7 Ways to Survive the Busyness Epidemic

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Busy Word Cloud

Ask anyone how they are doing these days and a common response you’ll hear is, “Good…Busy!” as they run off to get to their next activity.

Busy. Everyone these days is busy. Busy with school, busy with work, busy with volunteering, busy with after-school practices and lessons, busy, busy, busy.

It’s an epidemic sweeping across our culture.

In a sense, productivity has become a god – a hidden idol. There is an overwhelming pressure in our culture to be all and do all as best and as fast and as much as we can.

From youth, we are encouraged to set goals and dream big in order to find self-fullfillment, gain wealth, and change the world.

Yet, do we ever stop to think about why we are busy? Why do we feel the need to make sure every part of our over-scheduled days is filled with some activity? Do we stay constantly busy to avoid what we know needs doing but would rather not? Are we hiding from something — what? Maybe it’s out of a desire to feel important, efficient, useful? (Let’s blame Sir Topham Hatt for that one, shall we?)

Certainly those things are valuable and important – to a point. Beyond that, we have to ask ourselves –

Is all our “busyness” fruitful? Or will our addiction to constant busyness produce anything short of anxiety-ridden and exhausted families?

A message I recently heard from a priest reminds us that –

If we busy ourselves with constant activities we, [unintentionally or not], close ourselves to the constant promptings of the Holy Spirit and His Grace.

Even if our intentions are good and God-serving, we must take time to evaluate our lives and look at our calendars with a fresh perspective. There are many demands on families these days and feeling overwhelmed and stressed-out is bound to happen at least a few times throughout the day. Staying active and busy is part of our journey, but busyness is not THE path to heaven. Still, even in our full days, we can find peace and not allow busyness to consumer and take over us.

Here are 7 Ways to Combat the Busyness Epidemic and Bring Peace Back into your Life – and your family’s:

1. Prepare Ahead to Save your Head

If you have a billion things you know are coming up, prepare ahead – don’t leave things to the last minute or you’ll find yourself running around like a stressed-out-mother who can’t find her keys when she’s already running late and hasn’t eaten anything but sugar and crackers the past few days. Get up earlier and go to bed earlier, help your children and spouse prepare ahead so when it’s time for everyone to go their separate ways you won’t spend your precious little time together all stressed out and yelling at everyone to get ready. (This will probably still happen occasionally but at least you can lessen the chances by preparing as much as you can ahead of time.)

2. Don’t Rush

S-L-O-W D-O-W-N. Arrive early for activities so you can walk in slowly, casually – take in the scene and maybe even breathe in some fresh air on your way in. It’s amazing how much stress you can relieve by slowing things down and not rushing from one place to another all the time. Calm your nerves, slow that heart rate down, and reserve the adrenaline for the next road race or mad dash to the bathroom with a potty-training toddler. When you do run late, take a deep breathe and relax – you’ll get there when you get there and no amount of huffing and puffing will get you there any faster. Remember, this time will pass by like a flash; soak in these moments so you’ll have memories to keep you company when all you can do is sit or lie in your bed alone all day.

3. Say No to Say Yes

Say no to over-committing so you can say “yes” to your most important commitments – your spouse and your family. With every new school year comes a barrage of responsibilities, sign-ups, and volunteer opportunities. It’s OK if you do not do everything. Your child will still love you and you’ll still be a good mother even if getting everyone to school and back on time is all you can realistically – and sanely – manage at this time in your family’s life. The PTA can handle itself without you but your family cannot.

4. Take an evening or early morning stroll

Get outside and enjoy a lovely stroll – not a high-powered walk or a marathon-training run. Just a nice, easy stroll. Take your children with you and allow them to explore, discover, and play along the way. And do not bring your phone! Just enjoy the moment and take pictures the old-fashioned way – with your eyes.

