This past weekend, my husband went on a guys-only camping trip, leaving me to do whatever I pleased. A mini-staycation! I couldn't have asked for better. Because as much as I love my hubby, sometimes...well...he just gets in the way!
If he's reading this, he's probably frowning and worrying that he doesn't do enough around the house, or is hindering me in some way. Let me assure him and readers that this isn't the case at all. He does the majority of the cooking and grocery shopping, all the heavy lifting and half the laundry, on top of earning a living as a freelance writer. He is my other half, and I could never dismiss him.
That said, sometimes, you need a break from your soul mate. I'm talking about me time—the freedom to do as one pleases, to be spontaneous without consultation, to get things done on your own schedule without feeling like it has to be done now, now, now!
Parents know about this precious resource. That half hour while the kids are napping can be used for anything: using the toilet, showering, clearing away that sinkful of dishes, even—gasp!—reading a few pages of that book that's been on the bedside table for six months.
With the weekend wide-open and giving me that come-hither look, I was tempted to just blow it off and do whatever I wanted. But there was so much piling up on my to-do list, I was afraid I'd never get around to it.
Not just chores and personal grooming, but fun times, too.
When I realized I had to schedule fun, that it had become a part of my to-do list, I knew something was seriously wrong.
One of my favorite Beatles lyrics comes from “Girl”—“A man must break his back to earn his day of leisure/Will she still believe it when he's dead?” I couldn't not do all that stuff I needed to do. If I ignored it, I'd only feel worse later. But if I didn't want to spend my whole weekend being a martyr, either.
So I compromised. I cleaned and organized the house, took out the tools and did some repairs, gardened, cooked, and blogged. And in between, I indulged. Had lunch with a friend, went shopping, got my nails done, and played tourist in my own city. I filled every minute with things that I not only had to do, but things I wanted to do.
No consultation. No interruptions. All on my own terms.
The freedom to do as we please is something we take for granted. Women especially seem pressured to fill their time with productive tasks, which is perfectly fine and normal until their lives are nothing but to-do lists. Off time is something we all need, not only to stay healthy and sane, but as writers, to keep our creative energy flowing.
After a packed weekend that cleared my to-do list, I whipped through a big chunk of editing and even got to plotting ahead. After all that mental decluttering, I even allowed the plot bunnies to overtake my brain for a while.
The moral of the story: make your significant other go camping without you more often. Mine that precious me time resource. Take a day for yourself now and again to get things you want to do done.
Time is rarely free anymore, but it can be invested for better return.
What does your me time include? How do you get away from the daily grind? How can you get more me time in your life? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Her Son's Hero.
Draw takes place Friday, August 12, 2011, 9 p.m. EST