Tim Kreider, an Opinion writer for the New York Times, recently tackled the topic of how busy we are. The topic caught my attention because, frankly, it fits way too much of my own life.
We now live in a society where we complain about being too busy, yet we continue to take on more, do more and stay “too busy.” Kreider said we have become accustomed to encouraging this world of busyness, telling those who complain about being busy that, “That’s a good problem to have,” or, “Better than the opposite.”
With those encouragements, we continue on. We don’t just go to work anymore. We plan to take care of errands at lunch, we plan on getting out of work quickly to go pick the child up from daycare to head over to little league, gymnastics or cheer. We are now grooming our children to take on this “busy” life.
This is not what we are required to do. No, all of this is self-imposed busyness.
Kreider said it best, “It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve ‘encouraged’ their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.”
We feel as if we are failing if we are “bored,” if we don’t work those extra hours, have the kids in multiple athletics and clubs, and plan each weekend to be packed full of fun, and busy activities.
Like Kreider points out, our children are coming home just as tired as we grown ups are at the end of the day. They go to school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., they have after-school activities and then they have homework, dinner and getting ready for the next day.
I remember when I was in elementary and middle school, I came home from school and it was time to play. Sometimes reading in my room, others involved adventures on my bicycle down the streets of town or up the dirt road that led to the river. While I participated in some sports, it wasn’t my whole life and my mom and dad worked, but didn’t make being constantly busy a part of our life.
Kreider touched a nerve in me because I notice more and more that I am hesitant to even let my first grader go on our street and ride her bike just around the cul-de-sac. We are very fortunate in that we know, and trust all of our neighbors, but at the same time we worry so much that we don’t allow for those after-school adventures anymore.
I want to be able to allow her to have the fun I remember having. I want her to grow up relaxed and not falling into the trap we seem to be in. I don’t want her to be busy all day every day.
However, saying I want that is hard because just like everyone else, I am constantly creating more things that I need to get done. I began looking at little league, dance and gymnastics for this soon-to-be seven-year-old. Kreider’s column, however, made me see that she can do one of those things and still have fun.
And, by deciding to do only one of those activities, it will free more time up for the rest of the family to enjoy an evening after work.
So, here’s to the mentality of getting “unbusy” and not feeling like a failure for doing so.