Is all free time "leisure time"?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  February 22, 2010 12:31 PM

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Talking on the phone. Standing in line at the post office. Answering emails. Packing school lunches. Reading to your kids. Taking your kids to soccer practice. Helping them with their science projects. Going to church. Going to the grocery store. Going to the dentist. Just because you're not at work doesn't mean you have free time... or does it?

Sociologist and researcher John Robinson told the Washington Post last month that, in spite of the fact that we feel busier than ever, parents -- even ones who work full-time outside of the home -- have at least 30 hours of leisure time at their disposal each week. Awake and not working? That's leisure time -- even if you're chauffeuring your kids around.

It seems like we're looking at the flip side of a coin here: Now that society accepts unpaid labor (like childcare) as work, how do we define free time? And shouldn't leisure be about quality, not quantity?

In an article, reporter Brigid Schulte talked to experts and tried to figure out where all her time goes. Like many other working moms out there, she was particularly galled by Robinson's assertion that "women have more leisure now than they did in the 1960s."

I think a lot depends on how you define "leisure." According to the way Robinson measures it, the time I spend alone in my car is leisure time; I call it "my commute" (and, occasionally, "Oh-holy-#$%&*-I'm-late-for-pickup-at-school!") He'd classify the time I spent gathering background information for this and other articles as leisure because I did when I wasn't at the office; I call it "part of my job." Childcare is not classified as leisure, he says, and neither is paid work or housework, but pretty much everything else -- the time you spend at the gym, on the phone, or running errands, for example -- is. Even if you have your kids in tow.

But is it fair to label as "leisure" any time spent not pulling down a paycheck? I don't think so. Waiting at the doctor's office with a sick child doesn't feel like leisure to me, no matter what the time researchers say.

I think that maybe weíre more likely to consider an activity as ďleisure timeĒ if we enjoy it. So, sitting in the car for two hours because itís broken down and AAA hasnít arrived yet = not leisure time. But spending two hours laughing and talking with your friends as you drive somewhere = leisure time. Likewise, cramming for a French exam = not leisure time. Studying French because you want to learn how to speak the language = leisure time. And I love my children dearly, but schleping them from place to place or referring fights or supervising homework does not, to me, feel like leisure.

Meagan Francis at The Happiest Mom echoed the thoughts of many when she wrote: "Yes, it may be a bit hard to swallow the fact that Robinson, an unmarried, childless man seems to be telling moms with spouses and young, needy children and demanding jobs to stop and smell the roses." But there's away around the resentment, she says: "We can also move toward seeing our kids as more than a job, more than an obligation, and think of them as a big part of our leisure time."

Parents, what do you think? How much of your free time do you also think of as leisure time?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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27 comments so far...
  1. i think of leisure time as both me time and quality time with the family. taking kids to the doctor = not leisure time. going to the park for the day = leisure time.
    gimme a break!
    considering both me and my spouse work outside of the home, my spouse works 2 jobs, and two kids - leisure time is about 9-10 (my bedtime) every night.

    Posted by lala February 22, 10 03:35 PM
  1. I'm a working mom and I agree with the sociologist.

    I always considered my day done the second I picked up my son at school, whatever was on the schedule next.

    If we start seeing life as work we miss the point of life.

    Posted by Michele February 22, 10 04:40 PM
  1. John Robinson is 74 years old! No wonder he's so deluded. He sounds pretty typical for a man his age and I bet his wife did all the child rearing.

    Posted by Moogie February 22, 10 04:44 PM
  1. I am a working single mother of a 3 year old. I have 9 awake hours each week that I am not either at my job or with my daughter. Within that 9 hours I try and do all the things I cant do with her at my side, scrub the bathtub, bleach her toys, vacuum - is that your definition of LEISURE? Being at the park with her is leisure - cleaning up after a toddler with the stomach bug - NOT LEISURE.
    I love all these experts on being a mother from someone who has no children.

    Posted by Hailey's mom February 22, 10 04:47 PM
  1. Trying going back to the level of unproductivity and crude household technology from the 60's. I'm sure you'd have ALOT less leisure time when you had to write letters by hand, wash clothes and hang them on a clothes line, and spend hours on a meal. Things always get better, its just hard to tell subjectively, day-to-day. Nobody has enough leisure time; if you did, it wouldn't seem special. Cut the whining.

