My favourite part of the day is the two or three hours every evening between the time my kids’ heads hit the pillow and when mine does.
There’s no one tugging on my sleeve, hanging off my leg, asking for help with their homework, insisting “I’m still hungry!”, whining “He looked at me!” or suggesting I come inspect their poo because it looks a little weird.
Most nights, there’s no book club meeting, no girls’ night out, no date night with Luc, no family get-together. Work was done hours ago and my BlackBerry is off. The phone isn’t ringing, the email is checked and my Facebook status is updated.
If I’m lucky, there’s no pile of laundry to be folded, the dishes are washed and the kids’ lunches for the next day are packed.
It’s my time. Downtime. And most nights, this is NOT what I’m doing during my downtime:
- I am not visiting 112 countries in four years (like Hillary Clinton).
- I am not writing a book on the history of hockey while simultaneously running the country (à la Stephen Harper).
- I am not supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family, encouraging national service, promoting the arts, and fostering healthy eating and healthy living for children and families, while standing by my man in the White House (go Michelle Obama!).
- I am not revolutionizing how we communicate through social media, becoming a billionaire by age 23 or being named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine (thanks for setting the bar, Zuckerberg).
Here is what I AM most likely doing during my downtime:
- Watching “House Hunters” marathons on HGTV.
- Obsessively checking how many visitors and views I’ve gotten on my blog.
Everyone needs downtime–time to relax, take a break, breathe. But I just can’t picture Angela Merkel flipping through People magazine, Mohamed Morsi browsing the web, or Pope Benedict XVI munching on buttered popcorn and channel surfing (although I suppose he’ll have more time for that now…)
I realize I’m not an ambitious person. My goals are modest (I’d love to renovate the kitchen). My aspirations are attainable (I’d like to pay off the mortgage and retire comfortably on my government pension). My hopes and dreams are realistic (a trip to Disney World sometime in the next year or two would be nice). I live in my happy little home with my happy little family in my happy little bubble.
I also realize we need people to lead revolutions, stabilize the global economy, defend the weak, invent, innovate, inspire, and keep this strange and complicated world of ours humming. People who use their downtime to further a cause, free the oppressed and forge ahead.
That’s just not me. And I openly admit that I wouldn’t trade anything for those two or three blessed hours of peace with my remote beside me, my laptop on my knees and a novel in my hands, my sweet babes safe and sound and asleep in their beds, and my soft pillow waiting for me upstairs.
Check out Luc’s thoughts on downtime.