and not let them pile up. When you arrive, spend a few minutes inspecting things that may need to be done and separate the necessary from the not-so-pressing. If you can, tackle one or two things as soon as possible so that they’re out of the way early. Then you can spend the rest of your time relaxing. Make a checklist, and be sure to resolve little problems or chores (that small tear in the screen) before they become big problems (easy access for raccoons and other critters). 

The never-ending guest list

If you own a cottage, odds are you’re always entertaining guests, which can be as much of a job as anything else—even when you’re super tight with your visitors. Manage your guest list with a calendar, and be sure to schedule a few family-only weekends to avoid burnout. And when you do have guests, don’t be afraid to ask them to pitch in by either lending a hand with certain chores or contributing a few potluck-style items. Heck, while you’re at it, why not ask them to take care of one or two complete meals so that you can kick back.

That unpredictable weather

Ah, the Canadian weather—hot, cold, and always unpredictable. While it’s nice to think that in theory every weekend away will be a blissfully sunny one, that’s not always the case. And while you venture to the cottage for a chance to relax outside, that doesn’t mean a shoddy forecast has to ruin all the fun. Pack your closet full of board games, puzzles, reading material, and adult colouring books and pencil crayons (don’t forget a sharpener) that you can easily break out when skies turn grey. Keep a list of local attractions like unique museums and small movie theatres for when you need a change of scenery, and don’t be afraid to explore small gift shops and antique stores—you never know what hidden gems they might have to offer.