The Choice of a Busy Life

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I like to think I’m a laid-back person. I know you can’t always get it done the way you want, and I’m OK with shrugging some of the mess away, or skipping a social gathering, or letting that third basket of laundry wait. But then there are those days that you just feel like you have to get it done, and there isn’t enough time, and thus exasperated because I’m not superwoman with super powers. Quality time becomes squashed time because the rush to get the next thing done takes away from enjoying the moment your in. In addition to the activities for the family and household chores, the work to-do list looms and weekends just aren’t long enough. 

Then a friend sent me this blog on The New York Times: “I Refuse to be Busy.” that lends a little needed perspective on being busy. The author, a mom of four who works outside the home, points out that it has almost become the social norm to answer the friendly “How are you?” with “I’m busy.” It’s like we brainwash ourselves to believe that if we aren’t busy, something is wrong.

I often think back to what life was like for my parents when they were children and their parents. My grandparents all worked outside the home and had bustling households of children, but they weren’t trying to overachieve and one-up the mom next door with a bigger birthday party, nor did my parents participate in mulitple extracurricular activities. It was a different time, but it was a slower time and that time at home wasn’t muddled with messages about all the things you could or should be doing.

Times have changed and there are a lot more options for ways to go, do and play as a family, but the writer of the NY Times blog KJ Dell’Antonia reminded me in her blog that these things are choices! That’s the thing folks, we make the choices. Some things are chosen for us … work to pay the bills, school schedules and homework, but a lot of things are choices and we are in control of those things. She also points out that our children are learning each step of the way how to structure their future lives based on how we as parents run ours. It all comes down to quality, not quanity, of things you can be involved in. 

With that in mind, when her son ask her if she thought he should play lacrosse this spring, she replied with this: “Do you love lacrosse? Not like hockey, he said. It’s O.K. It’s fun. I asked him: Lacrosse or hanging out with your best friend all afternoon? Lacrosse or helping to build the fence around the garden? Lacrosse or hiking out back and watching the waterfall finally melt? Lacrosse or – let’s be honest – re-reading Harry Potter for the 10th time, and lying on your back on the floor throwing a ball in the air and daydreaming? You can play lacrosse. But if you do, that’s three afternoons a week plus weekends, so be sure lacrosse is really what you want to do with that time … It wasn’t …”

So as you start your week, take a deep breath and really think about the things you are doing. Are they really how you want to spend your time? Leave the to-do list in your head for a moment and think about what you choose to do today, and tomorrow. Are they things you have planned, things that leave you feeling good or exhausted? For me, I’m going to choose to really enjoy the smallest moments with my child and all his 100+ questions a day because I can’t get that moment back, and all the other stuff can wait a minute.