We rush to work and then rush home. The kids have practice, music lessons and then we have to get to the church. We have to get to the gym. We sign up to help, host parties and work on fundraisers all the while holding down the mundane tasks for the week like laundry, changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, helping with homework and grocery shopping. The kids have recitals and weekend tournaments. We have business luncheons, work meetings, carpool duty. The list is long and exhausting.
I mean really, who even has time for creative pursuits? Date nights? Time alone to recharge: whether that’s sports, reading a book, tinkering on projects or creating with our hands.
Isn’t that why the majority of people “veg” on the couch with ice cream at night? Because the brain can be turned off. Laugh. Cry. Get angry at the character on-screen. And then… turn the TV off too.
Why can’t life be like that? Why can’t we just turn it off and go to bed?
Oh, wait. We can. It’s called learning to say, “Enough!”
I understand that there’s some things you can’t avoid. Work to feed the family and pay the bills, check. But really, everything else is pretty negotiable. Including the kids education and activities, as well as how much time you spend volunteering, socializing, or doing fun, physical, or creative activities.
When I see the calendar start to fill up, but realize there isn’t one date night scheduled – I see that as “out of balance.” If I have time to take my kids to 4 hours of gymnastics in a month, but can’t find a 4-hour window for quality time with my husband, then something is wrong. This is when I start pulling back and saying no. I start calling baby-sitters, circle the time in sharpie on the schedule and start shifting other things.
Often when people are asked, “how are you doing?” The response is “fine.“ But I think even more I hear the words, “I’m busy.”
And sadly, busy is the new norm. It’s not like the “busy season” actually goes away and we have a time of refreshing and renewal (unless we intentionally go away and vacation.) Usually life continues to hum along and we enter into a different busy-ness.
We run from Labor Day straight to Halloween and then into Thanksgiving without breaking a sweat. The 3 1/2 weeks between the end of November and Christmas are a full on sprint. We slide into the New Year and barely breathe before it’s Valentines Day and spring break and then Easter. Summer is a blur with family trips, camps and activities. And before we know it Labor Day and the season of shorter days beckons us again.
And here we are. Halfway through January. And what I am hearing over and over from friends, clients and family is : “I’m just catching up from the holidays.” “I feel like my year has only really started this week.” “It’s been hard to get into a new routine.”
And that’s sad. Because here we are with the month half over. And people are so exhausted from Christmas, (which was 3 weeks ago!) that they can’t seem to get back on track.
And I get it – there are extenuating circumstances at times. I totally understand. My husband just came out of a 100+ hour work week. (Yes, the first week of the New Year.) But then it came to a crashing halt and we pulled everything off the schedule, and we refueled as a family. And it was wonderful. He needed it. We needed it. And I get that some of you reading may be in a cycle of 100 hour work weeks with no end in sight.
So then, what can you change?
Look at the calendar. Really look. Are there things you can delegate?Invitations that you can decline. Responsibilities that you can relinquish for this season. Maybe it’s less time driving to activities and practice and more time at home playing games. Maybe it’s a break from “friday night out with the neighbors” and it’s “date night” instead for the month.
It’s half way through the first month of the year. If you feel like it hasn’t started yet – there’s no time like right now.
Be purposeful in your plans. Because when people ask me “how are you doing?” I want to be able to respond with a resounding “I’m doing GREAT!” instead of “fine,” or worse, “busy.”
It’s time we learn how to say “enough!“