    Posted by Mark D. February 22, 10 04:53 PM
  1. Wow. Chauffeuring kids is considered leisure time? Shouldn't it be referred to as "taking a ride," then? Based on Ms. Alphonse's commentary, Mr. Robinson implies that parenting is not work. Yet if we didn't do many of these things, we'd have to pay someone else to do them. (The learning to speak French analogy is a perfect way to describe it.) I'm a full-time mom (one toddler) who was able to keep my job (and go part-time), working mostly from home. I consider this a blessing. The best of both worlds. Yet it's amazingly difficult. It's hard WORK. The toughest job I'll ever love. But I consider both to be my jobs. I have to assume that Mr. Robinson never has been home w/ a toddler 24/7 or had teenagers and carpools and sports and scouts or any parenting responsibilities whatsoever because a man as well-educated as he likely is would be intelligent enough to realize that, even if you don't get paid, parenting truly is work.

    Posted by Sharon February 22, 10 04:56 PM
  1. This is what happens when a society is full of adults enslaved to their children. We have replaced manual work with unnecessary "activities" for our kids. Adults cease to be independent, thinking, living people and instead become servants to their children. It is a sad way to exist.

    Posted by Mary and Julius February 22, 10 05:50 PM
  1. Does this guy John Robinson have any kids? Good luck trying to convince me that watching your kids is "leisure time".

    Posted by Damon February 22, 10 06:27 PM
  1. Absolutely preposterous to think of commute time, trips to the doctor, etc. as leisure time. Packing lunches and taking kids anywhere is not leisure time. It's child care. Hence the lack of leisure. Leisure is Wii or a quiet walk in the woods or catching a movie (which I barely remember) or a fancy dinner with the husband (which maybe happened before kids, don't remember that either) or maybe soaking in a hot nicely fragranced tub. You're fired, Robinson.

    Posted by illsik01 February 22, 10 07:15 PM
  1. This expert is off his nut. Work has expanded to fill whatever leisure time working or non-working mothers may have once had. Employers think nothing of the staff bringing home hours of work each night, or demanding 24x7 access via Blackberry. Add that to mom responsibilities (even with a helpful dad in residence). I don't count housework time as leisure; nor do I count supervising homework; routine cooking, running errands or chauffeuring as leisure.

    I do count voluntary time enjoying the company of my family as leisure (even cooking together on weekends). Days here run from 5:30am through midnight (counting work), and I get a half hour on Sunday after the last load of laundry on Sunday night. My stay at home mother, with no "modern conveniences" had more free time with kids and friends in a week than I do in a year.

    If we didn't need the money for the kids college and retirement, I'd quit in a minute.

    Posted by SlaveMom February 22, 10 08:37 PM
  1. There is personal leisure time and quality family time and they are not the same. I love my son and the moment I pick him up at day care or walk in the door (when my husband has picked him up) is our time together to talk about our days, have dinner, play, read; but MY time starts after our son is in bed, the dinner dishes are done, lunches are made for the next day and my husband and I can relax in front of the tv and chill. Commuting is NOT leisure time, it's part of the work day. Responding to this nonsense article by a man who is clearly out of touch with the real world - that's leisure time too :)

    Posted by Working Mama February 22, 10 09:03 PM
  1. Who the hell cares what we call it? What actually hangs in the balance here?

    Posted by geocool February 23, 10 11:07 AM
  1. Leisure is defined as: a period of time spent free from the demands of work or duty. By that definition, the researcher is wrong. Shopping for groceries is a duty. Commuting is a duty. Laundry is a duty. As for me, if I'm not relaxing and enjoying myself, it's not leisure time. Leisure implies recreation, not doing dishes.

    Posted by Noah February 23, 10 12:31 PM
  1. Wow. That guy has got to be crazy. As a parent of three, even when I start cleaning the house shortly after I put the kids down to sleep is not leisure time. The author has absolutely not credibility in my book (simply because he is not a parent). In fairness, I will say that going to the gym is leisure time - I guess so is feeding my face, right!

    Posted by cman February 23, 10 01:55 PM
  1. Hmmmm.....so the time I spend shoveling out from a blizzard = leisure time.
    The sad thing is, this John Robinson fraud probably got paid big bucks to come up with this drivel.
    Good work if you can get it.

