Make time for your­self and fam­ily

We put our re­la­tion­ships and health at risk when we con­tin­u­ally work long hours, writes

Hauraki Herald - - GARDENING -

Un­less you’re a farmer who gets up at the crack of dawn or a par­ent whose job is (let’s be hon­est) never over, your life prob­a­bly re­volves around the eight-hour work­ing day.

But for those of us who think even that’s too long to be at work, cast your mind back 170-odd years to an age when 14-hour days, six days a week, weren’t un­com­mon, and un­pleas­ant, even dan­ger­ous work­ing con­di­tions were the norm.

We have a hard-work­ing car­pen­ter called Sa­muel Par­nell to thank for bet­ter­ing work­ing con­di­tions in New Zealand.

Hav­ing lived and worked in Lon­don for many years, Par­nell had seen first-hand what ex­treme hours and work­ing con­di­tions could do to a per­son.

Af­ter em­i­grat­ing to Welling­ton in 1840, Par­nell was asked to carry out a build­ing project. He agreed, on the con­di­tion that he not work more than eight hours a day.

His boss wasn’t happy, but be­cause there was such a short­age of skilled trades­men in Welling­ton at the time, he didn’t have much op­tion.

From there, Par­nell gath­ered other car­pen­ters in the town to­gether, and in October 1840 a work­ers’ meet­ing on Lambton Quay agreed to adopt an eighthour work­ing day.

The rest of the country had to wait 50 years be­fore Labour Day was of­fi­cially cel­e­brated for the first time. In 1900 it be­came a pub­lic hol­i­day, and in 1910 the hol­i­day was ‘‘Mon­dayised’’, giv­ing us the Labour Day long week­end we all know and love.

Back then, the eight-hour day move­ment ad­vo­cated eight hours for work, eight hours for re­cre­ation and eight hours for rest, an ideal we still hang our hol­i­days, blob in front of the telly, sleep – all ac­tiv­i­ties that are es­sen­tial for our well­be­ing.

The longer we spend at the of­fice, the more likely we are to get sick and burn out. We might earn more money, but we lose the pos­i­tive ef­fects of re­la­tion­ship and rest too.

So what can you do this Labour Day to make Par­nell’s con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety worth it? Un­plug your lap­top, switch off your phone, and put your­self first.

Whether it’s head­ing out of town for a mini-break, tak­ing a hike through your favourite for­est, head­ing to the beach or binge-watch­ing Grey’s Anatomy, how­ever you choose to re­lax is to­tally up to you.

Spend time with the peo­ple you love, es­pe­cially if you do work long hours, or take the op­por­tu­nity to meet peo­ple on your street by invit­ing them over for a Monday evening bar­be­cue via Neigh­bourly. Be­cause there’s more to life than work, and there’s more to work than count­less hours slav­ing away at a desk.


Spend time with the peo­ple you love, es­pe­cially if you spend hours at the of­fice.

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