Your day is filled to overcapacity. Meetings, errands, appointments and to-do lists fill each moment. We train our kids to do the same. We actually feel like we have wasted time if our day wasn’t jam-packed and filled to brim. One more thing to do. One more call to make. One more place to see. Run, don’t walk. Sprint – go faster. If this is you, you and your family are overscheduled and way too busy.
What if you took a day off?
Okay, maybe a day is too much – we have to ease into this. What if you took an hour off? Still too much? Okay, how about 10 minutes? Fine, then just one minute. Use the minute to stop and breathe. See, you have joined life. In this moment, in this breath, is where life is happening. If you could just show up here for a minute, you would see the world from a new perspective. You can’t see it and really be part of it if you are overscheduled and way too busy.
See, when you are running through life (and me too), you miss most of it. You rush from thing to thing and miss everything in between.
I caught myself on my way to the gym the other morning racing against nothing. My gym is on the top floor of a local hospital, so I have to walk through the lobby and several of the long hallways to the elevators (yes, I should take the stairs) to go to the fitness center. Everyone I meet is walking reasonably. And then there was me, powerwalking like I was trying out for an Olympic team. I wasn’t training – I was just rushing – like I always do. Autopilot engaged. But when I noticed it, I slowed down and was able to actually greet the people I was sharing hallway space with; something I hadn’t done when I was moving like I was being chased.
The kids are busy back at school
With school comes band, sports, dance, clubs, scouts, community service – and on and on. We think that for our kids to have a great life (and we think the same for ourselves), it has to be a busy life. We enroll, register and sign up our kids for all sorts of things. Their busyness becomes our busyness as we now drive them to their activities, host parent support events, buy refreshments, host parties – and at the end of the day we fall into bed – exhausted. They are irritable and overwhelmed. So are we. It doesn’t seem either like a great life or a recipe for household bliss.
I am not advocating a life of sloth. But why are the options either too busy or epically lazy? What if between these two is intentional action – of intentional and managed busyness? What if we became aware of our being too busy and chose to be busy in a healthy way, not to fill our days to a point of breaking. What if in our days we started to value time to dream, invent, connect, socialize, think, meditate, create and just be? Imagine if we said to our kids, “Go to your room and just be.” We would first freak them out and then the white trucks would come and take us away. Or, we may find a happier and saner life.
Be busy with a purpose
In my big Italian family (6 kids), at the start of each school year, my parents said we each could choose one activity. They said to review the things that engaged and inspired us and choose one. Not two, not five. Partly they knew that they couldn’t manage to get us to 12 or 15 events a week with our clan of kids. They also knew that for learning to stick, our brains needed time to just be – to try out and dwell on what we have learned – to think, dream, invent, imagine and show up to whatever is going on in this moment.
Are you busy with a purpose or overscheduled, stressed out and way to busy? One gets things done and helps you have a great life, the other just tires you out. Choose wisely. Don’t let your world push you faster and faster. Commit to enjoying life, not racing to your death. Both are choices. Our kids desperately need help with these choices.