“Beware the barrenness of a busy life” -Socrates
It took me years into adulthood to realize this about myself, but I am an introvert. Don’t get me wrong; I love people. Forming bonds and relationships is one of the best things about life. I don’t avoid crowds and festivities. I’ll strike up a conversation standing in line at the grocery store. But the way I recharge my batteries, the way I fill my cup, is by being alone. By being still. Taking quiet time to myself and reading a book, or shopping alone, or sitting at a coffee shop, is what rejuvenates me, body and spirit. I revel in those rare moments when I am able to breathe and just be, without talking, bustling around, or worrying about the day’s tasks.
In this day and age, when someone asks you how you’re doing, it’s almost a compliment you pay yourself to respond with, “busy!” I think it makes us feel proud, or important, to have so much going on. Sometimes it slips out of my mouth, too, before I can stop myself. But, I’ll say this from the get-go: It has never been my default to glorify or enjoy busyness in my own life. My whole being seems to respond in a visceral way. My cup is empty. I’m short. Exhausted. Touchy. Burnt out. I remember hearing someone say once that busy should be a season– not your daily life. That resonates with me.
Lately what has gotten under my skin is how little time I do actually spend clearing my head and heart anymore. During those few precious moments when I find myself alone, instead of sitting in the sun on my deck, journaling, watching something that makes me laugh, or picking up a book, I find myself jotting down to-do lists, trying to tackle the never ending mountain of chores, or logging hours at work. Scrambling to keep all of my plates spinning. Motherhood has turned me into a productivity monster. There are parts of me that gauge the success of my week based upon whether I have done enough. Who sets that standard, anyway?
I say “no” to mom guilt. I have never given it a foothold in my parenting and won’t start now, with this. Busyness will not steal my joy, and I won’t stand for it robbing me of precious time with my family. And, most of all, I won’t let my actions teach my children that busyness is a status symbol or a value to hold dear.
So with that, I’m starting to undo some of my self-imposed busyness. Some weeks, I deny myself the notion that I’m doing something wrong if I have nothing fun or exciting planned for the kids. I don’t need to cart them to back-to-back playdates in order to care for them or have a good week! Instead, it may give us health to eat and get dressed at a slower pace. Go outside to play on the porch in the sandbox. Draw with chalk. Go for a walk. Give space for the kids to make their own fun. Playing board games and molding play-doh between loads of laundry and dinner prep.
Because my oldest is in preschool a few mornings a week and my infant graciously naps in the morning, I have beautifully carved out time to nourish my spirit by honoring my need for rest, if only for a half an hour. It brings contentment and joy to my week when I do this, and I know that it’s possible to do for myself as well as do the things on my list. If I can continue to develop my ability to balance my roles and tasks in a healthy way while still taking time to feed myself, I know it will bring harmony to myself and my family in the long run.
Would you consider yourself a busy person? What are some ways you can attempt to slay your ‘productivity monster’?
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.