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I would love you to also spend some time investigating the gendered role that golf plays in work ie corporate golf tournaments. As an elder millennial entering management in an industry where my bosses were so excited when covid restrictions lifted enough that golf tournaments were back, I want to burn golf as business development to the ground. It’s male and white and we are still telling young female engineers that they need to learn to golf instead of telling old men engineers that we shouldn’t be doing business on a golf course anymore. Anyway I hate golf.

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“I want to burn golf as business development to the ground.” 💯

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I'd like to know more about how compulsory, work-related recreation compares to recreation you choose for yourself. If you golf because your boss likes to do business on the golf course, does that count as recreation at all?

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Nov 20, 2022·edited Nov 20, 2022

Yes! I worked for a company and a department that was at least 2/3 to 3/4 female... and yet dominated by male managers. For years, we had department golf outings -- "team building events" -- which were then usually followed by a barbecue at someone's house or a gathering at a bar/restaurant later. Some of the women did go golf, especially if it was a team/"best ball" thing, but most (including me) would just show up for the barbecue later. Ours was a "support" department, and I know golf was far more common in client-facing areas. I often heard women complaining about their managers taking off early on a Friday afternoon in the name of "business development," when they were going golfing. I sometimes wondered what the men would do if the women wanted, say, a spa day as a "team building event," and how kindly that would be looked on by management...! I know a lot of ambitious women at the company who took golf lessons specifically as a career-advancing tool.

There was one guy who reported to our department (in Toronto) but actually worked in Ottaw -- whenever there was a golf event or some other social occasion (Christmas party), they would invent some kind of meeting(s) or other excuse why he needed to be in Toronto (on the company dime, of course -- this was before Zoom became common), and then he would stay and golf/attend the party.

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Yes! There's a whole angle here about how those long hours and weekends away golfing are justifiable because it's important for a man's job. (Skiing too? I know the higher-ups at work talk constantly with the client higher-ups about skiing like it's a thing everyone does on the weekend, but no idea how much people actually *do* it as business development the way they do golf.)

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So true! It's so exclusionary!

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Show me a group of four women of working age who all can schedule 6 hours of uninterrupted leisure time on a weekend. Half the issue is that in order to have the full “golf outing experience” is you have to find peers who are *also* available for that amount of time. Even if individual women desire to eschew societal norms and invest in their own leisure time, best of luck finding a critical mass of other women to participate with you.

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In my working/welfare class neighborhood of origin, there was one non-productive, entirely recreational leisure activity that adult women blocked off time for: Bingo.

Much mocked, much derided, class-coded as fuck, if your Mum or Gran played Bingo every week, then they were the kind of people that were the butt of all the jokes about our neighborhood. But now I’m thinking that it was a pretty radical act to insist on this leisure time. It certainly cost no more than, say, a few beers at the corner bar of the weekend. And the bingo hall was a space free of husbands, kids, jobs, and housework, with an activity that required concentration, yet could be enjoyed even when exhausted from all of the above.

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Also? Bingo is fun as hell.

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Nov 20, 2022Liked by Anne Helen Petersen

I've been thinking about something highly related lately in regards to my marriage and how my husband and I spend "leisure time" together. (This is going to be kinda long and rambling, so apologies in advance!)

We have two young kids, ages 4 and 6. Both of us work from home full-time—something that is "new" as of COVID (even though it has been nearly three years, it still feels new, and also somehow endlessly old!). We're spending more time together than ever before.

If anything, my husband is better with housekeeping duties than I am. He cooks and tidies, is often first awake with the kids, and manages our household finances. I manage kid appointments and the family social calendar, buy clothes and gifts for all the myriad kid birthdays and family holidays, and, of course, do my share of housework, too.

When it comes to individual leisure, on a daily basis at least, I enjoy taking walks and going to the gym (arguably, would these maybe be considered health maintenance? They certainly perform both for me nowadays.). My husband plays video games and watches movies. He's not super outdoorsy.

So, at a glance, it seems that our marriage somewhat defies the expected norm, both in terms of household division of labor and where our leisure occurs.

Here's the thing that I've been thinking about lately, and that has been a bit of a hot topic between me and my husband: our joint leisure time nearly always falls into areas of his interest instead of mine.

