Hobbies, activities we enjoy and can get absorbed in for hours at a time, can really help us to be more interesting and pleasant people. They can be something as neat and confined as doing crossword puzzles or as messy and far flung as playing paintball. Their common thread is that they relax us and take our minds off our cares and responsibilities.

Whatever your family members' hobbies may be, there have surely been volumes written about them. Our purpose here is not to tell you what you need to do or how to do it, but to make sure that you organize your family's schedule so you set aside time for all family members to enjoy their hobbies. As your family goes about creating and maintaining its schedule, everyone must be aware of everyone else's hobbies so that time can be allocated to their pursuit, instead of taking up each individual's apparent free time with chores such as carpooling.

Each person must also make good use of his own time so that he's prepared to engage in his hobby by having the proper equipment and supplies ready. Part of that effort involves taking care of the equipment, cleaning up, and putting it away after each hobby session.


Some social activities are planned. How much social interaction each person in your family wants to schedule separate and apart from everything else will be determined, at least to some extent, by the person's other activities. If a person's work, enrichment activities, and hobbies all involve doing things with other people, then it's possible that the person's interest in spending even more time with other people may be small. On the other hand, if the rest of a person's life doesn't afford much human contact, then some planned social activities would be a good use of that person's leisure time. The important point here is that your family members should make conscious decisions about how much social activity they need and want to work into their schedules, and their leisure time should be allocated accordingly.

At other times, socializing can be purely spontaneous. And, while the fact it's spontaneous means that, by definition, it's unplanned, that doesn't mean you can't plan your schedule to afford you more opportunities for spontaneous social encounters. For example, if you stop to get a cup of coffee at the beginning of a long day of errands and run into a friend at the coffee shop, you'll be more likely to just say hello and get on with your chores. If, on the other hand, you leave the coffee for the end of the day, you might find that your errands didn't take as long as you had planned; therefore, when you run into a friend, you know that you have time to sit down and catch up on his news. The flexibility to be spontaneous is one of the great hidden benefits of an organized agenda!

Free Time

As difficult as it may be to believe, if you've chosen wisely, scheduled properly, and acted efficiently, then you'll have some totally free time left over. And, because energy and creativity are often the result of a few moments of peace, free time can be an important part of your family's schedule (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. To ensure that you can enjoy your hobbies, social activities, and free time, schedule them into your family's planner.

No adult ever likes to hear a child say “I'm bored,” nor does he like to say to himself “I don't know why I never have time to do the things I'd like to do.” So, just as you need to plan ahead for the opportunity to socialize spontaneously, so, too, you must plan ahead for using free time to improve the quality of your family's life. It's no good if you or your children find you have the time to read, watch a movie, play a game, or surf the Internet if you don't have reading materials, movies, games, or a list of websites you want to visit. So, be aware of how you might like to spend your free time and keep what you'll need at hand.

Of course, the fundamental idea behind free time is that you get to use it however you want, but here are some ideas to get you thinking about it:

  •  Do something that makes you laugh. Laughter puts you in a happy mood, and it also boosts your immune system.

  • Get some fresh air. Getting outside is good for both your mind and body, and just 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine a day allows your body to produce all of the Vitamin D it needs.

  • Pamper yourself. Whether you choose something as simple as a bubble bath or as elaborate as a day at a spa, your attitude is sure to be lifted.

  • Take a nap. Extra rest is always a good idea, especially if you're sleep-deprived (although we hope you've eliminated that situation by now). Enough sleep can boost both your immunity so you'll be healthier and your metabolism so you'll burn more calories.

  • Daydream. Letting your mind wander can produce some amazingly creative ideas.

  • Do something totally spontaneous. It can be something small like catching fireflies or something more involved like going to a movie. Then take the time to appreciate how uplifting it is that your life affords you this freedom!

Because free time provides so many benefits, each family member, as well as the master schedule-keeper, must be careful to protect each person's hard-won free time. Be careful that you don't see other people's open time as an opportunity for you to have them do something you want them to do. And, on the other hand, hold your own free time in the highest regard; you'll do your own work and chores more efficiently if you stop thinking of your leisure time as bonus time for you to do your work. If you see anyone's free time getting eroded this way, write it into your family's planner and make it an item of the highest priority.

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