    Posted by Beetle February 23, 10 02:23 PM
  1. After reading this article, I have to say - I'm really ticked off at this idiot and anyone who says my time not making money is just leisure time. I have a daughter who was born with a two tumors. One tumor was on her lung and one on her liver. The first year of her life we spent the equivalent of 3 - 4 months in the hospital and doctor visits. Now, three years later, my son was born with kidney failure. Again we spent 3 - 4 months of time waiting and visiting doctors in hospitals. Between the two we spend at least 8-16 hours a month visiting children's hospital. Not including the hour and half commute to and from the hospital. We donít want anyone to feel bad for us because we are actually fortunate to have two beautiful children, but donít tell me that this is fun. That this isnít work or that we should feel fortunate for having all this free time. We don't enjoy spending our day offs and vacation time dealing with these issues. We would much rather spend our time going out to dinner or going to the movies. If I saw this guy in person, Iím angry enough right now that I would punch him in the nose.

    Posted by Joe February 23, 10 02:57 PM
  1. So, let me see if I understand this.

    If I pay someone to take care of my child, what she does is work. If I do it, its leisure time?

    Though I do think going to the gym is leisure time. Just feels like work.

    Posted by ash February 23, 10 03:29 PM
  1. To the many bashers of John Robinson - your comments show pretty clearly that you have not even read the Washington Post article this blog post comments on, let alone studying the time-use research in any detail.

    Do make an effort to understand the man's point of view before declaring it "drivel", "nonsense", or worth a punch in the nose. Otherwise, instead of showing him wrong you are only exposing your limitations.

    Posted by HBX February 23, 10 03:52 PM
  1. hey HBX- guess we dont have enough of this 'leisure time' to make the effort to understand his point or read the Post.

    Posted by mommabear February 23, 10 05:12 PM
  1. What job demands you be on call 24/7 without any scheduled time off?
    When you are a parent you never have any time to call your own. You must always be "at the ready". You can never say, "I'm going to spend the next 3 hours doing what I want to do". You must be Infinitely available. I wonder how long this fellow would last as a real parent. Walk a mile in my shoes, as they say.

    Karen Wepsic
    Mother of a 40 year-old
    Been there, done that.

    Posted by Karen Wepsic February 23, 10 06:44 PM
  1. Even when I'm spending time with my 4 year old playing with her, it doesn't mean it's Leisure for me. I play Candyland, draw, play pretend and all that other stuff, but I have to remove my 'adult' self from the scenario. Whatever thoughts and needs I have at that time are put aside for her benefit. This in itself is very taxing. When we are doing things as a family, such as hiking, I consider that leisure. When we were young, meals got cooked, clothes got laundered (even dried in the dryer Mark D), letters written, conversations with friends over coffee and the phone were done. This is what they were doing when we were out, making our own playdates, coming home when the streetlights came on, doing our own homework and riding to our games on our bicycles. Most mom's probably couldn't shuffle kids all around cause most families I knew only had 1 car. Also 1 tv - whiched we all watched together. This guy may be 74, but there are still many men out there who are still asking their wives "What did you DO all day?"

    Posted by OldMama February 23, 10 07:02 PM
  1. By definition, "leisure" is the freedom to choose a pastime or enjoyable activity. If you are not FREE TO CHOOSE an activity (e.g. waiting for a doctor, picking up the kids, making dinner, cleaning up after someone) you are not spending time in your leisure.

    The free time between these tasks can be quite enjoyable with anyone you love, either the children, the spouse or the family pet. Sometimes it is the non-leisure activity that puts us in the position to enjoy each other.

    Posted by Michael from Lexington, MA February 23, 10 11:07 PM
  1. I call it "recovery time"...

    Posted by ME February 24, 10 08:26 AM
  1. I am a nurse and a mom of three. I actually look forward going to my job (an RN in a very busy ICU) as a break from my hard work at home!!! Taking care of three young kids is not leisure....it is physically and mentally demanding. I completely agree with post #20 Karen above. At least at work I can go to lunch and the bathroom without being interrupted!

    Posted by Mom of 3 February 24, 10 11:00 AM
  1. I'm a widower with 3 kids. I didn't choose the widower part. I squeeze in 7 hours sleep. I started reading this yesterday morning. I suppose the half hour I go online before I start waking up the kids for school is leisure time. Otherwise I agree with the nurse above: my professional work is less stressful than any time the kids aren't in school. Even if I'm not doing something productive, if I'm on call, and it's rare I can go 15 minutes without hearing "Dad!", that's not leisure time.
    I'm paid by the hour, so it's hard to justify taking a mental health day, or even a mental health hour. Taking the bus to work means an hour of "me time": I can't do much more than meditate, but at least there's nothing else I could be doing while the bus is stuck in traffic -- but that's still an hour's less pay coming in to the family. I'm lucky I'm a contractor -- if I were a salaried employee, I doubt my employer would tolerate these hours. When I've been unemployed I spend the school day recovering from getting them to school (harder, and often unsuccessful, when they know I'll be home), looking for work, and doing housework. My wife was somewhat an invalid before her death, but I had moral support, and companionship, and someone who would be the primary on-call for some hours, though she was needy herself. I figure after the youngest is away at college, in 8 years or so, I can have my nervous breakdown and finish mourning my wife.

