I am on a constant quest to become un-busy. I want to live in the moment. Like many parents, I want more time on what matters most to me — my husband, my children, my health.
But how does one do that with a chaotic family schedule?
What I have learned as a parent of older children is that it takes time to grow your children’s passions, and by time, I mean transporting said children to places. And even when one limits extracurricular commitments, one activity multiplied by two outside practices/lessons multiplied by two kids equals a minimum of four back-and-forth trips in the minivan per week.
So the question we ask ourselves is…
Can you be un-busy when your life is filled with concerts, tournaments, lessons, practices and every other activity our children must attend?
Is there only one definition of busy?
The answer lies in how intentional you are with scheduling your family. For most parents, watching our children grow and thrive in an activity they love is a rewarding experience. These activities can have a positive impact on kids for the rest of their lives; many studies show that kids who have outside interests and hobbies become happier adults.
The problem arises when we fill our schedules with meaningless obligations that don’t fuel our hearts and minds.
There is a difference between being busy with “purpose,” such as participating in a chess competition or working towards a black belt in Karate and filling your schedule with “busy” events, such as attending every party, school function or playdate.
Committing to the value of what you are participating in often relieves a little bit of the stress.
How then does one maintain an UnBusy Life when the pace of your family schedule is strikingly not?
5 Tips for Leading An Unbusy Life When Scheduling Gets In The Way
Here are a few tips:
1. Reality check.
Don’t feel the need to push your child to the next level of something due to a fear that they won’t succeed if they are not “all in.”
Does your son love soccer? A Park & Rec league that meets once or twice a week can fuel his love for the game without the time-commitment of club level sports.
Have a child who aspires to be a chef? YouTube videos and some adult supervision can meet her needs just as easy as cooking classes at 8 a.m. each Saturday.
Remember the end-goal is to discover passions your kids can take with them the rest of their lives, not merely filling gaps of downtime.
2. Maximize your “wait” time.
If you plan right, you can effectively use the time your child is at an activity to complete other tasks, such as errands, finishing a work project, or paying bills.
However, it also can be a valuable unbusy time. While one child is at class, it is an excellent opportunity to spend quality one-on-one time with their sibling.
Take a walk to clear out your brain or finish that book. Clean out any clutter in your car or purse. Use a meditation app to find ten minutes of peace. Shut your eyes and picture what you’re thankful for at that moment.
3. Know this too shall pass.
As with everything in parenting, the necessity of driving your children to and fro seven days a week is a season. Sometimes we have to accept our current situation as temporary and embrace the chaos as best we can.
Enjoy the season you are in to the best of your abilities.
4. Be perfectly imperfect.
When your schedule is hectic, the disorder feels amplified. Pick and choose your priorities and know that perfectionism is not the end goal, but a happy a family is.
There will be nights that the dishes do not get done, or the laundry needs to be run a second time because no one put it in the dryer, and that’s okay. Live and enjoy the life you are in during this moment.
5. Schedule family time.
This is often the most significant stress point for unbusy families: when do we just have pure family downtime? While it sounds counterintuitive, when you’re in the season of busy kids, a great way to ensure you are still connecting is by scheduling time together every week.
It may be Friday night pizza dinners, or Sunday-breakfast after church, or even reading together every night before bed. Whatever it is, though, write it down and stick to it.
By alleviating the negative thoughts that you are missing out on this critical component of your life, you can find some semblance of peace within the chaos.
BONUS TIP: Sink into the small moments.
Be present (without scrolling your phone) when you watch your child participate in his or her favorite activity. Ask them questions and learn more about it.
Use the time in the car to connect with your kids – not to harangue them about their behavior or grades, but to laugh and share. Celebrate victories and offer a shoulder after defeats.
And last of all, remember…
UnBusy doesn’t always mean doing less. In fact, it means doing more of what you love with the time you have.
After all, as J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”