Wasting time is something we all need to do now and then. Continually working at maximum productivity isn't good for machines, let alone humans. Parents are notorious for pushing themselves to the edge and over keeping too busy. When I work too hard for too long, the quality of my work suffers (I'm also freakishly grouchy). Having said that, there are more and less healthy ways to waste time. Here are some not-so-great ones, with better alternatives.
* Internet games: Sitting and staring at computer is hard on the eyes, the back, the rear end and the legs. It's also easy to get so sucked into a game (especially one of those virtual reality ones) and neglect other family responsibilities. I don't feel relaxed after gaming--I feel angry with myself for getting hooked. Gaming is hard on relationships. It isolates gamers from friends and family.
* Lounging outdoors (better): When I need to mentally kick back and relax, I find sitting outside (or on the porch looking outside if the weather is foul) much healthier down time. When the kids were little, our favorite time-waster was rocking and cuddling. Now that we're older we chat and reconnect.
* "Windows" shopping: This is my name for interest browse-shopping. I don't know about you, but I don't find it relaxing. It reminds me of all the things I don't have or didn't know I could have. After a spate of "windows shopping," I find myself very dissatisfied with my life. I feel greedy and deprived at the same time. I'm touchy with the kids and I pick at my spouse about why we don't have all the things I didn't know I needed but now desperately want. I also end up buying things I don't need.
* Idea-gathering walks and bike rides (better): When I take the kids for walks, I look for neat home design ideas along the way. I still sometimes feel that dissatisfaction when I see things I wish I had, but at least I'm outdoors getting fresh air and not holed up at the computer. It also helps to see what items look like in-real-life, not just on the showroom floor.
* Social networks and texting: Facebook is my nemesis. I don't have as much problem with Twitter as I don't find it as interactive. It's not that interaction is bad, but it seems very superficial and casual online or via cellphone. It doesn't set a very good example for my kids if nag them for texting or chatting on Facebook, but then do it myself. Spending too much time online harms relationships and creates jealousy, too.
* Face-to-face (better): Before we had internet, phone conversations were the big parenting time-waster. Phone conversations are better than digital interaction because their slightly more personal, but the best interaction is face-to-face. This teaches kids better communication skills, too.
As parents, we don't stop wasting time. We just have to find time-wasters that help rather than hurt.