To be honest, I am not one of those people who finds self-care greedy. I have long thought that part of being a kind person is being kind to yourself. In a healthy relationship, boundaries define what is my responsibility and what is yours. I learned long ago that it is no one’s responsibility to advocate for me but my own. When I need some free time, I clearly request it.
The greatest benefit I had from reading The Fringe Hours was clarifying how I should be spending the unattended time.
Before when I was feeling tapped out, touched out, utterly drained and in need of a quiet space, I had no problem asking for it. Then, when I retreated to a quiet alone space for the designated amount of time, I had no idea what to do with myself. It almost felt like a punishment. Solitary confinement for the mom with no hobbies or interests.
Free Time Without A Plan
I used this high-value time for low-yield tasks:
- writing a meal plan,
- researching shoes,
- checking Facebook, or
- scrolling through Pinterest for 45 minutes,
- and having only a single recipe for paleo breakfast bars to show for it.
Making A Plan For Free Time
After reading The Fringe Hours, I now anticipate my little pockets of free time, and strategically use them for maximum growth. There is no excuse for being surprised by free time. It may not crop up neatly on schedule, but it will come. That is a certainty, which should be planned for. To maximize my free time, I have a prioritized list of short-term actions which actually align with my long-term goals. That’s not to say I don’t browse aimlessly anymore, but first I consult my list:
- Is there anything weighing on my mind to take to God?
- Is there anything I want to praise Him for?
- Have I done something physical today?
- Do I feel like reading and taking notes on whatever my current work is?
- Any other on-going creative project?
Applying myself to a progressive running program strengthens my body. Reading books (instead of piddling away time reading Facebook statuses) challenges my mind. Regularly immersing myself in prayer and Scripture transforms my soul.
Now I have a firm plan, set down in writing even, for how to strategically make use of high-value alone time. Since my alone time has started yielding real results, I feel accomplished. I can look back on the day and see the fruits of my labours. An empty surface is a magnet for clutter. Every crisply-made bed is unmade each night. Little tummies are constantly in need of filling. But personal growth is forever.
Like this post? You might enjoy my review of the book The Fringe Hours. How do you make the most of your free time? Let me know below!