Wednesday, February 10, 2010

10 February 1956, “Our Use of Leisure Time: or How To Make A Life ”

I believe I presented this short educational film sometime last year on my blog, but I wanted to do so again.

With the turn of the last century, leisure time was only beginning to become an option for some working/middle class people. And by the time we reach mid century, the Baby Boomers were really the first group in that class system to have so much leisure time. Though I cannot be certain, it might have been the beginning of the teenager moan, “I’m bored and there’s nothing to do”.

This film is obviously very short and can be seen as silly, but it does make good points. We had really come a long way by the 1950’s in work hour standards and toil for the homemaker. Of course they don’t have the time to get into the varying aspects of class. For example, a middleclass homemaker in 1900 would have had a little more leisure time as she would most assuredly have had at least one servant. In fact, in that time period, you were almost socially required to have at least one servant to officially call yourself middle class. If you were on the lower rung of that social scale and could only afford one maid of all work, than you and your daughters were also a part of the daily housework, but it did alleviate it somewhat.

But, here in post war America, thousands of people who had been working class/farming families suddenly found themselves with the ability to own their own home and to have the convenience and time to throw parties, shop for niceties not just needed items and have leisure time. The middle class suddenly not only grew, but was really being redefined. The need of hired help had pretty much been lost after the First World War, when many women were given men’s roles and the growing production and less rigid roles for work for women, meant all but the demise of live in servants when a girl could make good money and not have to suffer the strict rules, uniforms and hours of a live in servant.

So, here we have the returning hero’s of the war and a new restructured middle class. And it is their children, the Baby Boomers, who were the first, in a long time, to have to question themselves with , “What should we do?”

It must have made some of these new parents angry when their ‘teenagers’ complained so. They were not far enough removed from their own childhoods ‘on the farm’ or ‘in the cities’ where they were always busy with work that needed to be done to keep their home and life going. Yet, they wanted a freer nicer time for their offspring. They wanted a new better America; it was, after all, what they had all fought for.

So, this concept of sitting around doing nothing or ‘waiting for supper’ as our main character in  this film finds himself at the beginning, is really the start of what we have now. Although, it is true in many cases that we have begun to go in reverse of work hours, that many work OVER 40 hours (especially when you consider both spouses working) there are still those teenagers at home. And  when we are not at work how do we use our leisure time?  I think none of us will be surprised to see that most of it is spent in front of the TV or the computer. Is that bad, not really, because as I have said before THINGS are not good or bad, but how we use them and our own responsibility to ourselves and others is where the ‘good and bad’ come in.

The upper class and upper middle class had always had leisure time. In fact, in countries outside of the America, an upper-class person could not be so if he had a job, unless he studied law or sat in parliament. Yet, these classes had had generations to determine and to set up the structure of what was to eat up their leisure time. And although we would like to believe the classes above us sat around eating bon bons all day, closer study would find that not true at all. Even an upper class society wife was busy everyday. She had a houseful of servants to manage and maintain, she had a very strict social code of etiquette and parties to follow, there were days of ‘calling’ when you would receive your visiting guests, you moved about depending on the season, in the city in Spring, sailing in summer, in the fall, in the country for the grouse and pheasant and hunting (fox) etc. There was an entire system set up so one was always busy. This work was not ‘making’ money, as they had no need of that, but they also had the social pressure to be ‘doing something’ and often very specifically WHAT is was they were to be doing.

When the working class suddenly found themselves in the middle and able to allow their children the freedom to not slave away at chores and work, there was no structure in place to fill their ‘leisure time’. They had not social or class pressure to make sure they were doing charity work, or being read up enough to have a good conversation at ‘the club’ etc. So, suddenly we have a new generation born with the freedom from work their parents and grandparents never knew and no guidance as to what to do with that free time. Most parents may have bemoaned their lazy children, but  to the cries, “I am bored” were most likely heard, “Well, when I was your age I had to plow the field and dig ditches etc you should be grateful” and surely they should have been, but is it any wonder they had no guidance and therefore slowly became our generations? The blind leading the blind.

Even though many families of two working parents may not have much leisure time, what do they instill or ask of their own children? Do they waste away in front of the TV/ computer/cell phone? Have we merely made the new rule of “Be lazy and wasteful now because in a few years you are going to have to work to pay off your college debt, and do what we have to do?” So, is it any wonder that when we busy modern people have our leisure time we do nothing with it? We have been taught and conditioned since then to have that time that is not spent ‘working’ to be spent ‘wasting’ or as we modern people call it ‘relaxing’ Or, “I really deserve this rest, I had such a busy week”. Do we really want to use our time  that is not spent at making money to merely sit and stare? Aren’t  those times between work our real LIVING? And if so, should we start to reconsider how we use it? Should we have busy time so that we can also WORK for ourselves?