    Posted by Fishwood February 25, 10 07:06 AM
  1. Ahh, leisure. I remember leisure.

    Posted by Stefan @ www.dadtoday.com February 25, 10 11:55 PM
  1. When you lose yourself in an interest you love, you find yourself. When you are so wrapped up in doing something purely for the deep enjoyment that it gives you, the inner you come alive. This sort of experience can of course happen at work but you do that for the money. Leisure is an experience of the mind, the good feeling you get when you are doing something you freely choose to do for the love of it and for no other reason than the joy it gives you. It has nothing to do with time, because while you are enjoying a true leisure interest, time seems to stand still and your stresses temporarily (at least) disappear.
    It can happen at any time of the week and includes 'switch off' interests at the height of a busy stressful day.

    Posted by Peter Nicholls, Australia's People Gardener March 1, 10 02:17 AM
 
27 comments so far...
  1. i think of leisure time as both me time and quality time with the family. taking kids to the doctor = not leisure time. going to the park for the day = leisure time.
    gimme a break!
    considering both me and my spouse work outside of the home, my spouse works 2 jobs, and two kids - leisure time is about 9-10 (my bedtime) every night.

    Posted by lala February 22, 10 03:35 PM
  1. I'm a working mom and I agree with the sociologist.

    I always considered my day done the second I picked up my son at school, whatever was on the schedule next.

    If we start seeing life as work we miss the point of life.

    Posted by Michele February 22, 10 04:40 PM
  1. John Robinson is 74 years old! No wonder he's so deluded. He sounds pretty typical for a man his age and I bet his wife did all the child rearing.

    Posted by Moogie February 22, 10 04:44 PM
  1. I am a working single mother of a 3 year old. I have 9 awake hours each week that I am not either at my job or with my daughter. Within that 9 hours I try and do all the things I cant do with her at my side, scrub the bathtub, bleach her toys, vacuum - is that your definition of LEISURE? Being at the park with her is leisure - cleaning up after a toddler with the stomach bug - NOT LEISURE.
    I love all these experts on being a mother from someone who has no children.

    Posted by Hailey's mom February 22, 10 04:47 PM
  1. Trying going back to the level of unproductivity and crude household technology from the 60's. I'm sure you'd have ALOT less leisure time when you had to write letters by hand, wash clothes and hang them on a clothes line, and spend hours on a meal. Things always get better, its just hard to tell subjectively, day-to-day. Nobody has enough leisure time; if you did, it wouldn't seem special. Cut the whining.

    Posted by Mark D. February 22, 10 04:53 PM
  1. Wow. Chauffeuring kids is considered leisure time? Shouldn't it be referred to as "taking a ride," then? Based on Ms. Alphonse's commentary, Mr. Robinson implies that parenting is not work. Yet if we didn't do many of these things, we'd have to pay someone else to do them. (The learning to speak French analogy is a perfect way to describe it.) I'm a full-time mom (one toddler) who was able to keep my job (and go part-time), working mostly from home. I consider this a blessing. The best of both worlds. Yet it's amazingly difficult. It's hard WORK. The toughest job I'll ever love. But I consider both to be my jobs. I have to assume that Mr. Robinson never has been home w/ a toddler 24/7 or had teenagers and carpools and sports and scouts or any parenting responsibilities whatsoever because a man as well-educated as he likely is would be intelligent enough to realize that, even if you don't get paid, parenting truly is work.

    Posted by Sharon February 22, 10 04:56 PM
  1. This is what happens when a society is full of adults enslaved to their children. We have replaced manual work with unnecessary "activities" for our kids. Adults cease to be independent, thinking, living people and instead become servants to their children. It is a sad way to exist.

    Posted by Mary and Julius February 22, 10 05:50 PM
  1. Does this guy John Robinson have any kids? Good luck trying to convince me that watching your kids is "leisure time".