5. Take time to Read or Write a letter

Put all the gadgets and remotes down and grab a book – not a non-fiction or a work-related how-to. Get comfy and settle in with an exciting thriller, a juicy novel, or a soul-stirring masterpiece. Read with your children, let them turn the pages and take in the illustrations – no rushing. Get out a pen and paper and write a letter – not a quick email or text message. Send it to a dear friend, a family member, or even your spouse (like the good ol sappy love letter days). Take time to share what’s in your heart and thank them for their friendship, love, and presence in your life.

6. Play

Take time for play – yes even grownups need play time. Play with your children, even if it’s only a few minutes of wrestling with daddy or make believe play with mommy. Get outside and throw a ball around, or play a board game. It’s amazing how a few minutes of “recess” can reenergize you and actually help you function at a higher level.

7. PRAY

This is really the most important. Take time throughout the day to be still  – and pray. No audible words necessary. Put down the phone, close the computer, and “go into your inner room [your heart], close the door…and pray…” Visit Jesus and spend time with Him in adoration. Pop in on your way to and back from work or picking up kids, linger in the church after Mass, and just be with Him. No books, no specific prayers – take time to stare into each other’s hearts and let His Love wash over you. And if you happen to doze off…that’s OK – your body needs a little recharge in the day. Give Him your overwhelmed, stressed-out and exhausted heart. Give Him your busy.

Lastly remember, it’s not what you do our how much you do but the way you do it and the amount of love you do it with that matters most.

It's about how you do what you do

Copyright 2014 Erika Marie

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About Author

Erika Marie is a simple Catholic, Wife, and Mama. She relishes snuggles and free time with her family and enjoys reading, writing, blogging, and has a slightly obsessive addiction to creating Canva graphics. Enjoy more reflections by Erika at her personal simplemama blog.

7 Comments

  1. This is simply spectacular!!!! I do some of these things regularly to combat feeling frantic, but I need to turn “some” into “most.”
    Love, love, love this one – worth printing and passing out at carpool line 🙂

  2. I have shared and will keep sharing, Erika!
    For me, the frantic feeling or finding myself in the midst of chaos is something I avoid nearly at all costs. I find it makes me have much less patience (and patience is not a virtue with which I am overflowing in the first place :))and feel much less joy as I go about my daily mothering.
    So I do my best to plan and prepare ahead whenever possible. This means I start the week with all school uniforms washed, pressed and organized in closets. I plan meals for the week and do my shopping (minus the inevitable mid-week trips to replenish produce and milk and the unavoidable trip to get something I forgot) ahead of time. And I always, always pack school lunches and make sure backpacks are packed and ready to go the night before.
    I think it’s crucial for moms to figure out when they’re at their best. I am NOT at my best first thing in the morning, so I try to only leave things that must happen in the morning and that can be done on auto-pilot.
    I also have a rule that since we have three kids and my husband works long days, each child is limited to one activity per season. This helps avoid situations where multiple kids have to be in multiple places at the same time. Still happens, but it’s the exception rather than the norm.
    Mind you, I still find myself putting on a pair of crazy pants now and then, but I try to keep those days to a minimum. Your suggestions and guidelines will help even more – I’m sure of it!

    • Ha, ” Mind you, I still find myself putting on a pair of crazy pants now and then, but I try to keep those days to a minimum” that made me chuckle. I need to just throw those pants out! 😉
      yes, whenever we don’t make lunches the night before, the next morning is NO fun.
      I like your idea about the 1/1 for activities. That was something I thought about while writing the post but that topic is one of its own. I struggle with that because even if we did that, we have 4 kids and that could end up being very busy still! Our oldest (10) has one sport once a week and now flute lessons, which I don’t count as an activity per say since it is to help her band/school grade.
      I can tell our other son (7.5) wants to start something but I already feel overwhelmed so I keep putting it off but I know soon enough he’s going to start wondering why only his older sister gets to do extra things after school. Sigh, I just need to embrace it I guess. 😉

  3. Pingback: Drowning in Busyness | CatholicMom.com - Celebrating Catholic Motherhood

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