The luxury of ‘spare time’ has always been encouraged to manifest happiness and enjoyment and has, is, and forever will be treated like gold dust. If you haven’t, don’t and won’t ever treat it that way then you are a fool.
We grow up with the understanding that ‘spare time’ is limited and therefore should be used wisely.
Who doesn’t have childhood memories of spending your ‘spare time’ with the proverbial Toms, Dicks and Harrys (innocently, of course) before your Mum would come and be the ultimate kill-joy with those dreaded words: ‘it’s time to go home now’…
We all have those memories and we all remember how much we valued our ‘spare time’ as kids, and growing up, to be able to use it to enjoy the things we really wanted to do.
Humour me a little further and agree that ‘spare time’ then became something of a fairy tale as the years went by, attainable only to those with long golden locks or a magic bean. ‘Spare time’ was downtrodden by things like school, extra-curricular activities, boring-but-important exam revision, uni, jobs and LIFE.
Echoes of ‘Where did our ‘spare time’ go?’ haunt adults like a Chinese whisper… It’s akin to a Pokemon Go – if you see it, chase after it and don’t stop until you have it. And then, bloody hell, use it wisely.
Cue also the onset of pressure, anxiety and guilt of how to use it when you have it; pre, during and post.
Now, as I am officially unemployed, or as I like to tell myself, self-promoted to a Lady of Leisure, I have a lot of this ‘spare time’. And I’m not going to lie, it’s both disconcerting and liberating. While I delight in not feeling any post-weekend pre-Monday fear, my Sunday fear equivalent is also ‘what the hell will I have to show for my Monday if I get out of bed 14 hours later’?
‘Spare time’ can seem daunting. I’m not a glutton for rigorous routine but I am accustomed to a schedule and that’s what I think will be the biggest thing to get my head around; that I’ve given up a predictable, organised life for an abundance of spontaneous ‘spare time’.
Even as I type it out and read it in black and white I’m like ‘say whaaaaaat?!’
Most recently I’ve been trying out my new ‘spare time’, like a new pair of shoes, wearing it in loyally and checking for uncomfortable bits, on a tiny island on the West Coast of Scotland. It was very quiet and the polar opposite of London and how I spent my ‘spare time’ was very different to how it would have been spent in London.
My ‘spare time’ was spent on dog walks, a lot of lying on the sofa reading and doing yoga with my Mum. Of course the odd glass of wine was a great ‘spare time’ spender, too.
While I did have to set my alarm on the odd occasion during the week, the slow paced Scottish life was a gentle transition into ‘I have nothing to do, but I can do anything I want’.
‘Spare time’ is no longer a luxury now, it’s my life. I have no work commitments, no fixed schedule, no plans other than waking up and deciding what to do… And more importantly to channel my inner joy-killed child (that’s not entirely, true) and to do what makes me happy!
It sounds pretty dreamy, right? Why can’t we all do it?
These next few weeks before I set off to go travelling, where filling my ‘spare time’ really will be the norm, I will consciously learn to toe the line of using my ‘spare time’ wisely while also not feeling any guilt for any misspent moments.
Right now, as a Lady of Leisure, it’s a Monday morning; I would usually be at work. I am not. I have a whole stretch of day ahead of me with no plans, just ‘spare time’. Same goes for the week. Zero, nada, niente.
And that gives me great happiness and enjoyment. I think I could get used to this ‘spare time’ malark.