Do you find yourself working long hours at your job, shuttling your kids here, there and everywhere — only to find more work waiting for you when you get home? Do you and your family constantly feel rushed and overscheduled? If so, you’re suffering a time famine and it’s time to take back your time.
Fighting time famine
October 24 marks the seventh annual Take Back Your Time Day. “Take Back Your Time is a major US/Canadian initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, overscheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and environment,” according to the movement’s official website, www.TimeDay.org.
Family and health: the casualties of too much work
According to TimeDay.org, we work more hours than any other industrialized country — more even than medieval peasants did! Family time, exercise, volunteering and the time to pursue spiritual matters are often casualties of our work schedules and of our children’s extracurricular activities. Time famine stresses our health, the health of our families, leaves our pets neglected and damages the environment, as we use more convenience items. We simply don’t have time to care for ourselves and each other.
Seek a SIMPLER life
Take Back Your Time grew out of the voluntary simplicity movement — it’s an initiative of The Simplicity Forum (a leadership alliance for the Simplicity Movement) and a project of the nonprofit Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy (CRESP) at Cornell University. It’s strictly nonpartisan and crosses ideological lines, writes executive director John de Graaf in the national movement’s handbook, also titled Take Back Your Time. “Nobody has any time out there!” he declares.
An American right: More free time?
The movement seeks a “more balanced American life” by encouraging all types of programs to win back time, whether on a personal level or by enacting legislation locally and nationally. Among other things, Take Back Your Time ultimately hopes to see:
- Guaranteed paid leave for all parents for the birth or adoption of a child (many families can’t afford to take advantage of the unpaid leave provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993).
- One week per year of guaranteed sick leave for all workers; guaranteed vacation of at least three weeks per year for all workers.
- A limit on the amount of compulsory overtime an employer can require.
Take Back Your Time encourages lawmakers to use these ideas to tailor legislation that will help win back more free time for Americans.
Celebrate Take Back your Time Day
Why October 24? The choice is significant. October 24 was originally chosen because it falls nine weeks before the end of the year, symbolizing the fact that Americans now work an average of nine full weeks more each year than Western Europeans.
Time Day events and activities take place all over the US. Local organizers put together panel discussions, lectures, even potlucks, where people gather to discuss how we’ve become so time-poor and what we can do about it. You can also observe Time Day on your own by doing something as simple as sleeping late, visiting relatives or scheduling family meals. What matters is that you take back some time for yourself and your loved ones.
Visit TimeDay.org for more information or pick up Take Back Your Time: The Official Handbook of the National Movement, a collection of essays by more than 30 religious and labor leaders, doctors, journalists, academics, work/life and family counselors, activists and personal coaches.
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