    Posted by Damon February 22, 10 06:27 PM
  1. Absolutely preposterous to think of commute time, trips to the doctor, etc. as leisure time. Packing lunches and taking kids anywhere is not leisure time. It's child care. Hence the lack of leisure. Leisure is Wii or a quiet walk in the woods or catching a movie (which I barely remember) or a fancy dinner with the husband (which maybe happened before kids, don't remember that either) or maybe soaking in a hot nicely fragranced tub. You're fired, Robinson.

    Posted by illsik01 February 22, 10 07:15 PM
  1. This expert is off his nut. Work has expanded to fill whatever leisure time working or non-working mothers may have once had. Employers think nothing of the staff bringing home hours of work each night, or demanding 24x7 access via Blackberry. Add that to mom responsibilities (even with a helpful dad in residence). I don't count housework time as leisure; nor do I count supervising homework; routine cooking, running errands or chauffeuring as leisure.

    I do count voluntary time enjoying the company of my family as leisure (even cooking together on weekends). Days here run from 5:30am through midnight (counting work), and I get a half hour on Sunday after the last load of laundry on Sunday night. My stay at home mother, with no "modern conveniences" had more free time with kids and friends in a week than I do in a year.

    If we didn't need the money for the kids college and retirement, I'd quit in a minute.

    Posted by SlaveMom February 22, 10 08:37 PM
  1. There is personal leisure time and quality family time and they are not the same. I love my son and the moment I pick him up at day care or walk in the door (when my husband has picked him up) is our time together to talk about our days, have dinner, play, read; but MY time starts after our son is in bed, the dinner dishes are done, lunches are made for the next day and my husband and I can relax in front of the tv and chill. Commuting is NOT leisure time, it's part of the work day. Responding to this nonsense article by a man who is clearly out of touch with the real world - that's leisure time too :)

    Posted by Working Mama February 22, 10 09:03 PM
  1. Who the hell cares what we call it? What actually hangs in the balance here?

    Posted by geocool February 23, 10 11:07 AM
  1. Leisure is defined as: a period of time spent free from the demands of work or duty. By that definition, the researcher is wrong. Shopping for groceries is a duty. Commuting is a duty. Laundry is a duty. As for me, if I'm not relaxing and enjoying myself, it's not leisure time. Leisure implies recreation, not doing dishes.

    Posted by Noah February 23, 10 12:31 PM
  1. Wow. That guy has got to be crazy. As a parent of three, even when I start cleaning the house shortly after I put the kids down to sleep is not leisure time. The author has absolutely not credibility in my book (simply because he is not a parent). In fairness, I will say that going to the gym is leisure time - I guess so is feeding my face, right!

    Posted by cman February 23, 10 01:55 PM
  1. Hmmmm.....so the time I spend shoveling out from a blizzard = leisure time.
    The sad thing is, this John Robinson fraud probably got paid big bucks to come up with this drivel.
    Good work if you can get it.

    Posted by Beetle February 23, 10 02:23 PM
  1. After reading this article, I have to say - I'm really ticked off at this idiot and anyone who says my time not making money is just leisure time. I have a daughter who was born with a two tumors. One tumor was on her lung and one on her liver. The first year of her life we spent the equivalent of 3 - 4 months in the hospital and doctor visits. Now, three years later, my son was born with kidney failure. Again we spent 3 - 4 months of time waiting and visiting doctors in hospitals. Between the two we spend at least 8-16 hours a month visiting children's hospital. Not including the hour and half commute to and from the hospital. We donít want anyone to feel bad for us because we are actually fortunate to have two beautiful children, but donít tell me that this is fun. That this isnít work or that we should feel fortunate for having all this free time. We don't enjoy spending our day offs and vacation time dealing with these issues. We would much rather spend our time going out to dinner or going to the movies. If I saw this guy in person, Iím angry enough right now that I would punch him in the nose.

    Posted by Joe February 23, 10 02:57 PM
  1. So, let me see if I understand this.

    If I pay someone to take care of my child, what she does is work. If I do it, its leisure time?

    Though I do think going to the gym is leisure time. Just feels like work.

    Posted by ash February 23, 10 03:29 PM
  1. To the many bashers of John Robinson - your comments show pretty clearly that you have not even read the Washington Post article this blog post comments on, let alone studying the time-use research in any detail.

    Do make an effort to understand the man's point of view before declaring it "drivel", "nonsense", or worth a punch in the nose. Otherwise, instead of showing him wrong you are only exposing your limitations.

    Posted by HBX February 23, 10 03:52 PM
  1. hey HBX- guess we dont have enough of this 'leisure time' to make the effort to understand his point or read the Post.

