What do you benefit if you gain the whole world and lose your soul? – Mark 8:36
I’ve talked before about the need for less clutter in my house – and how breaking up with toys gave both me and my children our time back.
Just like with the clutter in my house, I must be vigilant about how busy my life gets. If I’m not careful, my days can become an endless list of To-Do’s. I rush from one activity to the next and then fall on a heap at the end of the night in exhaustion and wonder: what did I spend my life doing today?
It’s a great problem to have, I know that. I have so many things I can be doing that sometimes I forget to ask the question: Just because I can do something – does it mean that I should?
In the pursuit of happiness, does every schedule need to be bursting at the seams with activity? Can my kids be just as happy and well-adjusted if they miss out on soccer and Girl Scouts and instead only do swim team and piano? I think so.
I realize this is a first class problem. I get it, I do. But still – a person can drive oneself crazy running from every activity to the next simply because of the fear of missing out (FOMO). It’s amazing what FOMO can compel a person to do. 😉
One of the (many) reasons I chose to homeschool this year was because back when Paprika went to public school, I found that ALL I did all day was drive Paprika around from one activity to the next. I rushed to get her to school, rushed everyone out of the house to pick her up. Her after school hours were spent at this or that enrichment activity. Then at night, it was homework, dinner, and bed! When did I ever get to really see her? I know not everyone can or even wants to homeschool – that’s just my life I’m talking about.
I felt like I was racing furiously behind the scenes to make sure everyone had everything they needed at all times. I was in a frenzied rush, making myself crazy just so that my kids could have a calm, idyllic life. Well…if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. 😉
I craved margin and downtime. I wanted to encourage moments of spontaneity with my kids. I thought about my days and how I wanted to feel at the end of each day. What end did it serve, all this busyness?
Like everyone else, I have just 24 hours in a day. I want the hours of my days to be spent connecting with the people I love. I want to make sure that first things truly are put first.
Clearing out space in my life has been a process. It’s been intentional. I used to feel bad saying “No” to this or that activity. But here’s what I know now: You have to move things out of your life that you don’t want before new things you DO want can enter.
When our lives were so scheduled, I couldn’t chase butterflies with my girls at the park. We couldn’t make pizza from scratch together just for the fun of it. We couldn’t get out the paints and spend the afternoon making messes – I mean, art! We were too busy.
So, with a cleared life, I am able to look at what I really want to do. And I’m glad for it, because this parenting gig is going by fast. Paprika was born just a day ago, and now she’s seven.
I don’t want the memory of my kids’ childhoods to be me standing over my kids like a Drill Sargeant – barking orders about finishing worksheets. I want them to remember how we made homemade ice cream and savored every last bite. I want them to remember how we stayed up half the night reading books under the covers with a flashlight.
I have to be careful – really, because the urge to do more always creeps in if I’m not paying attention. It’s like clutter. I think to myself: Didn’t I JUST clear off my schedule and now look, I’m busy for the next month. Kind of like when I clear off my counter and the next day I find a pile of detritus (aka “stuff”).
When I get too busy, I forget things that matter. I forget to look my kids in the eyes when they’re speaking to me. I don’t have time to help out my neighbor. I miss my friend’s birthday lunch. I get grumpy and irritable. It’s no way to live a life – not a good life, anyway.
I know – there is ideal life, and there is real life. There are things that have to be done and bills to pay. There are things that are out of my control that I have to take care of to keep the household running. Grown up things. 😉 But beyond that, in all the rest of the moments of the day, I want to focus on the things that matter. Everything else can wait. We have parks to visit and pictures to paint. And tonight, three little girls who can’t wait to read Little House in the Big Woods.
How do you create space in your life? Do you feel pressured by the busyness of modern life? Tell me in the comments!
To read more posts in this Positive Parenting series, find me here.