Though it seems to have started with the Boomers in the 1950s, we can hardly blame them. The entire “TEEN” movement was probably a response to the new middleclass youth not having any direction as to how to use their LEISURE time. Therefore, they spent more time together, separate from the adults, and had to make an entirely new social structure based on ‘hanging out’ and ‘their music’ and ‘rebelling against the adults’ because, really, the new middle class parents didn’t know HOW to tell these youths to spend their time. They had come from generations of people who worked from dawn to dusk and fell to bed exhausted and were glad to have two minutes together to read or sew or go to dances with their family.

Even the very socializing aspect of the two generations were separating more in the late 40’s into the 1950s. While these parents may have gone to a dance WITH their parents, their children, becoming increasingly separate from them, have their own fun time and their own use for their leisure time.

So, what does all of this mean? Is it just an interesting sociological historical discussing? No, I think when we begin to understand where we came from and why it is we do what we do:how we work, how we view teenagers, how we view our own futures and theirs and our leisure time, we can begin to take more control over our own lives.

Now, if you are completely 100% happy using your leisure time the way you do, then wonderful no problem. But, for me, I know when I lived more in the modern world, I had much leisure time but often found myself feeling anxious, or aimless, or hopeless. Sometimes the sheer amount of possibilities were so mind numbing, you’d end up doing nothing more than watching TV or going online. I didn’t know until I started to fill my hours with learning skills, reading more, studying and actually LIVING my life, what I was missing was simply proper use of my Leisure time and my Work time.

As a homemaker it can be trickier as we make our own schedules, but I have found that my ‘work hours’ can indeed be fun. And that what I want to improve on in my ‘work’ I use my leisure time to read and practice those skills and to think and plan to add more such skills to my life. If you are a person who works out of the home, you still have leisure time. Are you happy with how you spend it? If you suddenly took 30 minutes out of your leisure time away from the TV/computer, would you merely sit and stare? Ask yourself, what would you do with that 30 minutes? If you don’t know and you want to know, then that is where you can begin to think about all the things you always think about ‘wanting to do’.

“Oh, when I win the lottery I am going to do this. Oh, when I retire, I am definitely going to do that. If I had more free time I’d probably get started on that.” Well, time is a finite commodity. The lottery, retirement, and the future may come, but why sit about waiting. IF some of the things you say you would do in those circumstances only involve money, say “If I win the lottery I’d get a bigger/nicer house” well, until you win it, why not think about what it is in the desire or dream that would make you happy? Is it the house size, the cleaner nicer rooms? Because, you can, on a more modest scale, begin to make over your own home. And then you will think, “Well, I’d love new drapes so maybe I should try to sew some of my own.” You get the sewing machine and start learning that. Then, “I’d love a painting here, but I can’t find what I’m looking for, maybe if I get a canvas and some paints, well, I can’t draw or paint,” so maybe I will use my computer to download some pretty images and decoupage them. And it goes on and on like that and before you know it, you are LIVING your life. You are following little paths to new adventures and you still have not retired nor won the lottery.

Do we only think that the wealthy or the retired have more fun or more control over their lives? They may have more time in a way we do not, but we still have time and brains and drive. Perhaps when we look at what it is of them we covet, we might find things we could do and learn now to have our own version of that.

Obviously, we still must dream. To imagine or hope for things in the future is part of the drive that makes a life. But, if the dreaming is all there is, if we are happy with our lives merely being an imaginative version of TV or movies, in that we just day dream it up, we may be surprised to find our futures rather different than the dream. Are we simply making excuses of ‘oh, well if I had what she had, or that much money, or didn’t have to work’ instead of saying, this is the money I have the time I have now, lets get to living and how can I get more time and money, if that is what I need. If the answer is spend less, have a budget etc and that sounds too hard, well tough. Having a real life IS work, but it can be enjoyable work, but few things just plop down into peoples laps. Even the very wealthy still have to ‘work at’ things to make their life have meaning and purpose. As much as we would like to think one long vacation of buying things would not a happy life mane.

We need to work towards our dreams and using our leisure time in work might sound odd, but work you enjoy or for a goal you want or to tackle a skill at your discretion is and can be fun. And though something like ‘building a bookcase’ might seem silly or pointless, you have to remember WE assign value to things. IF we think it not important to care about the little things, embroidering a hankie or making a spice cabinet, how will we value bigger things? And how will we value people and skills? NO wonder we care little for local handcrafted items, who cares, it’s not important.  It might be EASIER to go to Target and buy a bookcase, but isn’t it more fulfilling to build one yourself?

