What Free Time Can Buy

What Free Time Can Buy February 9, 2016

(Wikimedia Commons)

Simcha Fisher has a great reflection on why she stopped homeschooling, and what she gained and lost when she sent her kids to school.  This is the loss that most stood out to me:

We don’t get to choose how to spend our time. This is the one thing that makes me really miss home school. We don’t have much time or flexibility to do fun or important things together as a family, like go to museums or other cultural events, or celebrate religious feasts in a big way, or have long vacations, or have vacations when we need or want them. We haven’t even been to the library in a very long time (although they do use their school libraries, and the older kids walk to the public library every day to be picked up). Reading aloud has to happen in the evening, and we may or may not be in the mood. Religious education has to be crammed in here and there. And summer vacation is criminally short. We have to be really judicious about our free time, and there’s never enough of it.

I still miss this about college, both the liberty I had to do things during the day, and the big stretches of summer vacation.  Now that I’m a grown-up, I don’t have breaks built in and it limits what I can take on and do with others.  I have vacation days, but it’s hard not to feel nervous about spending them unwisely and leaving someone I love shortchanged.  Plus, the days I choose to take don’t sync up with my friends’ free time, so it’s hard to start a shared adventure.  There are official holidays, but they tend to be busy getting the business of Christmas or anything else accomplished, still not a time to just decide to read a whole play aloud or go visit a museum.

In California, I knew more people who lived on “maker schedule” with big blocks of time they could use as they saw fit, but, because there was a lot of variation in when people’s free blocks fell, so I would have trouble coordinating events.  Back in DC, I just use doodle polls to schedule big events (like a day-long watch through of The Hollow Crown) up to a month and a half ahead of time, so we can all find a free date.  That’s tolerable for a group of 15 adults with different kinds of work commitments, but I’d wish for more flexibility within a family, and school plus extracurriculars can make it hard to pull off.

The best thing really is to have the experience of a snow day more often — a day that’s unexpectedly returned to you, that you didn’t have the chance to schedule away.

Cat Hodge put her finger on why we need this time of our own in the middle of a longer post on art and friendship:

There must be amateur theater. There must be amateur most-things, or most people will never experience most-things.

I can’t expect that my friends or my family will luck into having a production of Anyone Can Whistle open near them.  If we want to appreciate it, we’ll have to read it aloud ourselves (supplemented with the cast album as needed — Sondheim is hard!).   But to make and enjoy larger scale amateur art, rockets, or anything else, we’ll have to find ways to claw back larger blocks of time.




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