Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What's "leisure time"? Does my commute count?

I read an article in the Washington Post recently, in which Brigid Schulte talks to experts and tries to figure out where her time goes, while I was at the office, waiting for a story to be submitted. According to sociologist John Robinson, that was leisure time, even though I was at my desk. "Women have time," he told Schulte. "Women have at least 30 hours of leisure every week. In fact, women have more leisure now than they did in the 1960s, even though more women are working outside the home."

I guess it all depends on how you define "leisure." Robinson says the time I spend alone in my car is leisure time. I say that focusing on the road and trying to beat the daycare clock is not leisurly at all. He'd classify the time I spent gathering background information for this and other articles as leisure; I call it "part of my job." Also: It's worth noting that, per Robinson's calculations, of the 28 hours of so-called leisure time he cobbled together from notes about Schulte's day-to-day juggle, 18 of them were spent with kids in tow (even the two hours she spent in her broken-down car with her daughter, waiting for a tow truck -- leisure). >

You know how we're always talking about how it's quality time, not quanity of time, that's important? It seems to me that Robinson is measuring exactly the opposite: Quanity, not quality.

"Clearly I love Caroline and Edward and Patrick more than I love salt but as much as I enjoy spending time with them I have to confess that I don't really see it as leisure," writes Julia at Here Be Hippogriffs. "Now that we are liberated from the notion that the only labor is paid labor how do you qualify free time?"

Meagan Francis at The Happiest Mom writes what most of us are thinking: "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."

Working moms, how do you define "leisure"? Is all free time leisure time in your book? And is all non-work time really "free" for you?


Anonymous said...

I KNEW you'd write about this article when I saw it on Shine. I'm pregnant with my first and honestly, I'm so overwhelmed now--before baby's even born--trying to get it all done that I've got no idea how I'll manage once the little one is here. I'm open to suggestion! I'm trying to work out a schedule for household stuff (we're remodelling), lawn care (I'm picky and we do it ourselves), work, church, volunteering and a social life. I laugh at 30 leisure hours. I'm lucky to get 30 minutes weekly to do what I choose to do without simultaneously doing laundry, dishes, and/or other drudgery.

Anonymous said...

Leisure means the time when a man has nothing to do. Leisure is necessary to lead a healthy and happy life. It enables us to recover our lost freshness and energy. It affords an opportunity to escape from the hard reality of life and enjoy this fine world.

fibrowitch said...

To me leisure time means a time when there are no deadlines, nothing to do but stare at the clouds and watch the waves come in. No stress, no problems.

Since last night my pipes froze, and one of the seals broke, I am currently waiting for a plumber to call me back. I'm not doing anything, but I don't consider this time to be leisure.