Let’s face it. Our lives are busy. There is always something or someone vying for our attention and focus. Work, home, school, chores, errands, play groups, sports teams, lessons, rehearsals, church, social media, emails, family, friends and a million other things cloud our daily lives. We try to take one day at a time and try our best not to overschedule ourselves and our family. I recently saw this quote and it stopped me dead in my over-scheduled tracks:
“Stop the glorification of busy.”
Note that it doesn’t say to stop being busy. Our lives are going to be filled with whatever we choose: including breaks of relaxation and down time. As humans we are wired to work, we are wired to continue learning and growing.
However, I believe that it is incredibly easy for us to keep cramming items into our schedule in an attempt to be everything to everyone all of the time. Need a volunteer? Sure. Can you work that extra shift? Yes. Can you cram just one more thing into this overfilled day? No problem.
There was a time as a stay-at-home mom that I would try to fill my planner with as much stuff as I could because I wanted to keep myself busy. In an effort to want to convince myself that I was still needed by society I quickly heightened my stress level which made me under perform in everything that was keeping me so busy. I have to say that after years of extending my young family too far and stretching our sanity just to attend one-more-thing I had had enough.
Because there is no glory in being busy.
Choosing to seek out busyness is different from the natural ebb and flow of a growing family. You have a choice to allow a child to be involved in every activity under the sun and then multiplying that by the number of children you have. Wanting the best for our children and giving them a wide range of experiences in life usually ends with everyone being stressed out, exhausted and unhappy.
As parenthood continues it grows into this beautiful and mature part of our lives that knows when to say yes and when to say no to activities. It knows what is best for your child and that rest and “down time” is a much needed requirement of childhood. It quietly considers the family schedule and knows that refusing to succumb to the pressures of life will only enhance the happiness and satisfaction of the family. Learning to say no is an art form. As a young mom I would worry that I would be asked why I couldn’t attend something after saying no. Then, I realized that the less you say the better. “We have plans” or “We are unable to make it” are perfectly fine responses. Yes, your plans may be that you are doing absolutely nothing but no one needs to know that.
There was a time when I would have to look ahead at the week and make myself block off at least two week nights with a big red “X” which meant that I couldn’t plan anything for that time slot. The idea that we have to schedule our off time may seem silly, but it was so important for my family and my internal desire to be busy. And you know what? Those nights with the big red marker on the schedule would turn into beautiful and unplanned time with my littles: cloud watching, blowing bubbles, or impromptu kitchen dance parties.
I have found that my family is physically and spiritually happier and healthier when I say no to activities on weeknights. Some items can’t be helped: like when your child is playing a sport and practices and game schedules come into play. Although I do still consider this to be a form of busy, there is an understanding that sports are for short seasons of time. Life will not always look the way it does in the middle of sports season and the end of a season always brings a huge sigh of relief.
And let’s not forget that we aren’t only talking about outside activities here. Honey-do lists and home projects can quickly muddle up the family schedule and usually bring a countless amount of exhaustion. Just because you are home doesn’t always mean that you aren’t busy. There is a lot to be said for an absolutely “free” night for a family. No schedules. No commitments. No plans. In my household I look forward to having a coveted night where there is nothing fighting for my attention. It is a basic human luxury from which many are depriving themselves and their own families.
So, can we all just stop it? Let’s stop the glorification of busy.
We’re testing this column from Kristina Phelan, a former Spokane-area resident. Check out her website at www.mamabearmoxie.com. To let us know what you think, email Features editor Carolyn Lamberson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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