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Play Can Be Harder Than Work

Posted January 15, 2019 • Change • by Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, Ph.D.

By the time we hit mid-life, working long, hard hours can become so habitual, so ingrained in our daily routines, that it actually becomes more challenging to prioritize time to rest and have fun than to find time to work.

I see this work ethic forming early in my daughter, who is currently in 5th grade. She has become intent on getting her homework done before anything else, even if that means forgoing other more fun activities. She gets stressed if she can’t finish her homework–even if she’s already way ahead of schedule– because of a competing family or extracurricular commitment.

Now, I recognize that the apple doesn’t often fall far from the tree; my husband and I are both driven professionally, and my daughter has very likely learned her work habits from us.

I also realize that many parents struggle with the opposite issue: children who are unwilling or unable to complete their homework on their own, which is its own parenting challenge.

However, this doesn’t minimize the challenge before us. Watching this work ethic form in my daughter has been enlightening for me. It reminds me that in addition to learning how to work hard to achieve a goal, an equally valuable life skill is to learn how to prioritize play and rest alongside hard work.

In an article in Outside Magazine, time management expert Laura Vanderkam provides some helpful tips for those “Type A” personalities who find it easier to work than to carve out time for play.

Enjoy!

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