“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series
Married women, and particularly married moms, seem to be exceedingly busy these days. Ask any of them how they are, they will likely say “busy.” Life doesn’t seem to slow down. Sometimes it seems women are even competitively busy – always thinking they have sooo much more going on than the average family, but not wanting to really change that.
In my last post, I shared that Time Magazine’s August issue concluded the work load between husbands and wives, if we factor in paid work and work in the home, are roughly equal. There was an important difference, however.
Women feel more rushed, they have less free time, and the quality of their free time has worsened. Stressed wives don’t make for the happiest of wives.
First, women often have a complicated agenda in their heads of all the appointments and activities of the family. They have a carefully orchestrated plan for accomplishing work and/or family tasks. They are involved in more “labor-intensive” parenting than ever before. (Experts call it the “concerted cultivation of children” that attempts to draw out their talents.) Our grandparents would have a field day. Basically, we’re increasing out time commitments and ensuring that we have things going on in our heads even when we’re still.
Researchers say that women today report less free time than in the past and also don’t feel a sense of rejuvenation after our free time. This is probably due to multitasking during this “free time”, for example reading a book while watching the kids, or cooking dinner while talking to a friend on the phone. When women don’t have free time, or don’t have quality time, we don’t seem to be able to truly relax.
Men seem to be able to claim their free time and have access to high-quality leisure time. Experts say they are better at protecting that free time, which allows them to recharge more effectively.
Men and women shouldn’t feel guilty about communicating their need for quality time to enjoy life and relax. In fact, scheduling that as a priority for each partner can be a great relationship booster. Don’t wait until every chore is done. Instead, we need to prioritize this time and learn how to relax and be “unbusy” if even for a bit.
Some ideas for women: Send the family out so you can have a nap or bubble bath in peace, go for a walk or have lunch with a friend, write in a journal or read a good book, get involved in a sport or fitness activity, use prayer or meditation to calm the mind. Shopping and eating are not effective a stress relievers, at least in the long-term.
Even though men are generally better at finding and using free time, they should make an effort to cultivate more friendships with other like-minded men or get involved in the community. These relationships can help keep them healthier as they get older.
What is your favorite way to spend your free time? How often do you get to do this?
Photo courtesy of Stockvault.net by Barry Haynes