Sharing of Recreation:
Benefits and Challenges
How many parents complain that they can’t find time for
themselves? We suspect the answer is ‘almost all.’ In their
recreation domain, many American parents are out-of-balance to the
negative. Even if they are able to squeeze in enough fun time
with their kids, they usually aren’t getting enough time for fun on
their own or with other adults.
We have struggled to carve out recreation time like everyone else, but
are helped tremendously by our philosophy of equal sharing. When
our daughter was born, we made a commitment to create time for each of
us to pursue at least one hobby in a meaningful way at all times.
While this goal hasn’t worked perfectly, we’ve been happily surprised
by how easy it is to achieve most of the time. We actually do
have enough time for ourselves overall.
Only a superhuman can
sustain a life of giving without receiving. The fact
that equally shared parenting can facilitate balance between the two
means that it makes life more enjoyable.
The beauty of getting time for yourself in an equally shared parenting
model is that you are not doing so at the expense of your
children. This is because you are almost always leaving them in
the capable hands of your spouse while you are out doing your
thing. And we believe that parents making time for fun away from
their children is actually the
best thing for the kids. We want to teach them that being
an adult and a parent is a good thing, even with its tremendous
It benefits everyone if both
leading happy and fulfilled lives. A wife who is free to manage
her own fun, and then does so, is a lot more enjoyable to be around
than one who
feels trapped as a servant to everyone else’s needs. The same
goes for men, of course.
Guilt has a way of messing
up the whole point of recreation. Even
if your partner shows no signs of trying to make you feel guilty, you
can often do this job all by yourself. You start to second-guess
the importance of your time alone, or you figure it is just easier to
stay at home. Sometimes, we just
have to force ourselves out of the house when it is our turn to
go. Maybe the best gift we can
give to our families in return for our recreation time is to actually
enjoy it and come home renewed.
Another challenge is knowing that whenever parents equally share and
partake of recreation time, they
also get more single-parent duty to cover for each other.
parenting gives parents a way out of the common complaint about not
having time for themselves. Although it isn’t always easy to
create the right balance in your recreation domain, equally shared
parenting makes it possible more often than not.
Recreation, as we discuss it here, should be broadly defined.
What renews each person is highly individual. For some, washing
the car is a chore. For others, it is a meditative and peaceful
activity. Recreation doesn’t have to cost a lot. In fact,
it can be completely free. Exercise is a great use of recreation
time, for example, and can take the form of a run along the river, a
hike on a beautiful day, or a yoga session in your living room.
One key facet of equally shared parenting is that both parents are
competent to handle activities in all four domains. This makes
life more fun because it lifts the burden of responsibility for any one
domain from an individual parent. Not only are you able to get
enough time to yourself, but you are sharing the housework,
breadwinning and childraising. So, in essence, you have all the
fun and half the work. Life in balance is a good thing.
©Copyright 2008 Marc and Amy Vachon