I suppose the point of this whole post is that I have found my life after I thought it lived out there somewhere in the future. Through some magic haze or some great passionate moment, suddenly my life would be presented to me: Ta-Dah! And I think many modern people feel this way and much of that belief structure is from our media driven society. Movies and TV shows have to, by their very nature, have such moments. Someone is going along and then suddenly, a montage of events, and they cut off all their hair or they throw down that tool and walk out of their job, or some dramatic moment and their life is there, cue ending music. Yet, this is not how real life works. Entertainment is such a large part of our lives, the TV and the computer and movies are so accessible that sometimes they can become more of a reality than actual reality. Our brain doesn’t intrinsically know what we are taking in visually is real or not, so we form patterns in our lives based on fictional characters in fictional cirmcumstances. And then we often find ourselves, we modern people, doing some drastic  thing or taking some dramatic moment, such as chopping off our hair, or quitting that job, or moving again and then waiting for our life to begin. As if somehow that moment will bring forth that life changing moment. I know, I did it so often. The very start of this project was one of those moments, only this time it worked for me because I began to realize that living in 1955 wasn’t just pretty dresses and people holding doors for me. As I began to study more, and read, and then put into practice skills I found I was not play acting any longer but actually ME, the real me ,starting to lead a life. I found that work, yes work in my leisure time was not only fulfilling but actually fun and the desire for tv and such entertainment ALL the time lessened. And then when I did partake of it, it was much sweeter as it was not all the time and I could also put it into perspective of my actual life. Yes, that was  great show/movie, but that isn’t how life really it, but it was fun or sad or whatever, now back to my life.

I really think that blur of line between reality and entertainment causes many problems in our modern world. We have generations of people raised by TV and they can’t understand why their lives won’t be like that. I think that is why so many younger people can play video games for hours on end, as it is almost a way to plug into what they think life is: it has more reality than reality does. I think, in a way, that is sad for those generations as they are missing out on so much of what they could do themselves. And no wonder grown people in their 30’s wear t-shirts with cartoon characters on it and dress, basically, like a 10 year old boy, we don’t understand the real world. We have been reared and educated through it, we identify with it, it is a sort of security blanket that makes that great unknown future, which we don’t know how to address or how to get there, easier to bear.

And that is it. That’s the secret to middle class happiness it seems. Start living your life. Don’t waste your life in moments of ‘oh, when THIS happens, then I’ll have fun, be rich, be fulfilled, be happy, be dressed nice, have nice clothes and things, be happy” because what if that doesn’t come or if it does come and you do suddenly win the lottery, do you really think after the initial shock you will be happy? If you still have the same set of behaviors and lessons we all learned since the Baby boomers of wasting our leisure time?

We need to make structure and to have things be important to us, or we cease to care for ourselves and then those around us. People can laugh and say “OH, how silly to take the time to set the table with different glasses and ironed linen napkins, salad forks etc. WE don’t care about that anymore” but, what do we, as modern people, care about? Are we, our family unit NOT important enough now to have a nice table with dishes and conversation? Only the wealthy people deserve that? It doesn’t matter, but does sitting and wasting time on tv matter more? We have so released ourselves from the need to care of be held by any structure that we often just find ourselves floating about aimless.

Now, I don’t want negative structures of people knowing their own place to return, or any nonsense about discrimination, but things such as table manners, dressing nicely and for the occasion, courtesy and manners to strangers and family and the Responsibility of the Self. I often am surprised when people are shocked by how children act or how that woman seems so put upon by her husband, but it is all learned behavior based on example. How we live now teaches more than any lessons we can give. IF we have children and they see us busy doing and learning, dressing for dinner, being kind to one another, just being generally good people, caring about the little things because they do give purpose to our days and make others happy, than they will follow suit naturally and so will their children. To think we can waste away in front of the TV, be in debt, eat what we want wherever etc and then suddenly expect our children to not be that way, is ridiculous.

So, again, to my point. I just want any of us who might feel we can do more or are wishing for a ‘different sort’ of life, that you may be surprised how much control you have over such destiny. Waiting for some magic fairy tale or Hollywood moment will only make us waste our leisure time. The more we dissect and ask ourselves what it is that I want out of my life when “I win the lottery, retire, etc “ then we can set about to finding creative solutions to those problems now. Even if the answer is, “Well, I want to get out of debt” Even that is doable without the lottery. First of all, start a budget! Use cash. And here is the biggest secret of all: Don’t spend more than you have. I am not being glib, but the fact that we are, as a nation, okay with the levels of debt we live in is surely a sign that we are not paying attention to our own lives. And if we are not doing that, than I am worried that we are not getting the most out of our lives. I want all of us, any of us to see and realize our potential and get started on LIVING our lives now and  if we win the lottery or get to retirement, then we will be even more prepared as we will know how to use our LEISURE TIME.

I don’t want to find blame for why we are, but to understand why we are and to see that, indeed, we can change. I can honestly say that the very nature and quality of my life has improved immensely because I now care about the little things, set about learning new skills and make realistic goals that I then HOLD MYSELF TO  and make myself get done, even when I don’t want to.

So, you can sit on your bed and wait for supper, as our character was first wont to do, or you can get up and make better use of you Leisure Time, which is really, your Life.

Here is to ACTION!


  1. I really appreciate this post. I work & go to school, so my free time is sporadic, yet I find that instead of enjoying it, I sit in front of the television, not even having a real interest in what I watch. A combination of thingsm including your blog, have helped me see that in order to move forward, I need to go back, and try a more "old fashioned" approach to living. If I'm sucessful, I will truly owe you a debt!

