why we are not busy

I don’t know what it’s like for you, but around here when I run into people at church or the playground or a cocktail party and I ask “how are you? How’re things?” the answer I commonly get is “busy! we’ve just been so busy.”  Often, I hear  a list of activities, either child or adult driven, or house projects, or work issues.  Mostly, these things sound interesting.

I have a confession to make:  we are not very busy.  And I love it that way.

I get short of breath thinking  of the schedules that I sometimes hear of people keeping.  I know for some people this works.  You know the saying: If you want something done, give it to a busy person.  Somehow it fits.  But for me, being busy equals more stress.  More timelines.  (Remember how I’ve been working hard to never hurry?  It would just be utter failure if I had so much to do).  I know this is my very nature, and it seems to work for our family.  Around here, we often have nothing scheduled.  But it’s not because we don’t DO things.

We get out plenty, and do lots.  Some things we do as a family (like our Saturday morning music class); some things are kid activities (the Gardens are a favorite!) Us grown ups are involved in the constant cyclone of house projects.  But mostly we hang out.  I have found that in just leaving space, being available, we are open to spontaneity (ice cream in town on a hot afternoon!) and creativity (you should see what the Eldest can do with Lincoln Logs).  I want my kids to witness this in my husband and I, so that they know how to be spontaneous and creative themselves.

Sure I’ve heard the words “I’m bored.”  And sometimes, I’m bored, too (though I often don’t recognize it at the time).  But these moments of boredom, of discomfort and disquietude, are often the springboard for something deeper and more rich than anything I could have planned.  These moments can all look different: as really great conversations with my husband; as a really awesome fort that the kids constructed (and kept them occupied for hours!); as inspiration from an unplanned source.  But they all grow us.  I learn about myself, I learn about the people around me.

It’s also about being available for the moments of need in my life.  I don’t want to be so scheduled that I don’t have time to make a meal for a new mom.  When a friend is hurting, I have time for the cup of tea and a chat.  When my kiddos need extra love and snuggles, we’re not running out the door trying to get some place else.  In not being so busy, I can live in the moment that is in front of me.  I can have Christ’s eyes, and I can be Christ’s hands.

Many of the things that keep us busy are good things: to learn a new skill, make a new friend, serve your community.  I’m sure there will be a season in my life where more structure will come, as the kids are older and develop their own interests.  What I’m providing for them now is a venue to begin to even know what those interests might be.  But I also know that even when my kids are teenagers, we still need times of “not busy.”  When I was a teen, so much of my growing up happened in the unscheduled moments.

I can’t imagine what our lives will look like that far in the future, but I’m thankful that today the weather is beautiful and we have no where to be.

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13 thoughts on “why we are not busy

  1. Thank you thank you thank you for saying out loud what I often shame myself for. We are not a “busy” family either – we intentionally create margin. Sometimes I feel guilty for that – like I should be enrolling my child in all things competitive and creative. You have just validated my un-busy, yet entirely “full” life!

  2. I love this post. I happen to think that unscheduled time is incredibly important to development in both adults and particularly children.
    We have been ultra busy lately with moving house and a few other things and I haven’t enjoyed it at all.

  3. I have been meaning to recommend a book that relates to this post. It’s called Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry, by Katrina Kenison. I think it’s out of print, but you can get it on Amazon. You’ll love it. I read it right after I had my second son. It brings back memories of middle of the night feedings, during which I would read the short chapters in the this book. It set the tone for my new life with two children.

  4. This is so true. I started working full-time recently, and it’s been hard just for the reasons you mentioned. I miss just waking up and knowing I had a full day to dedicate to my sister’s birthday, or a new friend who had a baby. Busyness is sometimes an escape in itself from what really matters in life.

    1. I’m sure you’ll find a balance soon between work and non-work. Mostly, I think work is in a category by itself anyway, and it’s the pursuit of activities and that level of crazy that comes with it that gets it the way. Well said, though, “busyness is sometimes an escape from what really matters in life.”

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