Take Time for Projects and Keep a New Family Tradition

Gretchen Rubin
January 4, 2014

Many of my resolutions are meant to push me to wander, play, experiment, and appreciate. For example, the resolution to take time for projects reminds me to undertake big family projects, like making homemade books or putting up holiday decorations. Keep a new family tradition reminds me to look out for new traditions (excuse the oxymoron) that can add to the richness of family life.

These resolutions are hard for me to keep, even though I know they make me happier, because I always have to fight the urge to work. Instead of using the time in these ways, I want to work, or if I'm not working, I want to read in bed. Which sometimes is work, and sometimes is play.

I was thinking about this tension recently, because a friend of mine told me about a wonderful tradition she started with her daughter.

Her new family tradition is "New York Wednesday": every Wednesday afternoon, she picks up her ten-year-old from school at 3:15 for some kind of New York City adventure. They take turns picking the activity—my friend recently chose a visit to a pretzel-making factory; her daughter, the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition at the Whitney. They have to be home by 5:30 for homework and dinner.

I love this idea, and I want to copy it—what a wonderful way to have some special time with my daughter. But I also want to work. Never enough time to work! I want the time to think and to write, or at least answer some emails. I'm always itching to be reunited with my computer.

I know, though, that looking back at this time, years from now, those hours will be far more memorable and meaningful if I spend them on an adventure with my daughter than if I spend them at work.

I'm very lucky, because my work is flexible enough that I can take that time, if I decide I want to. The trick is to realize that although the siren call of my work feels more pressing, in the end, I'll be happier if I use that time in a different way.

So I'm going to do it—set aside an afternoon for an adventure with my daughter. Where will we choose to go? I'm a huge Carl Jung fan and have been wanting to see the Red Book. That's a thought. What will my daughter pick? Maybe Madame Tussauds?

I know myself. I'll need to write that adventure into my calendar with indelible pen, and I'll have to fight with myself not to let work creep into that time. This resolution is getting added to my Resolutions Chart.

You can read the rest of this article and so much more at Gretchen's website, The Happiness Project.

Originally published in 2010. 

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