  2. Wow. This is deep. And something more people need to be aware of and think about.

    My poor husband is from a society that does nothing but push, push, push for monetary and worldly success. He doesn't know the meaning of the word "leisure". Going too far the other way is just as unhealthy. He has no hobbies and no idea where to even start looking for one. That's one of my goals for him, to help him find a hobby!

    I think hobbies are very important for a person to have. It helps fill that leisure time that so many people have, and it's a more constructive use of the time. Plus you have a finished produce to show people. I rarely just sit. I'm always doing something with my hands. My parents really encouraged all of us to develop hobbies and find something that we enjoyed doing.

  3. spinnakersu-Good luck. I looked to the past for answers and have found them. Do we need to LIVE in the past, no, we can learn and take the good, understand why it is we are the way we are and then set about ways to improve our life. I know you can do it.
    Rachel-thank you, I do tend to analyize the whole picture as it often leads me to understand myself and why the things are they way they are. That is wonderful that you can help your husband to find a use of leisure time, as you say you can go too far to the other extreme as well. It is all about balance and thought and perspective.

  4. LOVED this post!

    I especially liked:

    But, for me, I know when I lived more in the modern world, I had much leisure time but often found myself feeling anxious, or aimless, or hopeless. Sometimes the sheer amount of possibilities were so mind numbing, you’d end up doing nothing more than watching TV or going online. I didn’t know until I started to fill my hours with learning skills, reading more, studying and actually LIVING my life, what I was missing was simply proper use of my Leisure time and my Work time.

    I have felt the same way as the first part but have been making some changes (like what is mentioned in the last part) and some of them have been inspired by you. (o:

  5. Oh, thank you quiet gracious life-To think I have inspired anyone is such an honor and compliment. I love that we can use this technology to share and learn from one another. Brava you and good work. We can all do it and really begin to LIVE and take PART IN our lives again.

  6. Funny; I was just about to get off of my computer to practice my flute, put away laundry and do a general cleaning of my little abode when I saw that you had another post. How interesting that this is what the subject was! Thank you for the extra oomph!

  7. Not to be too pedantic, but the baby boomers became teenagers in the 1960s (well, 1959 for the oldest) so the teen in the video is most defenately not a baby boomer.

  8. Pedantic and can't spell. Great combination I have!

  9. I think the video is actually just labeled 1950 as a general year but I think it is actually from 1955 or thereabouts. And my point was that those becoming teens during this time (even in the war years teens were called bobby soxers and began to have their own separate identity)were still often children of people who were new to the middle class and who were allowed a freedom their parents generation did not have. I think it still applies. My hubbys mother was born in 1942 and still considers herself a baby boomer as an identity of a generation. And, really my whole point was that we, as modern people, do seem to, as a general rule, waste time more than use it.

  10. I agree that it is a sad state when adults do not act like grown-ups. I could not imagine if any of my peers (I am 40) wanted to play Atari or Nintendo - I do not think I have seen a video game since junior high. I am grateful that I am old enough to have come-of-age before cable TV, and have never seen MTV or any of those reality shows that have been popular in recent years. Give me PBS, my books, 1/2 hr. per day on-line and I am happy as a lark. I agree that unplugging seems to be the key in finding free time to do substantial things with family and self - not to mention being a wife and Mother.

  11. Thank you once again 50sGal for a great post. It is an inspiration to get up and DO. We have a life to live and let's do it beautifully and well, like a lot of grow-ups from yesteryear did. Here's to living life now, Apron-revolutionites. (Linda)

  12. "If the answer is spend less, have a budget etc and that sounds too hard, well tough. Having a real life IS work, but it can be enjoyable work, but few things just plop down into peoples laps."

    This part had me laughing. Yes, Mom.

  13. PL-See, I would be a wretched mother, who'd want to hear that, right?
    Linda-I am glad you appreciated my post. Apronites onward and upward!
    Kindred Spirit-I am closer to you in age, and though I do remember video games and even had a Commodore 64 computer/video system when I was young and I do remember MTV, we were probably at the cusp of the beginning. Now, there is a generation that can look longingly at the video games. My husband is actually of that early generation, but finds he prefers typewriters and pipes to video games. We used to play before 1955, not very often, but since then we neither seem to really miss it. Again, modern technology is not bad, but I think most things are fine in moderation. It is sad when a child today may spend all his 'leisure time' literally playing video games. I am not sure how parents do it 'nowadays'. God bless em.

  14. Thank you for this great post, 50's gal! I need to rethink my leisure time. I'm so in pain that sometimes just being hypnotized by the computer or the TV helps me take my mind off it, but I have to find better ways to spend my time when I'm not cleaning or cooking...I feel better about myself when I accomplish or make something!

  15. At least to me, the problem is not how much leisure time we have, or whether we are "middle class," or "working class," but what we do with our time, or what we consider important.

    Josiah Franklin, Benjamin Franklin's father, was a poor candle maker. Yet this man accomplished much. Among his many talents, he could draw "prettily", played the violin, and was considered a mechanical genius.