It's not that I'm doing things he likes that I expressly DON'T like. For example, we have a standing weekly PC gaming date with friends, and it's something I enjoy. We watch a movie every single Sunday night—again, something I like to do, but, because my husband is very media-focused, is a tradition he's quite attached to.

To be fair, some of the leisure activities I enjoy besides walking and going to the gym are fairly individualistic: I like to draw and write, which are hard to make social, but I also enjoy dancing and going to concerts. Of course, the latter two are difficult to do in the hours between when the kids are in bed and we have to sleep ourselves. But, in a general sense, I've been realizing lately that when it comes to the leisure time my husband and I have with each other, I am much more apt to support his interests rather than visa versa.

That's not to say he doesn't support me and my own interest in my hobbies. But he doesn't want to participate in them. And that is something that's bothered me ... For a variety of reasons, but it was tough to put my finger on as to why. After reading this piece, however, it strikes me that it may be the socialization aspect that's been nagging at me. Am I more agreeable to doing the things my husband likes because I just enjoy them? Or because of my gendered expectation to defer? And is my husband similarly just saying "no" to things I like because he has an easier time saying no to things he doesn't want as a man?

Obviously I don't believe our relationship, and especially this particular current issue I've been pondering, can be boiled down into such black-and-white thinking. But I am certain that this is related to this very topic.

Anyway, that's my piece!

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Nov 21, 2022·edited Nov 21, 2022

I feel this. Most of my leisure time (that precious hour or two between kid bedtime and mine) is spent watching TV, and it's almost always something he wants to watch more than me (sci fi etc). And when there is something that is must watch for me but not him (eg, The Crown) he just doesn't join me for a few nights so I can watch alone (end even that involves negotiation if it clashes with, say, movie night, or Andor night). We recently started doing yoga together in the evenings, and I really like it, mostly because it's something I am more experienced in and better at, and it's something that is mine. That said, we only started on the yoga at his suggestion. It wasn't something I felt I could ask for for myself.

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Yesssss. You get exactly what I mean.

I see you!

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It’s hard to decouple enjoyment you get out of an activity from the social aspect. Do you game by yourself outside of the weekly date? Do you do anything else with the gaming friends?

My husband has done tabletop gaming, and I had absolutely zero interest, even when he was doing it with friends we had in common. Similarly, I knit, and while he likes and has spent time with my knitting friends, he wouldn’t come if that’s all we were doing.

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Good point, Lisa. As far as gaming goes, I don't do much gaming on my own (unless we count Wordle, Spelling Bee, or sudoku). My husband, on the other hand, can be found gaming at pretty much any point in time—even WHILE working!

The friends we game with are friends we do other things with, too, albeit not frequently because they have kids the same age, and we're always either running them around to their kid activities, or when we do plan to get together, inevitably someone gets sick (the joys of early parenthood!)

So, for that particular activity, it's definitely more (for me) something I do for the social engagement. Even though it's not my preferred way to spend time, it's still enjoyable for that reason. And being virtual socialization, gaming is a natural venue for such an activity.

I'm trying to think on if there's any sort of "cis-female-centered" equivalent for virtual socialization. Like, if myself and the wife of the other couple, who shares similar attitudes/relationships to mine regarding gaming in general, could come up with something the four of us could do together virtually, centered around an activity, what would that look like? And would our husbands similarly go along with it?

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This is interesting. I wonder how your stage of life my fit into you & your husband’s approach. When our kids were younger, I remember being tired a lot, and close to broke too. Going out to a concert also involved babysitters, dinner, and of course the tickets.

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Nov 20, 2022Liked by Anne Helen Petersen

It would be really interesting to look at quality of leisure as it relates to optimization, too. If you have less time for leisure it seems like there'd be a lot of pressure to "make the most" of what scarce time you do have (I wrote my dissertation on American travel journalism and this was the big theme from the findings). And even if you have a hobby AND the time for it, it still might not feel quality if you don't think you're making the most of the time (by being The Best at whatever the hobby is).

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yes yes yes (anecdotally, this is much, much, MUCH harder for millennials and gen-z raised under intensive parenting practices/optimization)

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Oh please please say more!

