Another Monday – not most people’s favourite day… so social media is full of motivational posts, telling you that you’re strong, you can do it – do you sometimes see those and feel like screaming? Or is it just me… … Continue reading
Nobody understands me – not completely. There are things about me that people just don’t get. Even with close friends there is stuff… even those who know me well have those moments… it’s painful sometimes, when I share something of … Continue reading
It’s December, and many parents will be telling their children the usual fibs about a guy with a beard coming down the chimney – but I once told a little girl a much bigger lie, and it’s a lie that … Continue reading
“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” How can I make a joyful noise when… But even when there’s pain and sadness, even when my whole very … Continue reading
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36) It feels very uncomfortable, sharing this verse. It would be so much … Continue reading
Do you have those days? When you feel tired, exhausted, worn out? I’m sitting on the sofa with my smartphone. Just played Fishdom for a bit – then I ran out of lives, and got a message about buying some … Continue reading
So with all the stuff I’ve been hearing about Melania Trump’s speech, with all the accusations of plagiarism, I have yet to hear anyone address the lie: the lie repeated by her and by Michelle Obama, and, by the sound … Continue reading
I’ve always been the sort of person who prefers the easy way of doing things. When I was living and working in London, with access to Oxford Street and all its shops every lunchtime, that meant buying things: ready-made meals for one, ready-made desserts in individual portions, even bags of prepared vegetables, peeled and sliced carrot batons, broccoli florets, shelled peas, mixtures of veg that were ready to just go in the microwave and accompany the ready-made individual-sized pie which I’d stick in the oven when I got home from work – ok, partly this was because I actually didn’t know how to cook… but partly this was the lifestyle I was living: rushing to work every day, always feeling short of time, and being surrounded by shops selling any kind of luxury, so basically I bought time, I paid money so that someone else would save me having to spend time on peeling carrots.
Not being in that category myself, I can’t say much more than that about the lives of working mothers, but what grabbed my attention was the method used to reach this conclusion.
First, here’s the part that I think makes sense:
Rather than ask people to estimate how much time they spend on certain activities per day or per week, those taking part in this research were asked to keep time diaries, logging in detail all the stuff they were doing during a 24-hour period, so that later the researchers could allocate the activities to the appropriate categories and arrive at a real total of how many minutes the person actually devoted to e.g. housework, childcare, work at whatever their job is, shopping, cooking, watching TV, commuting, etc. I think this makes much more sense than asking people for an estimate, because it’s unlikely that a person will have a good objective idea of how much time they spend on each of these things.
But where I think their method is lacking is in the either/or attitude to the use of time. The article gave a list of activities that this sociologist files under “leisure activities” and others that are filed under “non-leisure activities”, and these lists include stuff like:
Shopping – under non-leisure, no matter what kind of shopping you’re doing. which is ridiculous considering that so many women do regard shopping as a fun and enjoyable pastime, something they do just to cheer themselves up a bit. (No, I’m not talking about wheeling your trolley round a supermarket, I’m talking about treating yourself to new clothes or makeup or a handbag or whatever – or, if you are me, letting yourself loose in a stationery shop…)
Personal grooming – again, they place it in the non-leisure category. Can you honestly tell me that for the average busy working mother, having a manicure or a facial is not a wonderful bit of me-time snatched in between her errands?
On the other hand, volunteering is placed in the leisure section. Huh?
And keeping fit is in the leisure section, even if you hate exercise.
At least with reading they show a bit more discernment, and say reading is under “leisure” but not if you’re reading work stuff.
But with childcare, they lump everything you do with your kids under “non-leisure”, even if you’re having loads of fun, even if you’re just taking them along to something you enjoy doing, or using them as an excuse to play…
And commuting is placed clearly under non-leisure, but from what I remember from my commuting days, it was a mixed bag – though some of it was certainly stressful (London Underground in the morning rush hour), some of it was a great chance to unwind on your way home after a day’s work, reading the newspaper or a book and basically not having to do anything from the moment you got on the train and sat down to the moment you got up at the end of the journey.
I think if you want a real picture of how people use their time, you need to allow for certain time slots to go under more than one category. The trouble is, of course, you’d end up with a total of more than 24 hours per day… But seriously, I’ve always had a problem with these sorts of approaches to recording use of time – they’re fine when you’re doing a clear-cut job, when you’re focused on a specific task at each given moment, but trying to apply that to women at home… sorry, how do you record those minutes when you’re talking to a friend on the cordless phone whilst cooking a meal?
not to mention that some activities are restful/relaxing/recharging for one person, and a chore for another. if your husband loves tennis and insists you go play every weekend, does this count as leisure time for you? if you have an annoying neighbour who keeps popping round for a cup of tea and a chat, do you have to file that under “leisure” because you are sitting down and having a cuppa and socialising? and then, on the other hand, say you actually have a job that involves doing the stuff you love doing – is that strictly work time?
I don’t find life is quite so black and white.
And if you wrap them up in cotton wool, you’re taking different risks – you’re risking your kids growing up without having a clue how to make decisions for themselves, how to make good judgements about risk-taking. You’re risking your kids growing up to be over-anxious adults.
And yes, I know, it’s easy for me to say – I haven’t got kids to worry about. But I’m pretty sure that if I did, I wouldn’t want to raise them on the fear & anxiety diet that my own mum brought me up on.
For more about this stuff go to Free-Range Kids – How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children