    Benjamin Franklin was an autodidact. While working a sixty hour week, and using a publication that he thought was the most elegant periodical of the day, he taught himself better writing skills. Wanting to improve his math skills, he procured a textbook and learned the math he needed.

    My paternal grandmother was born in 1892. She only received an 8th grade education, but she learned how to play the piano, and in her adult years, had voice training. She earned her living through music the rest of her life.

    A maternal relative, born in the late 1890's, only received an 8th grade education and, along with two other siblings, was required to work to support the college education of the youngest brother. He worked in a factory. He learned to play several instruments and earned money through the depression via music. Like Josiah, he was considered a "mechanical genius."

    I think what we are witnessing is a learning issue. The drive and excitement to learn is only experienced by the few who are able to embrace the challenge of a steep learning curve to experience the satisfaction of true achievement. We have lost the joy of making and have been left with a cheap, unsatisfying, imitation.


  16. Anon-very true, although I do want to point out that I am not saying there is anyone or any class to blame. I am saying, by our looking at the situation, as you have done here, we can view past examples and then use them in our own life to emulate it. I certainly don't think only certain people are 'chosen' to be doers. I think many people may not have drive simply as part of their surroundings or their environment as they are growing up and may feel aimless or pointless. If so, they could realize a new drive and find a very real purpose or meaning.
    And, unfortunately, things such as class and our amount of free time does affect what we think important. But, we are not restricted BY those things, but when we dissect our own individual situations and then look to the past and find a positive comparison we wish to emulate or be inspired by, I think we can, no matter class or amount of free time, evaluate what IS important to us and can then change it. If I thought any of us were stuck in a horrid situation due to our class or amount of free time, I don't know if I'd bother to write about it, as I have come to want to discuss those very things we can change and to realize our own potential through the past. Really, the point of my initial project.

  17. Also the time Franklin lived was rather different than say a working class family in the city in the height of Victorian Industrial Revolution. And I am not saying that the working classes did not create, not by any means, but those who did had to be very good with their time as much of their days were spent, even young children, laboring. So, my point being a few generations had had to manage all their time very carefully and then suddenly young people had more free time than their parents and their parents couldn't understand why they didn't fill it but rather 'wasted' it. Just an observation, really.

  18. And, I certainly agree that "We have lost the joy of making and have been left with a cheap, unsatisfying, imitation". SO true, so true.

  19. No, that's what would make you a good mother; you're realistic.

  20. Yes I agree with PL - that's what makes a good mother. You really are going to be excellent parents when the time is right for you. (Linda)

  21. First – congratulations on your happy life. I already knew this, since it has shone through your blog. I have been followed your transformation from the very beginning. :)

    No maids in Denmark for Danish homemakers. They had to do all the work themselves, and honestly, I don’t understand why a homemaker should have a maid, except for the prestige. But perhaps my opinion is due to the fact that I am Danish. I would never have a maid if I were a homemaker, I would save the money and use them on e.g. nice holidays with my family.

    Fortunately, I have never had these “problems” with my leisure time, since I have always had a lot to do. Things I wanted to do, things that needed to be done, but I also want to be creative and relax with my little family. I have never watched much TV (about two hours a week, equaling to one movie) and although I love my pc, I’m not addicted to it. Yes, to your blog and website – shame on you! ;) In Denmark the average Dane watches TV 3.25 hours A DAY! I simply don’t understand how they have time to watching all that nonsense. I only use TV, and also the pc, for relaxation, it is my reward having done all my duties.

    You said: “they will follow suit naturally and so will their children” – you are generally right about that, but I have seen so many examples on the reverse. I think it is commotion against the parents and their norm. I tidy up and clear things out every day, I love everything to look nice, but son’s room looks like a disaster most of the time. He likes it clean and nice, but he it is tough for him to do it, and believe me – I’ve never done it for him. My SIL is very organized and she, herself, and her home is always looking very nice, but her son (19 years old) has become a goth punker. He looks awful and don’t miss an opportunity to rebel against all the values of his parents. I think it is true we can form our children, but the result does not always turn out as we wish to.

    Have a lovely weekend, dear.

  22. Sanne-exactly why I only ever 'guess' what might be the case with children. I have none and therefore my advice in THAT arena is usually worth the paper it is written on and since it is written digitally, I think we know the value of that! It does seem sad that that can happen. I wonder if it is due to the school and general youth media, maybe? I mean if her child lived only at home and not publicly schooled, would he know about GOTH-PUNK in a way that he does now? Of course, you cannot keep your children in a vacuum or isolated all the time (that is the discussion hubby and I have if we had a child which also makes me sort of stop that idea. So hard in modern times with children) And I suppose there is not anything wrong with a different look, such as punk, as long as it is only representing fashion, but I would feel, were it me, to want to ask if they like the lifestyle it represents, which is rebellion. From what are they rebelling. It seems we have set up the pattern (sort of what I was talking about in this post) that you become a teenager and then it is your 'job' to rebel. To sort of rebel for itself, because in modern society, what is there to rebel against? Society, as a whole, is a sort of smörgåsbord of different values, style of dress, manner of speech, attitudes etc. There is every aspect available. Perhaps the rebellion then simply becomes to choose one of these paths that is NOT the path your child is on. I mean, even my very project here is a rebellion. I am living counter to my society and its norms. If my child chose to do so, I certainly could not, unless I wanted to be a hypocrite, so no. It is so complex, raising children.
    It is very impressive that the average Dane only watches that much TV, the average American watches more. I found this a sobering statistic: According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.