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Yes!! On the extremely occasional moments when I don’t have to work and don’t have the kids, I am so paralyzed by the pressure of making a decision about what to do that I waste my precious time. And sometimes I take a work day off just to organize kid stuff and declutter and somehow that feels like leisure??

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I feel this too. I ended up making a rough schedule for my one hour of leisure time between child bedtime and my bedtime during the week: on Mondays I paint, on Tuesdays I write, etc. I feel silly having a schedule but at least I don't have to spend time thinking about what to do, I can just do it.

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One hundred percent this. My husband and I have opposite schedules which means we don’t have to pay for child care, but it also means we sleep way less. When we do have time off together it feels like there’s such pressure to “get it right” or do something “good” in that time and it’s paralyzing! We mostly end up watch tv shows that neither of us really care about (and have even fallen out of that recently).

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Nov 20, 2022·edited Nov 20, 2022Liked by Anne Helen Petersen

There's a wonderful book that a lot of serious textile artists and makers love — Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. When no one else was doing research like it, she wrote about how women began making textiles and clothing in early civilizations because they could do it communally, in courtyards, and keep an eye on the kids in the same time.

As a single person, not a mother (and I'm grateful, Anne, that you remember and include us at least sometimes, and acknowledge that not all women are mothers) I don't have "hobbies," and I find making art and working with textiles, my lifelong practices, increasingly difficult when have to wear every single hat of financial security and life maintenance all the time and also deal with extreme solitude and the limited space that I can afford. The women I know who are successful in art very often have partners who help support their work. I don't say that to diminish the work in any way, but to acknowledge the reality of a culture where if you're not partnered, it's not easy. And then the culture within art making, and especially textile art and craft, is heavily mom-ified, so I often don't fit in there either.

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Thank you for posting this comment! I, too, am a non-parent and single (long-divorced) person. I've lived alone in a studio condo for the past 15 years. I’ve often thought that the one thing that would make the biggest difference in my creative life is simply having a responsible adult nearby with whom I could share the load of basic life maintenance duties. On top of running my business and being the sole breadwinner, I handle all the domestic labor, all the shopping, all the home repairs and associated planning, etc. If I get sick, there’s no one to pick up the slack. I can’t help but wonder what my creative life might look like if I had a helpmate even one day a week, which would give me at least a few more hours that don’t need to be monetized. But I also find that in many circles there isn’t much sympathy for the challenges faced by people in my position. After all, I don’t have kids or a partner, so how bad could it be, right? So I don’t talk about it often.

(Also, hi everyone! I recently joined as a paid subscriber; this is my first comment here).

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welcome welcome!!!!

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Hi Danica, I just joined too, hello! I so appreciate your comment. Anne H.P. did a wonderful podcast episode on the Money Confidential podcast about the true costs of being single and without children, emotional, financial, and otherwise. (She gets it.) I agree that among the people I know, there's no sympathy at all — pity, sometimes, but that's the last thing I want! I don't need more shame attached to my situation. Like you, I need people I can count on to help me sometimes.

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Welcome from another newbie! I hear you - pity is not only unhelpful but adds to the burden. The risk of being pitied is one of the reasons it's so hard to talk about.

I appreciate your mention of that podcast - I'll definitely give that a listen. Sounds like just what I need.

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Oh, this is real. I'm in my early/mid-30s, single, and disabled. On one hand, I guess I have a lot more "free" (non-paid work time during which no one will die if I watch TV or take a nap or even if I wanted to play golf) but on the other hand, I'm single and disabled. I barely make a living wage for where I live, and the rent, bills, etc., are all my problem, plus, somebody has to sweep the floors and I guess that will have to be me.

I was very lucky that when I got COVID-19 at work, my friends (who don't live nearby) sent me money for food and my mom helped pay for a one time maid service to catch up on all of the chores that didn't get done while I, you know, had COVID-19.

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Ugh, that's real indeed, and none of it is easy. I hope you're okay this week — holidays can be super challenging.

