When I was a child (decades ago) we were taught in school that the United States was created to be the “land of opportunity.” A place where you could live free from persecution for being different or believing in a different God, and achieve your dreams of building a business which would provide you flexibility and financial security. People worked hard but also enjoyed a nationwide observance of Sundays off, a week at Christmas, and summer vacations where we drove cross-country and played together as a family.
Things sped up, and now we are a Country obsessed with being operational 24/7, sleep/rest be damned. With society on the whole working longer hours, having too many obligations and distractions, and entire generations of families that live for their measly 1-2 weeks of paid vacation, it’s no wonder high blood pressure and depression are on the rise with both adults and children.
In case you didn’t know, the US is the “only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday” according to USA Today. “By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation. Austria, which guarantees workers the most time off, has a legal minimum of 22 paid vacation days and 13 paid holidays each year. The average private sector U.S. worker receives 16 paid vacation days and holidays. One in four Americans does not have a single paid day off.”
Don’t even get me started on how many children are not afforded enough play time compared to the “olden days” – with school times starting earlier and running longer, homework averaging two hours a night for most middle-school kids, and four hours for high school, and then there’s an average of four to ten hours a week spent on team sports involvement or music/dance study – it’s no wonder kids have little time to actually stand outside and simply play.
All of this is tragic to me. But clearly my weekly blog and virtual soapbox is not going to change this. But what change I can encourage is that of personal time management to allow play time to be a part of your, and your kids’, weekly schedule.
One of the fundamental aspects of my business Dane Life Fitness is to help my clients carve out time where they can be artistically creative (using the right sides of their brains) or regularly play with their children (or adult friends), whether it be a card game or biking together, etc. Just some time spent on a weekly basis where they can let go of all the mental issues that stress us out (and the physical results therefrom). This play time is essential to a healthy internal and external life, as well as providing huge benefits to the core function of a family.
So whether or not you have paid vacation time, I challenge you to pick up an artistic hobby, a group sport or activity, or at least plan (and achieve) a weekly trip to the park to play catch or frisbee with your kids or adult friends. I also suggest you find a way to take at least one week a year to do something that is not just visiting relatives in another state (unless you find that relaxing). You need to get away and decompress. Your kids need do that too!
So enough staring at a computer screen – GO PLAY!