  23. Thank you for your nice reply to my comment.

    I know you don’t have children, and never have claimed being an expert in child raising. I wouldn’t either, since I only have one and children (even siblings) are very different. I think my punker niece is doing precisely the reverse of his parents to show his uproar. He knows that his look and his behaviour is what his parents, especially his mother, hates. Unfortunately, it is not just fashion - he is tattoed and pierced all over now, and I’m sure he will regret most of it in near future. My SIL has always got angry with him, and I think that is the problem, it will never be better that way.

    I think my son is just a lazy teenager and will get over it, for most part he is a very considering and well-behaved boy, I always hear that he has such good manners. That is nice to hear, then I know I have succeeded as a parent. :)

    And yes, it is complex to raise children, but it is worth it, and it should not stop you from having your own. :) You grow with the task, as we Danes say.

    I have heard about the Americans watching a lot of TV. I think it is a bad habit, like biting your nails, and you are the proof that it can be changed.

    Have a lovely weekend, dear.

    PS: What is “smörgåsbord” – it sounds Swedish to me? I guess it is a large buffet on which you can just choose what you want.

  24. PPS: I think it is due to the general youth. son often complains and says things like: They do this and they are allowed to that. Then I tell him that we don't. Because all the neighbours are stealing doesn't mean that it is ok to do it and that we should do it.

  25. Sanne-good point. Here is the definition of Smorgasbord: •Smörgåsbord is a Swedish word which refers to a type of Scandinavian meal served buffet-style with multiple dishes of various foods on a table. In Norway it is called koldtbord and in Denmark it is called kolde bord
    We use it in American English both to mean a laid out supper in buffet style as well as a term to show a vast quantity of choice, such as "That showroom is a smorgasbord of fabrics and styles"
    I was also curious, do they have 'old folks homes' or "elderly facilities' in Denmark? Is it part of your culture to 'put away' the elderly in a medically run hospital type environment? Just curious.
    You sound like a wonderful mother. As I have said, hubby and I have talked about a child more now than ever in our married life, but we are still no where near deciding. With all that I have learned I don't even think I would consider it UNTIL I had money started in a fund for his education BEFORE he arrived. With the cost of education and healthcare here, many people simply cannot 'afford' to have children. I may end up being one of that statistic.

  26. Rebelling against ones parents is such an interesting topic. I know several women who have chosen to stay at home, and keep house and care for their children rather than to work, and their "feminist" mothers (who were part of the ERA movement) have practically disowned them. Ironically, the the "feminist" mothers, of whom I am speaking, were deemed "rebels" by their (1950's) Mother's for wanting a career outside of the home. It is interesting, to me that some "women's libbers" are so against women wanting to homemaker/Mother.

    I believe, that It is a true feminist who can respect a woman's right to choose her own path, what ever her path may be.

    Just my 2 cents...

    *Kindred Spirit*

  27. So true Kindred SPirit. We are lucky to have CHoices and such choices should be RESPECTED by our fellow women. I suppose we are some how MORE free if we work outside the home and have our meals manufactured in packets and popped in the micro, or only have clothes and interior design items which we can purchase en masse in great unfeeling stores. A career can be had AT home as well as OUTSIDE the home.

  28. I would love to hear how you pronounce "Smörgåsbord" in the US! :)

    Thank you. I hope son one day will look back and also think that I've been a good mother. Right now he thinks I'm tough and unfairm but that is part of being a teenager, I suppose.

    Yes, we have nursery homes, but they are run in a more cosy and warm way than the hospital like facilities you have mentioned before in your blog - I remember an early post where you came home in a bad mood. Great-granny is getting a small (50 sqm) luxurious apartment of her own, she will live as she did at home in her previous apartment. Only change is that she can ring a bell and get help, she can choose to eat her food at her own or join the others and there are lots of entertaining, journes and activities. I want to go there when I get old - like a long luxurious holiday. :)

  29. The American English pronounciation is (Smore-ghis-Board)or thereabouts, not sure if that helps. I would LOVE to hear your Danish or Swedish pronounciation! I bet it sounds lovely! And, do they have such a think in Denmark as " kolde bord"?