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Oh, man. In peak child-raising years, I felt hugely resentful that my partner spent two nights a week at a gym (where he coached), which meant that he was unavailable for all manner of family activities--and I had nothing comparable. Not even pursuits that I could squeeze in around other things. A little writing, but that was it. Now, I've retired and he's still working. I spend 3 mornings a week ice skating, and I've caught myself feeling like I have to justify it as something I do for my health, not just because I love it. It's almost like, because I love it, there has to be another, more pragmatic reason. How f'd up is that? At my rink, there is a club of older women who skate together one morning a week. The club's name? Hooky Club. It dates back to the 70s or 80s, when the women were "playing hooky" from their "wifely duties." (That's how it was explained to me.) I'm not even going to get into class issues; these were women who had the money to skate--an expensive sport--and weren't working for pay. So many layers questions about leisure and gender.

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I relate so much to the idea that you feel like you have to justify your activity, Rita. I hope you can begin to let that go!

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Nov 20, 2022Liked by Anne Helen Petersen

20 something me could have me could have saved herself much misery if I had figured out that golf in particular and sports in general were a reason that a particular guys I dated on and off from like 18 to 32 were bad together.

There was just so much golf (and associated trips) and so many televised sports events that were “not to be missed” that gave me this sense that something was off but that I was being too picky because after all men like sports.

It was the amount of designated and some what immovable time that all these took. It was this nagging feeling at 26 that if this guy and I got married I was going to spending a huge number of weekends being the primary parent. And I was going to spend an awful lot of vacations supervising kids at the amusement park/historic park/beach/pool around golf courses.

That he’d be game for a theater subscription, but that I’d be exchanging tickets around various and sundry can’t miss events. That there would be pouting because someone else had an important life event during some kind of sportsball playoff or during a Duke - UK game.

BTW sometime I’d love to read something on all the supposedly “picky” reasons to break-up with / not date someone that can actually be some kind of fundamental incompatibility.

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I appreciate these ideas conveyed here - feels so validating, most particularly the quality of leisure time. Two thoughts from my own home: I'm (a woman) married to a man and we have two kids, 3 and 10 months, so a lot of caregiving required.

One thought: I'm pretty fiercely protective of my main leisure activity, which is usually running, but am constantly calculating how much time and when is the best time to be gone (especially since I'm not a human who will willingly get up at 5am, lol), and as soon as I come home, it's back to stress and chaos. My husband does not have many leisure activities but this is mostly because he struggles to multitask or coordinate how/when to do what (which my brain is doing all the time, and apparently is a female-coded activity *rolls eyes*). So, he doesn't do things, and I can't coordinate it for him (much as I'd like to, actually).

Second: after spending time with my lesbian-coupled best friends with a kid and learning how they delegate tasks, just this week I decided to try similar and allot my husband and me two weekday evenings each where we get to do what we want without feeling guilty for not putting kids to bed. Because if we're both home, I'm still the one "in charge" and it's not fun. It went great! Sort of. I saw a friend one night and went to yoga the other, and when I came home, no, both kids were not asleep and things were still a mess.... but an older mom friend wisely told me that you have to just let them (husbands) struggle to figure it out themselves, and eventually, they'll get it. Luckily my guy's a good guy and I trust he will. And I really enjoyed my couple hours "off." :)

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My husband's leisure activities? Gaming online with his friends (who all also have kids). They block out every Wednesday night for three hours to game, and during that time, short of like, projectile vomiting from a kid, I'm on my own for parenting. Yes, the kids go to bed at 8:30 but everyone knows that if a kid doesn't want to go to sleep, they'll find reasons to be up, so what I hope is going to be an evening to myself often ends up being a terrorist negotiation with my 8yo who "heard something". Every other weekend on Saturday night is also a gaming date, and that's easily four hours because none of the participants have to get up in the morning. Then there's an hour of weights three days a week at home, that sometimes can happen during work, but is most likely after work, when the kids are home and need help with homework. I work a weird schedule so at least one of those weights afternoons is now on me. Meanwhile, I get up at 6am (or earlier) to go to the gym so I have time to get kids ready for school before I go to work. I don't think of the gym as a hobby-- it's brain/body care, but it's not fun.

I don't even know what my hobbies are, I'm 42. I read? I like driving around back roads and looking for local history? I'd like to hike more but without two kids acting like it's the Worst Thing Ever to walk three miles, so it requires childcare (and my husband would also like to hike more, so it's definitely a childcare thing). My husband and therapist keep telling me to find something creative, but yall, I am too damn tired to be creative beyond excessive doodling during zoom meetings.

