When my great-grandmother, Josephine would give her granddaughters money for their birthdays, she’d hand over the crisp bills with an appeal: “Don’t spend it on groceries.”
I’ve always loved this. She didn’t tell them to save it for a rainy day or to spend it wisely. Instead, she told them not to fritter away the gift on some boring day to day essentials like bread and toilet paper. In other words ...go on, treat yo’self. She not only gave the girls permission to spend it on something fun, something beautiful, something pleasurable, something unnecessary, she actually required them to.
It struck me the other day that we can apply this same advice to the gift of time and how we spend it.
When you find yourself with an hour of free time, in a quiet house without appointments, plans or urgent to-dos….how do you spend it? Doing something practical and necessary? Clearing your inbox? Folding laundry? Catching up on text messages? Cleaning out the fridge? Re-organising your kid's sock drawer?
If so, let me issue you with an invitation. When you next find yourself with the gift of some time to yourself, don’t spend it on groceries.
Instead, treat yo’self. Do something indulgent. Something beautiful. Something that has nothing to do with practicality or necessity. Take a bath in the afternoon. Page through a book of poetry. Get that old palette of paints out. Make a cup of tea and call your best friend. Get back in bed and eat a chocolate croissant. Watch reruns of Sex and The City in your undies. Play. Relax. Enjoy. Truly treat yourself.
What’s amazing about this approach is that when you give yourself permission to be free from practical concerns and responsibilities and instead, make pleasure the priority, it renews you.
It liberates you from the grind of the mundane and gives you a lift. It’s an investment in joy. And that, my friend, pays dividends that productivity (AKA a tidy sock drawer) never will.