    Posted by mommabear February 23, 10 05:12 PM
  1. What job demands you be on call 24/7 without any scheduled time off?
    When you are a parent you never have any time to call your own. You must always be "at the ready". You can never say, "I'm going to spend the next 3 hours doing what I want to do". You must be Infinitely available. I wonder how long this fellow would last as a real parent. Walk a mile in my shoes, as they say.

    Karen Wepsic
    Mother of a 40 year-old
    Been there, done that.

    Posted by Karen Wepsic February 23, 10 06:44 PM
  1. Even when I'm spending time with my 4 year old playing with her, it doesn't mean it's Leisure for me. I play Candyland, draw, play pretend and all that other stuff, but I have to remove my 'adult' self from the scenario. Whatever thoughts and needs I have at that time are put aside for her benefit. This in itself is very taxing. When we are doing things as a family, such as hiking, I consider that leisure. When we were young, meals got cooked, clothes got laundered (even dried in the dryer Mark D), letters written, conversations with friends over coffee and the phone were done. This is what they were doing when we were out, making our own playdates, coming home when the streetlights came on, doing our own homework and riding to our games on our bicycles. Most mom's probably couldn't shuffle kids all around cause most families I knew only had 1 car. Also 1 tv - whiched we all watched together. This guy may be 74, but there are still many men out there who are still asking their wives "What did you DO all day?"

    Posted by OldMama February 23, 10 07:02 PM
  1. By definition, "leisure" is the freedom to choose a pastime or enjoyable activity. If you are not FREE TO CHOOSE an activity (e.g. waiting for a doctor, picking up the kids, making dinner, cleaning up after someone) you are not spending time in your leisure.

    The free time between these tasks can be quite enjoyable with anyone you love, either the children, the spouse or the family pet. Sometimes it is the non-leisure activity that puts us in the position to enjoy each other.

    Posted by Michael from Lexington, MA February 23, 10 11:07 PM
  1. I call it "recovery time"...

    Posted by ME February 24, 10 08:26 AM
  1. I am a nurse and a mom of three. I actually look forward going to my job (an RN in a very busy ICU) as a break from my hard work at home!!! Taking care of three young kids is not leisure....it is physically and mentally demanding. I completely agree with post #20 Karen above. At least at work I can go to lunch and the bathroom without being interrupted!

    Posted by Mom of 3 February 24, 10 11:00 AM
  1. I'm a widower with 3 kids. I didn't choose the widower part. I squeeze in 7 hours sleep. I started reading this yesterday morning. I suppose the half hour I go online before I start waking up the kids for school is leisure time. Otherwise I agree with the nurse above: my professional work is less stressful than any time the kids aren't in school. Even if I'm not doing something productive, if I'm on call, and it's rare I can go 15 minutes without hearing "Dad!", that's not leisure time.
    I'm paid by the hour, so it's hard to justify taking a mental health day, or even a mental health hour. Taking the bus to work means an hour of "me time": I can't do much more than meditate, but at least there's nothing else I could be doing while the bus is stuck in traffic -- but that's still an hour's less pay coming in to the family. I'm lucky I'm a contractor -- if I were a salaried employee, I doubt my employer would tolerate these hours. When I've been unemployed I spend the school day recovering from getting them to school (harder, and often unsuccessful, when they know I'll be home), looking for work, and doing housework. My wife was somewhat an invalid before her death, but I had moral support, and companionship, and someone who would be the primary on-call for some hours, though she was needy herself. I figure after the youngest is away at college, in 8 years or so, I can have my nervous breakdown and finish mourning my wife.

    Posted by Fishwood February 25, 10 07:06 AM
  1. Ahh, leisure. I remember leisure.

    Posted by Stefan @ www.dadtoday.com February 25, 10 11:55 PM
  1. When you lose yourself in an interest you love, you find yourself. When you are so wrapped up in doing something purely for the deep enjoyment that it gives you, the inner you come alive. This sort of experience can of course happen at work but you do that for the money. Leisure is an experience of the mind, the good feeling you get when you are doing something you freely choose to do for the love of it and for no other reason than the joy it gives you. It has nothing to do with time, because while you are enjoying a true leisure interest, time seems to stand still and your stresses temporarily (at least) disappear.
    It can happen at any time of the week and includes 'switch off' interests at the height of a busy stressful day.

    Posted by Peter Nicholls, Australia's People Gardener March 1, 10 02:17 AM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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