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Nov 20, 2022Liked by Anne Helen Petersen

First, I very much appreciate the specific callout of evolutionary psychology here. It's all socialized, all the way down!

Every very time I see one of those leisure charts I think about cooking/baking and the weird space it occupies (for me, a partnered & childless person with a pretty good balance of labor at home) between leisure and household work. I usually enjoy doing it, I find it relaxing or creative or educational depending on the meal, I like to watch TV and read books/articles about it and improve my skills, I like to allocate extra money to it than it strictly requires to meet our needs. And none of that negates the fact that I gotta do it most days even when I don't feel like it. And the fact that while I get joy out of the process more often than not, my husband gets the benefit of the product just as much as I do. If I were filling out one of those charts, where would I put those hours? All household work? 50/50? Household work when it's a post-work pot of soup and leisure when it's a 4-hour marathon of reading lovely cookbooks and buying fancy things and preparing them with my favorite music on?

So many gray areas around things that are obligations but also enjoyable - family visits? gardening? practicing a language? exercising for one's health? the office bowling league? I love this idea of "1/2 leisure" not just for stuff that's contaminated by ongoing care duties but also contaminated by the fact that it's not 100% your choice to do it.

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My partner and I often talk about this (because we talking about the quality of our leisure a lot in our general work of trying to have more equal partnership) and he often points out that my gardening contributes to the 'value' of the home, and that he benefits from it as well (whereas I do not....benefit from golf, at least not that way).

I also think that exercise really complicates some of this discussion of what even IS leisure. Sometimes a run is a hobby, sometimes it can feel like obligatory body maintenance (particularly but not exclusively for women). Is Peloton a hobby? Is it leisure?

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I think what makes something a hobby or leisure is mindset. I run regularly for mental and physical health but signing up for a long race that I schedule long runs for (ie I put on the family calendar that I am not responsible for watching any of my 4 children) puts it into leisure category.

Similarly, I knit a lot. In the spaces between caregiving work, work-work, household work. But sometimes I close the door upstairs and knit, which signals to everyone that I’m in leisure mode... no one can interrupt me, even if I’m home. In my head, it’s really the latter that counts as true leisure time.

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I love how you're carving out that time so intentionally. That sounds important—for everyone. Thanks for sharing that. I'm learning a lot!

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I’ve had this question about yoga. My therapist claims it’s health and modeling good self care for body and mind. But when it comes to family scheduling it’s viewed more as my movable leisure activity.

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I feel exactly the same way re: cooking. I do 99.9% of the cooking in my household (it's just me and my husband, we both work from home and have no kids). My husband *can* cook and generally even enjoys doing so, but I *love* to cook, so it's almost entirely my domain. And it of course it involves way more than just the cooking itself - it involves researching and finding recipes and planning meals and keeping track of what we have in the fridge/pantry and doing the shopping and determining how to repurpose leftovers, etc. etc.

I like doing it, but it's also a lot, and it's an obligation, though kind of a weirdly self-imposed obligation, because I'm never *really* obligated. If I say I don't feel like cooking on a particular night, my husband will always offer to cook or suggest we get take-out or something - but then I feel guilty, like I'm falling down on the "job" (thanks, socialization!). And there's an added dimension in that my husband doesn't know his way around our kitchen like I do, so even if he does cook, I'm probably going to have to help out in some way. So I start to feel resentful about the whole cooking thing, even though it's ostensibly my own chosen "leisure" activity. It's just one that's impossible to entangle from all the other unpaid domestic work.

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Interesting ideas here.

Last year I knit almost everyone in my extended family hats. Three family members - all female - none particularly close to me - said thank you - along with a variation of this line - your husband is so great for giving you all this free time. It felt ridiculous - all my hats were knit while doing childcare (my kids spend a lot of time eating dinner!) or while watching tv with my husband when the kids are in bed.

At first I was annoyed but then I realized I'd come to similar incorrect conclusions in the past.

I think it's interesting that as woman some of us are so quick to judge/be jealous of one another.

