Writing Prompts: Number One Priority

What’s your #1 priority tomorrow?

Well, tomorrow just so happens to be that most sacred of occasions: a day off work! My primary priority will be therefore be to unwind and relax. Whether or not that happens entirely in the manner I want, won’t be certain until tomorrow.

Days off are quite important to me. I work full-time, doing some long hours, and various circumstances have seen me do more hours than usual of late. I thoroughly expect to be working beyond my official retirement age (barring some dramatic changes in fortune), so with that in mind, a day off really needs to be a day off, as opposing to a day that is spent running around being busy. I do appreciate that there are sometimes things that need doing, places to go, people to see etc, but I cannot abide by any set of circumstances where my free time becomes entirely at the mercy of someone else.

Does that sound selfish? Maybe it is a little selfish, but then again, I work hard. I am the primary breadwinner in my household, by some margin. It’s not like I don’t do running around on my days off either (I will often collect my daughter from school, and sometimes also take her to school on my days off). Yet I often end up feeling guilty about wanting to stop and pause, and do what I want to do on a day off.

To be clear, this is not because my wife pressures me into being busy or into running around. I think this feeling is a symptom of, ironically enough, traditional cultural ideals around specific gender roles. Women are often expected to be caregivers and homemakers. Men are expected to work. The idea of taking some ‘me’ time runs contrary to these traditional roles, whereupon everyone is expected to be doing something productive, all the time. Society likes to squeeze every last bit of productivity from a person, and if you dare take a day for yourself, you are considered lazy.

There is a tendency to volunteer a man’s free time. ‘Geoff is off work tomorrow, so he can absolutely come round and paint your fence’. Did anyone ask Geoff? ‘Thomas finishes work at 5, so he can be round your place by 6, and get to work fixing your electrics’. Is that alright with Tom? Has anyone checked?

I am quite fortunate that this does not often happen to me, but whenever it happens, to anyone (because women can be subjected to this assumption too), is it too much trouble to ask if it’s ok, before volunteering someone else, on their valuable spare time, to do something? Time is arguably the most precious commodity we have. There’s no getting it back.

My intentions for my day off? To play some games. Perhaps read a book. To do as little as possible, because I have earned that right.

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