Let me start by saying that I think humans are so wonderfully creative. Our minds and bodies and sense are capable of experiencing so much and we’re always thinking of ways to grow and new things to do! That’s amazing!
But I know from first hand experience just how easy it is to say yes to doing way to many of those good and interesting things. Fun sports, homeschool co-ops and activities, dance class, music lessons, mommy and me dates, eating out at restaurants, and all the church activities.
These are all potentially good and enriching things, and I’ll be sure to say that I very much believe that every family should make their own decision on what they participate in. This isn’t going to be a list of things you should or shouldn’t do!
We are creatures constrained by time…
We all the have the same amount of time enthuse world, and we all have thing that are very important to us. That’s why it’s essential to me to step back from the whirlwind of life for a moment and look at the big picture of where and how I want to spend the time that is given to me.
One quick note here, the purpose of my writing is not to judge anyone who chooses to participate in any these activities I mention, but rather to express my own experience participating in what I call “The Busyness Culture.” I write because I expect there are others (especially mothers) out there wondering if all this “doing” is really worth it. Perhaps this will inspire you!
There have been years when our family is doing lots of church activities, play dates, going grocery shopping almost every day, socializing and shopping regularly. I have just one word to describe myself at that pace of my life: frazzled.
Many kind and well meaning people patted me on the back and said things like “Of course you’re frazzled (i.e. a chubby hot mess), you have so much going on. It’s just a season that all moms go through.”
Now, I do appreciate the spirit of encouragement behind these words. It did indeed feel comforting to know that I wasn’t alone.
But there came a time, after my third baby was born, when I took a step back and looked at it all.
The crowded schedule, the messy cluttered house, the very real fact that I didn’t have two seconds to take care of myself.
I decided that this wasn’t the way I wanted to live, and I was going to figure out how to slow down and enjoy my life now! I just couldn’t be content with always waiting for some point ambiguous point in the future when it would all be different.
This won’t be popular…
I’m gonna make a bold statement here and say that prioritizing home life is definitely not the popular move in today’s culture, even among good people with whom I am like-minded is very important ways.
We probably have all heard the advice “slow down and prioritize what’s important.” Good advice to be sure, but man, oh, man the busyness culture we live in is pervasive and persistent, isn’t it?
It seemed that as soon as I decided to release “all the activities” and live a quiet life at home, the pressure to go back to being busy was on. I was turning down invitations for ballet classes and sports leagues and church groups, my husband and I didn’t have a regular date night (shock!) and I was condensing my grocery shopping to just once a week. I completely stopped thrifting, a favorite hobby.
Two things happened right away:
- I had the time to seriously declutter and simplified my home. This was truly life-changing and you can read more about it here. I have the mental, emotional and physical space todo things that are important to me because I’m not buying an managing stuff all the time.
- My heart grew to love being a keeper of my home and family, and I truly found my purpose.
Time for the things I love…
I have always loved good food, but the joy of cooking and baking is now something that I can enjoy to the fullest because I have time to make food from scratch and improve my skills.
I have always loved being around my children, but now I have the time to let our personal relationships develop and blossom without the rush and bustle that had surrounded our family.
I hadn’t realized how much time was being wasted getting ready to go to this or that thing, then finally getting there, then have to load up and come back and take time to recover. No more!
I have always wanted to raise my children at home and provide a home education, and now I can do that without feeling stressed and rushed, but with steadiness and diligence.
I had alway wanted to be a good wife and have a strong and open relationship with my husband. Removing all the extra commitments gave us the energy to be there for each other at the end of the day, and our friendship grew.
I’m an artist, and creative work feeds my soul. Now I can set aside time every week that is dedicated to creative expressions through arts and crafts. I love this.
Lastly, I have time to read and blog. These things stretch me and mature me and fill me up with thoughts and notions of a higher order.
With a cluttered mind and a cluttered house and a cluttered schedule, I felt I was floundering to keep life under control, and just barely getting through each day. I was exhausted about 100% of the time, and I just didn’t have the brain power to invest time into my personal growth. Now I prioritize it.