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My family (which largely marginalizes me) all begged me to sew them masks in 2020. I did so, and sent everyone beautiful masks when that was all we could get and going to the post office was risky. While friends I'd sewn masks for sent thank-yous, not a single family member did. And yes, there's always the "so cute that you do that, I would but I'm so busy" put-down.

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I will never ever say that I'm "too busy" for anything. I'm making choices about how I spend my time, like most people who aren't working poor. We all prioritize certain things, and de-prioritize other things. It's like when people say they are "too busy" to watch television. I'm too busy watching television to do what they're doing!

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I'm sorry! That's hard and frustrating. I know the " so cute but...." Line so well. I'm always tempted to say something loaded about time management but I never have.

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That comment about your "free time" is ... something else. Of course, there's little doubt that the assumption says everything about their own complicated feelings about free time, who is deserving of it, etc. But, just... wow.

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I get so many “free time” comments about my knitting. (I wear a lot of my handknits.) It’s so frustrating to respond to, because it feels judgmental (like I’m being shamed for having time to make things), and, like…dude, I’m busy too, and I mostly knit while reading, or during tv-time in the evening, or during Zoom meetings or whatever! But I hate that my own reaction is to start feeling all defensive and getting wrapped up in valorizing busy-ness. (And if I’m being honest…yeah, I’m spending time knitting when I “should” be cleaning my house and it SHOWS, so I’ve got my own shame-spiral crap going on too.)

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It feels judgmental because it's nakedly judgmental! Very few people have a rightful claim to your time, and even they only have it in certain circumstances.

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Wow, imagine what they would have said if you’d spent all that time knitting something for yourself as opposed to a family member! ::eye roll::

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I wish I could decouple my difficulty with leisure time from my difficult childhood and how, at any moment, I might be called on to justify how I was spending my time. So much of what you said in this article about the gender divide resonated with me, since my husband feels very entitled to his own time in a way that I can't seem to manage—even now that the youngest of our 3 children is a senior in high school.

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FWIW--I found high school parenting pretty intensive. Or it just felt like more work, maybe because it wasn't as enjoyable for me as earlier years were. We have no more kids at home, but I still am amazed at how my partner just takes time for himself in ways that I don't. Part of it is that he's just a lot more mellow about household tasks than I am. Trying to figure out how much my ideas about what needs to be done are shaped by culture and how much by my true preferences. Feels like a lot to unravel.

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It is a lot to unravel, for sure. For me, it's not the household tasks since eventually they're done (usually by me). It's feeling entitled to spending my own free time however I like, which I've done too infrequently over the years, so I find myself fearing a stray comment that makes me super defensive. Like you said, it's a lot to unravel!

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Nov 20, 2022Liked by Anne Helen Petersen

As a horse person who largely gave up riding for six years after having a child, I also see many women who are serious about riding (even like, passionate at a hobby level, not competitive at any high level) choosing not to have kids. I suspect it’s because kids and this hobby are not really compatible, even after the obvious “give it up while you’re pregnant” period.

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Oooooooh this comment is for me! I am almost 33 and one of my bigger considerations in the having a kid decision (something I admittedly think about a lot) is that I have two horses, and riding is a large part of both my mental health and one of the reasons I’m able to really enjoy living where I do (rural eastern Oregon). I put a lot of time into my horses (something I also think about in terms of having a hobby that I compulsively feel I have to be good at, which is a whole ‘nother (relevant!) conversation, rather than just enjoy for the sake of it). I can’t imagine not having that time available that I currently devote to riding, and I often wonder how kids would fit into my current life.

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I totally get the "I have to be good at this". I went through a lot of therapy with an amazing horse-specialized therapist after some bad falls and bad training and postpartum anxiety. I have gotten to the point where I can confidently say "My horse is retired. She is not safe to ride. She bolts." and she is my backyard pet. This year I picked up riding again because we adopted a horse who is now 29 for my daughter and it turns out she actually is ambivalent about horses. The vet basically said he needed a job. So I take him out and sometimes we just walk for a half hour but when the footing is good we trot and canter too and that little gelding has rekindled my love of riding. Bless his little heart.