  30. Agreed here, and have been going through little epiphanies of my own about the same issues.

    For me, it's a perspective problem. I have things I want to accomplish, like learning to knit, painting a room, organizing a closet, baking from scratch, etc, but when I have the time after work or on weekends to do it, I perceive it as more work (drudgery) to do. Maybe it's different because I work full time, and on some days the last thing I want to do after getting home is something that requires energy (or thinking, lol). But I know I need to push myself to get it done instead of complaining and sighing about it and not doing anything about it. I wonder if that's part of our problem....we've (generally speaking) been allowed to coast through life with no real accountability, so when faced with the prospect of learning these types of skills gone by it seems like drudgery work, or too daunting a task to think we can ever learn. I surprised the heck out of myself when I signed up for a beginning knitting class last October, me who had never even picked up a sewing needle in her life let alone yarn of any kind! But I learned enough to be able to teach myself to go past what I learned in class, and what's more surprising to me, is that I HAVE gone past that point and am still sticking with it, something I've never accomplished before in my life (sticking with something long enough to master it). With that tiny little success, of knowing I can do it if I put my mind to it, whole new worlds of thought have been opened up to me and I now have the desire and passion to learn other things.

    I think, too, it's a matter of semantics. The word "leisure", to me, means doing something fun or relaxing, like snuggling up with a good fiction novel or vegging out watching a movie with my hubby. BUT, I've allowed myself to get lazy over the years to where if I don't have leisure time every second I'm away from my paid job, I feel cheated. I'm learning to look at it differently, little by little.

  31. IT really is a whole new way of viewing the world. And for our generations it really involves us having to, completely on our own, grow up and make ourselves do it, as you said, there really is no accountability to anything or anyone. It is harder for those who have to work outside of the home. Before my project I had sometime that I was 'out of work' and honestly besides art school for awhile, I was rather lazy. I wasted ALOT of time. When I look back I am ashamed of myself especially when I compare myself to what I do now. I also have been in the workforce and even owned a business (there you work ALL the time and are really stressed out) and the veg out time was the release. SO, as someone who can focus my whole day without outside work, I understand it might appear to be 'easier' but that too has its own pitfalls. Without the structure of 'having to do' there is such ease to be lazy. Now, since 1955, when I said, "Well, this is my job, my career, I HAVE to make all the meals and plan them well and budget and learn to sew and clean better and learn those skills etc" it WAS a job, but I then found out that the drudgery was actually not so, and I felt good about myself. Even when it feels like hard work or I don't want to do those dishes again today and clean the bathroom, now I Just do it. I look at it and think, "Well, it is my job" and because of that it gets done and I find MORE leisure time to then focus on the other aspects such as sewing and baking etc. So, it really can be hard for the 'working girl' but there must be hope, as you said, to feel the joy of using that 'leisure time' to do something creative or to make your home more a place to stay. What I find interesting is when hubby and i BOTH worked outside of the home we shared the housework. It was not that I was meant to work 40 hours and then also to do all the cooking adn cleaning, we split the jobs according to skill and such. But, it seems some women have to work 40 hours AND make dinner AND do all the cleaning AND the laundry and I just can't imagine. I mean, if it were me, I would say, "Uh, excuse me, let's do our share", but then again that is just me. I also don't think I would have stayed married to someone who did not seem to genuinely care for me, which means helping during the hard bits. So the modern woman, really, has such a full plate. I do think, though, that we seem to becoming more aware of the improtance and actualy gratification of the Homeskills. And, I hope our little movement can grow and develop even for those hard working 'career girls'.

  32. Oh my, 50's gal. There is just do much about this post and the comments to say but I'll try and keep it short.

    First off, I love that you've posted this film again . The first was one of the early ones of yours that spoke to me. I think your point about what we consider leisure time is key. Having young children and a husband and home to care for I sometimes feel like I have very little "down time" as I call it. To me down time is when I do things I want to whether it be baking bread, reading your blog, or reading anything really. My "on time" is when I'm doing chores, taking the kids to appointments, grocery shopping, running errands for my family, volunteer work, organizing, planning, etc. All the duties of running a household. It seems that there is so much to do that I never get it done so I take some down time when I can, like reading a magazine while waiting in the school pick up line. But you've got me questioning my thoughts here. I'm not one to watch much tv- an hour a week is rare- but I'm often reading or on line. I'm going to give this more thought as I love the idea of being "done" with work.

    Now on to your thoughts on becoming a parent. I don't mean to sound like I know you or your husband but after reading your blog for nearly a year I truely like you and want to offer some advice. I know this may seem strange. As a woman who has struggled with infertility a bit I must warn you not to take your
    fertility for granted. There is no perfect time to have a child because no matter what you plan you never know what your child will be like or what life will bring you. If this is something you want to do then do so but with the understanding that it will be an experience that will push you beyond your expectations and hopefully bring you more joy than you've ever known. Parenthood also brings up our own issues. We all come into it hoping to heal the wounds of our own childhood (no matter how ideal there's always something) and the reality isn't always easy. But what's wonderful is you get to re-live the good too. So don't let it scare you. It's daunting but you and your hubby have put more thought onto it than most people I know.

