Wednesday, July 25, 2012

If I'm not busy, why do I feel so crushed sometimes?

This article ("The 'Busy' Trap" by Tim Kreider for the New York Times) was an interesting read and a good reminder that the opposite of "busy" is not "lazy."

I think it nicely echos for adults some of the sentiments that Simplicity Parenting, (that book I started but still haven't gotten through since Joe temporarily stole it to read on his daily el trips), puts forth for children.

I'll admit I often feel overwhelmed in my daily life, but I am beginning to realize that I've been looking at it all wrong and describing my situation incorrectly.  Yes, I have three children under five, and keeping them fed, clothed, and occasionally bathed can easily fill the hours of my day (and sometimes night).  However, I don't have a job, I get babysitting help to buy myself some freedom now and then, our children are enrolled in almost no activities, I've given myself a pass during Waylon's babyhood on actively participating in any civic or charitable organizations, and we don't even feel obligated to accept all of the children's birthday party invitations that the girls receive from classmates.  So yeah, I think my house is a mess and thank-you notes are unwritten because I'm prioritizing other things, not because I'm busy.  Which is not necessarily a bad thing.  If I feel spent after a day of domesticity, or if you feel spent after a day at the office, maybe vegging out and watching the new "Dallas" really is a better way to recharge than weeding out the winter clothes from your dresser would be.  (Yes, it's July and I'm just now getting to the seasonal switch of kids' clothing.)  I'm just trying to find the right balance, because when to-do's pile up, and entropy runs its course, I start to go crazy.  Physical clutter seems to lead to mental clutter (or unrest?) for me.  So perhaps I am not busy, just disorganized.  Also, while I say I'm fine with my priorities, maybe I'm not really because there's usually some task that feels like it's hanging over my head (sometimes for months), and I do feel guilty about not keeping up with personal correspondence better than I do.  

This may have been a weird, disjointed post, but in conclusion:
1) Dallas rocks.
2) Here are some tips for simplifying the storage of children's clothing, which I suck at.
3) Are you watching the new Dallas?  Because you should be.
4) You may not busy as you go around saying you are.  Or if you are that busy, then do something about it if it's within your control, or stop complaining about it/bragging about it.


Sarah said...

I totally agree that we create our own busyness and are basically spoiled brats. But definitely, you are busier than I am, and my husband gets the busyness award for best dramatic presentation. Good for you for keeping your priorities in order and giving yourself permission to limit chaos for the sake of your own sanity. What is this Dallas you speak of and do they have it on Hulu?

Ann said...

I was almost too busy to reply to this post.

And no, I've not seen the new Dallas and I'm really not sure I ever will. But I take your word for it that it's good.

I totally agree about the bragging/complaining aspect of this busyness syndrome. Why must everyone be so occupied at all times? I kept Elisa home this summer from preschool, we are doing zero paid/organized activities and some mom friends have seemed amazed we can do things on our own pace whenever we want. It's as if they need the pressure of that busyness to do anything at all. I just don't get it. And I think taking it easy and allowing kids (and ourselves) time to play and relax is really important. In time maybe I'll be tooting a different horn with two kids in school and a full-time job. But for now, I'm not complaining. And I'm not busy.