Free time has many other names: spare time, down time, holiday, break, recess, freedom, intermission, lull, time out, breathing spell, respite, study hall, leisure time, rest, lull, time to kill, idle time, vacation, time on one’s own hands, pastimes, hobby time, etc. Whatever we call it, we can agree it is meant to be time to do what we please or enjoy. And we can agree, we want more of it. I know I have never heard anyone complain about having too much free time. Instead, I want more!
Sadly, free time is not appreciated or valued as highly as it should be because so many people don’t get very much of it. Other countries do a better job. Keynes predictions never came true (15-hour work week, everyone would have lots of free time, etc.). If you want some interesting reads on lack of free time try these: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/05/26/no-time (No Time, How did we get so busy) and http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/25/overwhelmed-work-love-play-no-one-time-review-brigid-schulte (Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play-When no one has the time).
I will say becoming a parent has changed or shifted my priorities to include the value of family, free time, and reducing stress. My own views of free time and what constitutes free time is constantly changing. I do think I had more free time prior to having kids but I also have to say what I did with my free time has drastically changed from college days to career days to parent days to now homeschooling parent days. I also think free time is going to be viewed and enjoyed differently by each person. I admit to being the person who doesn’t do well just sitting or doing nothing. I am not a big TV or movie watcher at all. So much of what I consider free time activities others wouldn’t. And, I know my son’s version of free time is very different than mine!
So what is free time to me? I consider it free time when my son is in a class or private lesson. That is my time to read or play one of my games (yes, I admit to enjoying games on the tablets). I consider it free time but also learning time when we take field trips to various museums, nature centers, garden centers, or zoos. Yes, it might require more time and effort to coordinate those field trips but they are totally worth it. My son and I are learning things, but it’s also fun. My most treasured free time is when we vacation to mountains or beaches. I love the outdoors. I view these trips as a way to reset my brain and body. I wish they could happen more often. Little weekend camping trips work, but they are not quite the same. Although it is a household chore, I do consider gardening and yard work as free time. Minus the heat in the middle of summer, I actually enjoy doing it. It’s my break from being mom and teacher. It’s my chance to be totally alone, not bothered by anyone or a phone. Sometimes Facebook is free time but sometimes it’s a time drain too. And, I will admit to playing Minecraft as free time but it’s also bonding time with my son as we play it very differently than when he does it with daddy. I will also admit to saying “mom is off duty” at the end of the day so I can get some down time too.
So what is free time to my son? He considers any break he has as free time. He even considers some of his homeschool activities as free time (especially science experiments) because he absolutely loves his math programs and loves science. Although he is definitely learning during his robotics, electronics, wiring, and Lego construction its free time and tinkering time to him. Even when taking classes in these areas, it’s free time to him. It is as if passion-driven learning isn’t viewed as work to him but as fun and worthwhile. Even what we consider as PE activities he views them as fun and free time, with the exception of the formal swim lessons and First Tee classes. And, of course, free time to him is playing games or watching videos on the tablets and taking apart any electronics. His free time has increased since homeschooling.
Free time is all in the perspective of the individual. Homeschooling has given us more free time or time to pursue our son’s passions. My level of free time may have decreased or changed into smaller chunks now that we are homeschooling, but the level of stress drastically decreased which is a bigger plus. However, more free time is still needed! And, what I consider free time will change again when our son is older as I am sure what he considers free time will change for him too. There are other great blogs on free time at Hoagies’!