How to Survive a Government Shutdown: 10 Tips from a “Nonessential” Employee

14 Oct

By Nonessential Capitol Jill

(Coworker humor)

Having been declared nonessential at work, I have had two full weeks of unpaid, unplanned vacation. I am sure many of you across the district and the country are in the same boat. And while this whole situation is not ideal, I have been trying to enjoy my unexpected time off. Below are some of the things I have been doing to keep busy and sane, SR style.

1. Drink 


This is obviously number one on my list when I have inordinate amounts of free time.

Have you seen the great deals offered to furlough employees? These bars are practically giving it away for free! Head to any hill bar and you are bound to see many non-essentials hanging out. Here’s a list, and this  one and this one, in case you’ve been in the dark. Personal recommendations include Capitol Lounge (free draft beer with government ID) and Vendetta (free prosecco with government ID!)

2. Snapchat pictures of your day to your working friends and fellow bloggers

It makes them jealous and makes you seem cooler.  Bonus points if you do it multiple times in one day. I know the fellow SR ladies have been quite happy to receive photos of my day drinking.

3. Exercise

But really, though. All that drinking adds up pretty quickly, not to mention that you have absolutely nothing else to do. I for one decided to kick off a new “healthy” lifestyle this furlough (minus the booze). I have been running on the nice days and doing indoor strength workouts on the other days. By the way, I am currently obsessed with Blogilates, a totally free YouTube workout series with a bubbly host that will actually bring you to tears, but in the best way possible ( I did the one below today and holy crap it hurt!). Take this time to establish healthy habits that you can carry over into the working days, and burn off some of those beverages. Its also nice to get out of the house once in a while.

4. Furlough fundays! Adventures!

This is the time to do wacky things with your friends that you don’t usually get to do. Go out on a tuesday? Check out a new gallery? (yes, the Smithsonians are closed, but several other museums have stepped up and are open and free) Perhaps go on a brewery tour in a part of town you have never explored — I checked out 3 Stars Brewing Company, and had a great time learning about the science of beer making and getting inappropriately intoxicated at 2 PM.

5. Embrace your inner domestic goddess

I never have time to really cook or bake like I wish I could.So these past few weeks have been very domestic!  I’ve made crockpot meals, big chopped salads, muffins (these ones!) and baked goods galore. I deep cleaned my carpets, washed my baseboards, and cleaned my closet. Got a project you want to start? Now’s the time! I made (and failed at) several pinterest crafts, and finally started my photo gallery wall project. There are so many hours in the day when you aren’t working!

6. Take some “me” time

(Not this kind of facemask, though)

Think of these weeks as perpetual “me” days, the mental health days you are forced to take. Revamp your wardrobe, take naps, do your nails, deep condition your hair, etc. Recently, for example, I took a full bath WHILE giving myself a facial. And yes, I was drinking wine at the same time. Pamper evenings/days will make you feel better about yourself and enjoy this time off.

7. Drink more, with your fellow furlough friends

Those specials I mentioned? Its more fun to bring friends along to those. Each few days, my fellow furloughees and I would pick a different area and bounce from bar special to bar special. We got to try some fun new places, explore different neighborhoods, and take advantage of the best deals! Bonus points if you can link this up with free food deals as well – for example, all the Jose Andres restaurants are offering a FREE sandwich to furloughed workers. I went to Oyamel yesterday, and got an awesome quesadilla. (To wash it down, I bought a margarita, so I felt really good about it!)

8. Sleep as much as you please

I slept in till 11 today. I felt like I was in college again.

9. Catch up on the your shows or start a new one

You finally have time to finish up this season of Doctor Who! Or catch up on Scandal, start watching House of Cards, etc. Whatever your fancy, Netflix and OnDemand will get you through these dark lonely days. I can personally recommend Coupling – it is like a British version of How I Met Your Mother. Another good one to start is Firefly (Joss Whedon genius, and only one season plus a movie to catch up on! Belle En Route would approve!) The best way to describe that is the wild west, but in space.

10. Cleanse your liver. You’ve done a lot of drinking!

For example, eat mustard greens. They detoxify your liver. I also recommend a healthy kale and banana smoothie in the morning! Your body will thank you. Hydrate, try to eat healthy, and take care of yourself. The fall is only going to get more intense, and cold and flu season is coming up!

I hope these tips help you survive this government shutdown and make being without work and pay a little better. Fingers crossed that our back pay gets restored and we can once again join the productive, working world!

Do you have any other tips for me and fellow furloughed peeps? Tweet them at us @stoprequesteddc or leave them in the comments below

Until then,


Capitol Jill

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