    I hope I haven't over stepped my bounds here but if you were my neighbor and we'd been talking over coffee for a year about this I'd offer the same advice.


  33. S-Thank you for that advice. I do know the 'clock is ticking' as it were, but my mother had me in her 40's and we were very close. Yet, she also now has Alzheimer and sometimes I feel as if I did not get her as long as my older sisters (Who were born when she was in her early 20s). I also worry, rightly so I believe, that I might get Alzheimer. They do think it has a genetic link and I wonder, should I have a child who will, when in her 30's, have to no longer know me or to go through what it is to go through someone with that disease? I think, perhaps, I merely think about it too much, but to me a child is such a gift and responsibility. When I think you have this little being whose very way of thinking and belief structure, understanding and knowledge, likes and dislikes are so dependent upon you and your spouse, that is such a major responsibility. I am not saying I would not be up to it, and in fact this past year has had me thinking the MOST about it I have ever thought about it. I often, as mentioned before, will imgaine a little guy following me about holding my skirt as I go through my day asking 'why' and the joy of telling him why. Or discovering and sharing things with him. I also know the work that would be involved, yet can't really know, as our few friends who have had children always say, "Oh, you don't know how hard it is at the beginning until you are doing it".
    There is also the aspect of adoption. Hubby and I, even when I was younger, when we discussed a child we did discuss adoption.

  34. We have read about and seen stories on India, for example, where they have orphanages with a little basket and a bell outside and nightly women, who cannot afford their child or had them outside of the belief system and therefore have to get rid of them, leave them. We think of all the children already born who no one loves or cares for. I become angry when I think of our own modern American version of foster care. Having done away with the 'orphanage' set up we used to have, children are now separated and shipped out to random homes of people who often (not all I know there are wonderful foster parents) merely take in children for the monthly allotment given them by the government. So, there you have children who, when they grow out of their 'cuteness' are basically left to float about the system. So, there are so many children already alive who need love. But, again, we really would want and need to feel more set up even emotionally.
    I have considered giving myself a two year plan with this year and to see if we could 'plan' for a child in that time. If we found ourselves not wanting a child at that point, then all we will have done is been more frugal and better about setting aside some money, if we do decide to go ahead, then we will have had the time to plan monetarily, emotionally, and even in the house. I certainly would not want a baby while I was in the middle of a kitchen reno, that would only add to the stress I imagine. I guess I would just want a home that is done enough and a yard and garden finished to my liking and money set aside specifically for the little guy BEFORE he arrived. It would allow me to focus more of my attention on him rather than if I need to get that wall painted, those plants in, oh, and still take care of the baby. We have even though as far ahead as if we could ever afford a little piece of land in NH as we have talked about to make sure we would have some place we own, other than where we live, so if it is soo expensive when he was an adult out of college and he only wanted to work a local low paying job, that he would not have the stress of not having a home to call his own. So, we do indeed think about it. And, this year, I think hubby and I need to decide if we are on board for this two year plan or not. Even in my pre 1955 days when I was more likely to just fly into a think and try it (and really I am still like that with most things) but that is my life and my hubby's' life for some reason I have always felt to make such decisions with a child would not be fair, in my way of thinking, because one should really be ready for a child. SO, who knows. I know if and when it happens, I will hopefully still be blogging and you will all know about it! And beside, I have promised myself to write a book out of what I have experienced so far with this project, I could not see that happening while I have a child.
    Well, if we do have a child he will most likely be horribly wordy, like mummy and daddy or else he wont' get a word in edge ways!

  35. I didn't read your post carefully and haven't read the comments so hope I'm not duplicating. First, if the mother was complaining about not having enough time, why doesn't she get her son to help her with the household chores? Good grief, we lived in town and had all kinds of chores to do every day - besides having our homework done. Leisure time? One hour of TV a day - MAX. We were required to read besides school work. I'm saying, "Where the heck were this kid's parents, and why weren't they supervising him?" Teens need structure just as much or more than little tykes.

  36. Packrat-that was sort of the point of my post:that many 50's parents wanted a perfect world for their offspring and so allowed them to 'have it all' but without understanding what idleness without direction would do. I know it was not true for all, but I do know many wanted to create the perfect place and worked hard to have a wonderful carefree world for their offspring. But, really, without any hisotrical precedence and without guidance, the wayward teen sort of lead to the aimlessness that became drug/counter culture.

  37. 50's Gal, I'm glad to hear you are considering adoption. A child is a blessing no matter how he or she comes into your life. :)


  38. my life has been one long "idle without direction".

  39. A good post. Very well written and thought out. Yes, it was funny -- we baby-boomers didn't have a lot to do. Our parents worked hard for the little Levittown houses, but there were no chores -- we didn't have to chop wood or do farm chores. It left the following generations from the builder generation on down with too much leisure time. You are right, we have to make ourselves do good with our leisure time. So much today does not come natural: good use of leisure time, exercise, eating right, staying out of debt. Just the opposite comes naturally today.


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