I do still have a “full” life…
Don’t get me wrong, my life is still full and yep, it’s a whole lotta hard work.
“Man works from dawn till set of sun, but women’s work is never done.”
Ha! Ain’t that the truth, baby! But now I’m doing the work that I love and that nourishes my soul and my family relationships. I protect our precious time together now more than ever!
We’ll never be the family that has the sports star child, but we do run around outside and play our hearts out.
We won’t be traveling for music competitions and recitals, but we sing and dance and play and groove and live it up to good music everyday at home.
Though we do practice hospitality, we do so mainly in our own home and the homes of close friends. We’ll never be popular socialites, but I’m pretty popular with my kids and husband!
We won’t be eating out at awesome restaurants very often or grabbing meals on the go, but thrice a day I’ll be serving up some hearty homemade goodness and enjoying it around the table and over good conversation.
And most importantly, my children have me. A mother who strives to be present and thoughtful, who cares carefully for their physical and emotional needs, and who lives life right along side them. A mother who is with them in heart and deed and proximity!
What if you want to do lots of activities?
To the family that chooses to participate “all the things”, I want you to know that I don’t think that’s bad. I don’t look down my nose at friends who choose a busy life. But I do want to point out one thing…it’s often just that, a choice.
To the mother who feels her energy is siphoned away by scrambling hither and thither, and it seems like the lions share of her very life is portion out to this and that activity, and the notion of investing in herself or her marriage seems like an unattainable luxury…
Let me just remind you that “all the things” need not be done. You can reduce them, you can eliminate them. You can do this for a short time to recalibrate and re-prioritize, or you can permanently release them.
We can’t control everything (my kids were very little at this time of my life so I could make decisions more easily) but we can make efforts reduce your commitments if we want to, if we feel we need to.
Some things that are good may be have to let go in order to honor the things that are better.
The busyness culture will tell us that it’s all necessary and that our family will be missing out if we don’t fill up our life to the max. I’m here to tell you that that’s just not true.
Tell me what’s important to you…
What is it that you want to prioritize in your life? I don’t mean just your day to day, or your week to week, but the whole of your life. How is it that you wish you were spending your days. Do you wish you had more time to create a cozy home? Do you wish you had more time to cook and bake? To sew and craft? To take nature walks with your children. To read? To nap? To study the scriptures? To have a friend over for dinner? What would you do with your time if you had it?
If you are like me, and you feel that the busyness culture has enveloped you, you may be ready, as I was, to step away. This is my encouragement to you: don’t be afraid to make a change. You may already know it’s necessary, or you may have never thought about it before.
Things likely won’t all be immediately perfect and aligned to your ideals, but if you want them to change ever, the time to consider your intentions is right now.
Yep, we’ll get resistance from a lot of different sources and angles. We must be discerning in what feedback we absorb. Some of it will be good and helpful, and some of it will certainly not be.
I’m often asked how in the world I have time to homeschool, cook, clean, craft, garden, blog and still be a sane person. Well, my life would still probably seems insane to some, and to other outsiders looking in, it may seems like I just stay at home and sit on my bottom all day, and “never do anything to contribute to society”.
The thing is, I’ve been able to let go of worrying about the perception of others. My husband and I are raising our family how we feel is right for us, and that’s all! ! What a relief not to live under the expectations of The Busyness Culture and it’s advocates.
Of course, our schedules and commitments will always need to be adjusted as we go along. Different seasons of life will hold different activities and we may shift the way we prioritize our daily time.
But one thing that will not change is my vigilance to maintain a peaceful life at home. It is of utmost importance to me that our family has time together, to grow, to encourage, and to live.
Lay it on thick…
So I’ll wrap this up with a Lord of the Rings reference, (cause no sense in denying my fan status now…) Do you remember when Bilbo Baggins says he feels so thin “like butter spread over to much bread.” I know that feeling. And I don’t want to live as miserly butter spreader. Proverbially and actually, I’ll slather it on thick, and live it up with the good things.
My heart is with you mothers! Let’s choose peace and purpose.