Make time for yourself and family
We put our relationships and health at risk when we continually work long hours, writes
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.