Being “busy” is the new cool. It’s the new status quo, the new norm and the new way of life that’s plaguing moms across the globe.
Think about it, the last time you ran into someone at the grocery store and they asked you how you are, how did you respond?
“Oh, I’m great… I’ve just been soooo BUSY!”
Of course we’re busy, we’re moms.
We’re the generation of super moms who, as a result of unrealistic, photo-shopped versions of reality on television and social media, are somehow expected to keep up with all the other moms who seem to have the remarkable ability to juggle work, family, volunteering, cooking, cleaning and running fourteen errands all while folding six loads of laundry (while driving, of course), and looking fabulously sexy for our husbands.
Are you kidding me?
It’s an illusion no one can keep up with for very long.
Come on, admit it… behind the scenes we’re really a generation of down to earth tired moms struggling to keep up, screaming to wear our slippers and sweats to Target, who long to take a power nap during the day and who’d love to give a shout out to the world that we’re sick of our frantic, frenzied lives and we’re ready for a strawberry margarita on a terrace with friends who feel the exact same way. (I’m totally serious about the margarita part… oh, and the part about wearing our slippers and sweats to Target.)
But, what I’m wondering is, if we’re all so incredibly tired of it, why do we work so hard at being busy? Are we really as busy as we say we are?
Who are we in competition with? What are we trying to prove? Is it really us or are we simply a byproduct of a culture that celebrates being crazy busy? Have we been seduced and motivated by the impression that everyone else is doing more and far cooler “stuff” than we are? Do we push ourselves beyond the limit as a means to prove to the world that we’re important, successful, accomplished or popular as if it holds some level of profound status? Or, maybe, our lives are so incredibly boring that we feel compelled to put up a well-crafted façade on social media to prove to the world just how fabulously busy and amazing our lives really are.
My question is… why do we seem to care so darn much about any of that and, more importantly, how do we stop the cycle of perpetual busyness that’s wearing so many of us out and robbing us of precious moments we can never revisit?
Sure, there will always be things that have to be done, obligations and deadlines we have to meet and events and happenings we have to attend, but is it really necessary to cram as much as we do into one short 24-hour period as if our life depends on it? Would our world come crashing down around us if we stepped off the racetrack for a few minutes every day just to breathe?
You may not realize it, but being perpetually busy can actually become an addiction and it can be just as challenging to stop as any other addiction such as alcohol, shopping or drugs.
The big difference between the “busy” addiction and other addictions is that Western society places a high value on being busy. Our society doesn’t only accept it, we embrace it, crave it and even use our busyness as a benchmark to gauge the very essence of our lives.
What’s worse, our busy lifestyle is wreaking havoc on our health. It’s zapping us of our energy, making us irritable, impacting our immune system, giving us headaches, and making us lose far too much sleep. Heck, our lives are so darn busy that we’re having trouble finding the time to exercise and eat healthy.
Is it really true that we don’t have the time or is it that we don’t take the time? It’s a vicious botched priority-driven cycle we can’t seem to break.
But, the saddest part is that we’re passing our Starbuck’s, caffeinated, infectious mindset onto our kids.
Our kids are being taught, simply by observing us race through life, that in order to be productive, valued or successful we must be constantly on the go. And, we wonder why our kids are totally stressed out?
In an era where downtime is viewed as a weakness, laziness or simply a luxury we only succumb to one or two weeks out of the year when we’re on vacation or when we’re flat on our back sick with the flu, maybe it’s time we join forces as moms and admit that we can’t do it all, that we can’t be everything to everyone and agree to jump off the hamster wheel and detox from the damaging barrage of busyness.
Maybe we need to stand together in our slippers and sweats in our messy houses and rejoice in serving chicken nuggets to our kids when we’re tired, not wearing any makeup because we just don’t feel like it, putting on comfy pilled clothes we’d never be caught dead wearing in public, watching three straight hours of Netflix because we’re in serious need of a break and drinking fruity margaritas on a Friday afternoon because, well… dammit, we deserve it.
Let’s do ourselves and our families a huge favor by making the commitment to slow down a bit and delve into a little more white space on our calendars before it’s too late. Let’s just say “no.”
“No, thanks for asking, I’m going to hang out with my family and watch a movie tonight.”
“Oh, I’d love to volunteer for the PTA, but this is Madison’s last year at home before she heads off to college and I want to be available to spend quality time with her.”
“No, I’m sorry, I can’t be the team mom this year. I’ve done it for two years running – I’ll let someone else take the baton this year.”
If the “busy syndrome” is taking over your life and stealing precious time away from your family, here are 4 ways you can break the relentless busy cycle and strive for a better, more balanced life.
Start with Small Steps
If you’re feeling totally overwhelmed and exhausted, making a change in your life can be a daunting feeling. Dialing your busyness down a notch doesn’t have to happen overnight. It starts with a decision to simply do a little less. Even if it’s saying “no” once a month to something you would have otherwise said “yes” to or putting off a task that can wait, take the first step toward a less chaotic, more balanced life.
Re-Evaluate Your To-Do List
Whether it’s a running to-do list you keep front and center on your desk or a mental to-do list you run through in your head every morning when you wake up, our to-do lists rule our life. The problem with to-do lists is that they’re typically reactive rather proactive and quite often they don’t have any solid connection to our long-term goals.
The next time you review your to-do list, scratch off anything listed that isn’t truly necessary and replace it with something that’s going to bring you more peace in your life and connectivity with your family. A night out with friends, a game night with your kids, dinner out with the family or a hike in the mountains – anything that brings you one step closer to the balance you’re seeking in your life.
Let it Go
Do you like the laundry folded a certain way? Are you picky about how the groceries are put away in the pantry? Does it really bug you when you ask your kids to clean the bathroom and when they’re finished it looks like a two-year-old cleaned it? Maybe it’s time you let some things go and ease up on the unrealistic demands you place on yourself and your family. Instead of seeking perfection in areas in your life that really don’t matter, focus your energy on things that will make a difference in your life and your family’s life. Ten years down the road your kids won’t remember if the pantry was organized or whether their laundry was always perfectly folded. They will, however, remember how much time you spent with them, the memories you shared and the laughs you had.
Disconnect from the Chaos
Constantly checking your Facebook or Instagram account, reacting to the “ding” of a new message on your cell phone, answering every call that comes in… it’s no wonder we feel frazzled and hurried throughout the day. Amidst all the other expectations we place on ourselves we’re tethered to our cell phones, social media, the television and the constant barrage of interruptions and disturbances in our lives. Remove yourself from the chaos and step into the calm, even if it’s only for a few moments every day to enjoy a leisurely stroll through your favorite store with a Starbuck’s in hand, enjoy a nice cup of hot tea curled up with a great book or hit the treadmill to work off a little stress and do your body some good. Take a much-needed moment in your life so you can hear yourself think, consider what brings you joy and relish in the quiet of the day.
So often our busy lifestyle is nothing more than sheer habit. We’ve gotten so caught up in the slick-paced world around us that we’ve become a victim of time. We’ve forgotten how to fully appreciate the moments of each day and relish in what surrounds us – our family and friends, nature, sights, and sounds. We run our lives as though everyone is watching and judging us when, in fact, we’re the ones judging ourselves. So, the next time you find yourself slipping into the whirlwind of today’s society, step back from the mayhem, take a deep breath and remind yourself to live in the moment. There’s nothing more precious than the present.