First off: My first two-post day!
A friend just e-mailed an article to me and a few other friends. The Washington Post has a story written about some time management stats out of the University of Maryland. According to John Robinson, a researcher and time management guru, moms and dads have plenty of free time. More than 30 hours a week, to be exact.
I’ll bet a lot of parents would balk at that number, as the Washington Post writer did, too. How could that be? We all work so hard. Kids make us crazy. Housework, bills, yard work. Where does 30 hours come from? You know what? I think Robinson is right. Even in this house, where we work really hard, we have downtime.
I go to the gym. I go to yoga. I see friends. I’m in a book club. I read. I watch television. I go to playdates. I take my little one to classes. I play Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. I read blogs — lots of them. I write this blog. I read to my girls. I play with my girls. I laugh with them. I am on a bowling league. I go to volunteer meetings at my local beach club. I go out for coffee or dinner with my husband. We play board games. We have our alone time. All those things add up in terms of hours. Just last night I went to an hour of spin and, when yoga was canceled, ended up meeting two friends at a local coffee house. I got home and watched an hour of TV with my husband. That was almost five hours of downtime. Granted, I stay up way too late, and I work a lot, but I’m still getting in plenty of me-time.
If you take the time to read through the entire Washington Post article you see that the author, who was resistant to the idea in the beginning, slowly comes to realize that she has more time than she thinks she does. When she first starts out, some of the folks in the story — including the author herself — bemoan the fact that a good portion of so-called “leisure time” is actually spent exercising or spending time with kids, which doesn’t always feel like leisure. But as the story unfolds the folks that she interviews help her to realize that to-do lists often don’t need to get done, and leisure time is what we make of it. The author wrote that she, as a working mom, did actually have close to those 30 hours of time — she had about 28 — but that it didn’t feel like leisure because she was too busy worrying and thinking about other things that needed to get done. “Even during a so-called leisure activity, mothers are more likely to be worried about something, planning what to pull together for dinner or strategizing. Sociologists call that ‘contaminated time,’ ” she quotes Rachel Connelly, a labor economist at Bowdoin College in Maine as saying.
I think this story is pretty interesting, and hopefully something that will give readers hope. As someone who has always been selfish and self-centered when it comes to taking me-time, I can say it helped me re-discover the fact that it’s a wonderful thing that I do take that extra time for myself. That it’s important. That it helps me feel like me and be a better journalist, wife, mother, and friend. How about you? what have you done for yourself lately? What do you count among your 30 hours of weekly leisure time?