The Busy Trap

“We’re just so busy!” I hear this multiple times a day, coming out of my own mouth and the mouths of other parents whenever we have conversations about what we’ve been up to lately. Everyone is busy, probably too busy, but we all just keep on being busy. Busyness is the societal epidemic of right now, and I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to crack under the stress of being so busy all the time.

Family tension reached a high on Sunday morning when I suggested we all go for a bike ride. “Sure,” Jason responded, but then we couldn’t figure out how to fit it into our day’s schedule. With the kids’ naps, my need for some writing time, J.’s workout at the gym, a violin rehearsal, grocery shopping, and a dinner invitation, there was no point during the day in which we could squeeze in an hour-long bike ride. In the meantime, the baby was screaming for extra bites of food after finishing his own very large breakfast and A. continually pleaded, “Will you please read to me? You said you’d read to me! When can you read to me?” My voice got progressively louder as I tried to carry on a conversation above the chaos, keeping as calm as possible, but when I suddenly realized that all four of us were talking and/or screaming simultaneously, I knew I was about to blow a fuse. I grabbed my coffee and headed to the back patio to calm down. We never ended up going for that bike ride because we were too busy.

As unpleasant as Sunday morning was, it served as a good wake-up call. I suddenly realized that we’re just too busy. Every week, my planner fills up with activities to the point of explosion. This may sound like an exaggeration, but some days I feel so busy that I can’t even return friends’ texts because I’m on the go for hours on end. Take this upcoming weekend, for example. Friday night: I’m hosting a baby shower cocktail party. Saturday: kid’s birthday party in the morning, another baby shower in the afternoon, bachelorette party in Toronto at night. Sunday morning: drive back from Toronto in morning, afternoon violin rehearsal with choir and evening performance. This kind of jam-packed weekend is typical for us, and it’s downright ridiculous. I have stuff going on almost every night this week.

photo: istockphoto.com
photo: istockphoto.com

This pace is unsustainable and unhealthy because it negatively affects the mood at home. I become snappy and irritable with Jason and the kids. I need unscheduled evenings when I can put my pajamas on early, catch up on writing deadlines, and do some reading. When I don’t have that reliable downtime, all aspects of my life suffer. The problem is, it’s hard to say no. I am naturally very social and love entertaining, going out, keeping busy, even if it takes its toll on me. I have to fight the urge to fill my planner with fun things and learn to say no when it’s simply becoming too much.

So here’s my goal for this upcoming month: Escape the “busy trap” by keeping social obligations to a minimum and work on refocusing myself at home.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “The Busy Trap

  1. It’s hard. I’ve finally learned that empty spaces on the calendar don’t mean I have time any more than checks in my checkbook mean I have money. It takes some “white space” on the calendar to maintain sanity.

  2. I’m naturally very introverted (although I can fake extrovert like a pro) and so we say no a lot and yes only occasionally…otherwise we’d go insane. After working hard all week, weekends are our precious time together just the four of us. I am brutally upfront about that and I find most good folk understand.

  3. While the last several months have been full of challenges, there have been several distinct positives. Possibly foremost among them is what I’ve learned about how much downtime I need. Before, I was driven toward constant busyness, constant production. Losing some health and some energy helped me better figure out what gave me energy and what took it away. Stepping away from my electronics at 9 p.m. and abandoning them until 5 a.m. helped settle me into feeling less busy, as did learning to embrace unscheduled afternoons or, heck, even days. I’m still not as comfortable with them as is Anthony, but I feel like I’m on the right track. Lovely food for thought, this post! Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s