All to say, it's really hard in the first few years to keep it up as a hobby, and that's even with our horses living at home. A part of my deciding we are a one-child family is I finally have a little space for the horses again and don't want to go backwards.

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Wait, what?!? There’s another Culture Study reader (and horse person) in Eastern Oregon?!? Hello, neighbor!

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I was waiting for the other equestrians to be here in the comments! (And did you also get to "horseback riding" as a female dominated sport with equivalent time commitments as golf before AHP did and then laugh when that's where the piece ended up? I sure did.)

This article really made me think and reflect in a lot of different ways. I'm a lifelong equestrian, but haven't ridden regularly in almost 10 years when I had to retire my horse. Honestly, after a competitive Junior career (I did the BigEq to a regional level for those equestrians here) and some time being an overworked working student on a large farm, I was burnt out and needed a break. In the past 5 or so years, that's started to change and I've started missing riding with a piece of my heart that I thought was gone. (I still get barn time with my retired guy, so that's been a nice consistency.)

But I've held back from getting back into the saddle (literally) for one main reason - we've been trying to have children. Apart from the physical pieces as Mary mentioned above, I'm more cautious to return because of the time and money commitments. The idea that I could find a way to fit riding around caring for young children is hard to fathom in my mind. And the idea that I would dedicate so much money to a hobby that only benefits me is also hard to fathom. The only examples I had of parenting around time at the barn growing up were either SAHMs or Professional Trainers, neither of which I would be. Never mind the emotional part of the fact that I've been in this "TTC limbo" for 4 years due to various other things and therefore could've had 4 years of doing a hobby I really enjoyed... I find that I'm self-limiting for a future set up that is incredibly constrained due to gendered expectations I've already placed on myself as a future mother.

Like always, I commend AHP for a great piece that really got me reflecting on what was holding me back and how to address that going forward.

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Nov 20, 2022Liked by Anne Helen Petersen

Single woman, mid-forties, unmarried, childless, with recreational activities ranging from the solitary and non-communal to the team (off the top of my head: quilting, gardening, cooking, reading, writing, hockey, brunching). And my observed anecdata from my life compared with the lives of my married/family friends absolutely, unequivocally lines up with the research. How many times have I gone away on vacation with women from my church and heard "when I get home, I'll have to do all the things that weren't done this weekend"? How many times have I been away for a sewing day (10-4, but nobody stays for the entire day) with my "young quilters' group" of thirty-fortysomethings only to hear someone's phone ring and a whole conversation ensue about Where Is The Childers' Socks, I Can't Find Them? I recall unhampered weekends away with female friends...who were all childless, or sewing days with my "older quilters' group" of sixty-seventysomething ladies whose children grown beyond needing instruction or management. But for women with families, their leisure time is eked out, painfully mined - and even then, the precious mingled with the everyday - and half the emotions of that time away is guilt at being away, while the other half is worry about having to come home and deal with all the things that slipped and fell while they were gone... It makes me want to scream.

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I moved across the country when I was 41 and single, and it was hard to make similarly aged friends because almost everyone was in the thick of the raising kids years. The people I did develop more of a connection with were mostly older, didn't have kids, or had high school aged kids AND a lower-intensity style of parenting.

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Yes! Single-and-childless in the 30s and 40s makes it so difficult to form friendships among women. Age peers don't have time for hobbies that you could spend together (and the time is frequently interrupted or cut short my family needs), and you don't have the commonality of children that creates friends in mothers' groups and suchlike. I moved (locally) when I was 38, and basically lost my church friends who were all younger and married-and-childless but soon joined the married-with-children cohort. The church friends I picked up were all 5-10 years older than me. Interestingly, the 'special interest' friends who I spent time with in my 20s and 30s are still hanging on (by a thread in some cases, but still), and some have made overtures now that the 'young children' stage is easing back.

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fantastic piece. The quality of leisure is a huge dilemma in modern families. The Onion article above nails it. And the kids often pressure Mom into coordinating their leisure. The ‘involved’ parent trend has also contributed to this. My mother happily ignored the children and read books all summer long. It was normal in the 1970s. I’ll be writing about how older Americans define fun very differently than younger folks and how this life stage difference actually reveals a major historical decline in the quality of older people’s social networks.

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