If you want to stop by for coffee or tea just let me know when. We don’t have a lot of things on this week.
Or if you need a hand with something just ask. I have plenty of time.
Or if you want to go to the park last minute just let me know. We’re always up for a spur of the moment play date.
I’m not busy.
Three years ago I was working full-time and moving house and dragging my pregnant self to bootcamp class and out for early morning runs. I liked my job and I worked a lot. I would stay late a lot of nights or go in on Sundays to get a head start on the week. I sometimes traveled for work and I often had evening events to attend or put on.
I was busy. I said it a lot. I’m really busy right now. I’d love to join/volunteer/do/meet-up but I’m just too busy.
At that time busy = important. Busy = life was moving forward. Busy = getting things done.
Things have changed since then.
We’re not that busy as a family. And I’m proud of that. We’ve scaled back our lifestyle so we could have more time. Time for unstructured play for our son, time for lazy Saturday mornings in bed as a family, time so that we can say yes to a last minute invitation.
Some of this is due to only having one of us working outside of the home full-time. Some of it is due to minimalism and our decision to buy and own fewer things. Another reason is that my husband and I are introverts and we find having a packed social schedule tiring. But a big reason for not being busy is that we’re all happier this way. We have more patience. We sleep better.
There is a lot of loose and unstructured time in our life. We like it.
This piece in the New York Times, The ‘Busy’ Trap, examines our need to be busy, what we think it says about us and why we need it.
Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. – Tim Kreider
When people tell me they’re so busy now I’m not impressed. I’m also not as empathetic. I used to nod my head in agreement, I know, I know, just so much to do. Now I just try and change the topic of conversation or say, well I better let you go then if you’re so busy.
Busy should be a season – not your daily life.
As the NYT article said, really busy people don’t say they’re busy.
Because they’re too busy to stop and talk or to take your call. They’re working three jobs or they have a family member gravely ill in the hospital. They’re opening their first restaurant in five days.
Really busy people don’t have the time to take on the things the rest of us do – sports, social commitments, house renovation projects – that make us so busy.
I know this slow pace we’ve adopted, the free unstructured time we have in relative abundance, won’t always be the case. We’ll run into things like having two children with events on opposite sides of town while my husband has an evening conference call and I have a writing deadline. I know that even as we strive for a simple life we will inevitably have moments and seasons of busy.
I just hope we always see that there is a way out. That we continue to see that busy is usually a choice.
Creating a “Not Busy” childhood.
So many of you have recommended Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids and I am finally reading it. Thank you. This book is a great resource and I will have a review up once I finish it.
Today’s busier, faster society is waging an undeclared war on childhood. – Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross
There is too much in this book to summarize in a few sentences but I’ll try. Children need unstructured free time, predictable but simple schedules and age appropriate media/information in their lives in order to thrive. We are stealing our children’s childhood with too much information and too many time commitments.
Isn’t this reason enough to drop one or two activities, to put your Blackberry away during dinner and to send your regrets?
Busy is a choice.
People aren’t in a big hurry here. There aren’t that many things to do and it’s usually a short drive or walk to anywhere you have to go. Bad traffic is almost nonexistent. Island life is slow.
Sure, I do have local acquaintances that are busy. They have demanding jobs and a calendar packed with social engagements and extracurricular activities for their kids. One Saturday I ran into friends that were about to take all three of their children along to the five year-old’s third class of the day. While the pace here is slow there are still lots of opportunities to buck the trend and be busy, busy, busy. If you want that.
We don’t want a busy life so we’ve embraced a loose and flexible schedule. We have maybe a half dozen social commitments through the end of August. Mostly parties we have RSVP’d to or tickets to a show. We have just one family trip booked; four days in London during the Olympics. The weekly class I go to with Henry is about to shut down for the summer. I have a standing play/lunch date once a week and I work from home two short days and one morning while Henry is in daycare.
There is lots of time to putter around the house, doing laundry, playing trains or pack a lunch to go eat in the park. My husband and I might have evening commitments once or twice a week. Our weekends are mostly unscheduled. We have all the time in the world to decide to take a train to a little village or play on the beach or read or make a roast or see if another family wants to come over for brunch.
We’re not busy and I no longer think that makes us boring or means that we aren’t doing worthwhile work.
Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. – Tim Kreider
Anyone else turning their back on the culture of busy? What have been the challenges?