Making Time for Free Time

Making Time for Free TimeI recently had the privilege of spending a weekend with a bright eight-year-old boy. While I thought it was up to me to show him and his parents around our home town, I think the visit was more about him teaching me about personal time.

As is standard operating procedure when friends or families visit, we often pack the sparse days full of shopping, sight seeing, outdoor adventuring and restaurant dining. Its our attempt to show them the best our town has to offer while spending time with those closest to us.

For even the most social creatures, a full day of activities can be draining. You are trying to maximize the time, but expelling more energy than your usual by being social or physical endurance . By the end, you feel like you are dragging and just need to curl up in a ball at the abolutle earliest convenience — only to start again the following morning.

Such was the case with my visiting friends. After a morning of kayaking, lunch at a local bistro and a visit to the neighboring town’s beach, I think all of us were barely holding on.  It was at this moment that my friend’s son asked, “When can I have free time?” Needing more information, I asked what is defined as free time. His parents explained that he enjoyed his down time where he can read or build rock castles by himself. In short, he needed to spend some time by himself to recharge.

I was both jealous and in awe. At eight, the boy had a firmer grasp on personal emotional IQ than I do at 36. He knew when his internal battery was running low and that he needed a bit of regroup time to recharge for the next adventure. But he upped the ante and took it one step further. Not only did he recognize he was running a bit low in the energy department, he requested time for himself. He made free time a priority on his agenda.

While we used his request as a way for all of us to go our separate ways for a few hours, I think all of the adults were secretly pleased to have some regroup time of their own.  At what point do we sacrifice our own energy levels for the group? Won’t a bit of down time further the enjoyment when we are all operating at maximum charge?

After the weekend, I have started to consider my energy levels a bit more closely. I like to think of it as the battery icon on my tablet or laptop. When it gets down to 20%, I know I need to use it more sparingly and start looking for a chance to pull away, plug in my charger and regroup.  Instead of waiting for the time, I need to make sure I make it a priority.

Like I have said before, sometimes the greatest learning lessons come from the unexpected.

Thank you, Ryan.

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