One thing we are passionate about as a family is slowing down.
We live in a word that celebrates a full calendar. If you ask anyone these days how they’re doing, they will probably something like “Busy, but what can you do?” and shrug away the question. This answer is almost a humblebrag – a way to share how important you are.
But being hyper-busy doesn’t necessarily mean we’re actually getting anything done. If fact, the opposite can be true. If we are too burdened with tasks, appointments, and activities, we are actually less productive. And if we are drowning in busyness, chances are we are probably missing the things that are most important. Here are 5 Ways Our Family Combats Busyness:
When we were in a season of perpetual busyness, it impacted our family in some serious ways. My husband and I were snippy with each other and impatient with our kids. We were missing important things because we would forget to communicate. Worst of all, we felt totally disconnected – more like roommates than family. Eventually, we sat down together and took stock of our calendar. It was filled to the brim with unnecessary things.
We radically changed our calendar to create space in our lives by starting with the bare essentials. Have you heard of Maria Kondo’s book on decluttering? Instead of telling you what to get rid of, she forever changed organization by saying you should only keep the things that ‘spark joy’ in your life. That’s good advice for physically decluttering your home, but it also great advice for your schedule. After we had our essentials on the calendar, we adopted the same principle. We only added in extra things that brought us joy. Everything else was gone! It was revolutionary.
Being busy is convenient. Rushing from one place to the next doesn’t afford a lot of time to be invested in people’s lives. If we only see each other for a few moments here and there, our surface level friendships never have to dive down into messy reality.
When I’m feeling busy and disconnected, I choose to take stock of my relationships. I write down my 5 most important relationships and ask myself a few questions. When’s the last time I had a really great conversation with my sister? When’s the last time my husband and I went out on a date? Have we had a family dinner this week? If these relationships are getting lost in the shuffle, it’s time to reprioritize. I will cancel non-essential commitments to make room for real connections.
When we start to get overly busy, we can feel it in our bodies – stomachaches, headaches, insomnia. One way I relieve this stress and add space into my life is by exercising. If I can go on a 30 minute run (or walk depending on my stamina and the Texas heat), it clears my head and gives me a boost of endorphins. In fact, this is the first thing my husband suggests when he senses my anxiety starting to rise.
Being busy isn’t always our own doing, often it’s just because we do things without thinking about who we’re doing them for or why we’re doing them. Sometimes I will impulsively say “yes” to things that honestly don’t matter to me at all. Then when it comes time to follow through, I dread every minute of it. These busywork tasks drain my energy and creativity.
Instead, I choose to be intentional about setting aside time for the things that matter to me and creating space in my life, which means I must often say “no” gracefully.
If we find ourselves in a busy period, a big step to slowing down is carving out time to regroup. We might take a whole Saturday to work on a hobby or go on an adventure as a family. We might need a whole weekend to get away and refocus. Sometimes it’s even as simple as leaving the TV off after the kids go to bed and checking in with each other (probably over ice cream).
Honestly, we aren’t going to get to the end of our life and remember that meeting we went to.
We are going to remember playing board games at the kitchen table, talking on the screened-in porch, and that stomachache that you get from laughing too hard.
There will always be more activities, events, and projects. Slowing down is a choice to make living our lives a priority. We are working hard on things that matter to us and playing even harder. We are crafting a life that we love, that our kids will want to come back to.
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