Busy has become a badge of honour in our society. It is common to hear the response “busy” to the question “how are you?” or to answer that way ourselves. Some days, the Facebook statuses I see seem to be a competition for who had the busiest day. When was the last time you heard someone say “I sat and sipped tea, enjoying the sound of birds all morning, had a nap in the afternoon before enjoying a long visit with a friend”?!
When we pile on more and more into our life and into our schedules, we are setting ourselves up for disaster. It is imperative to create margins in our lives so that there is room for the unexpected, room for sickness, room for down days, room for relationships, and room for joy.
Back at the beginning of the summer, I experienced a bit of a crash. I had filled pretty much every square inch of my life. I was keeping my head above water, but barely. I was getting tired and could see burnout on the horizon but I just kept pushing through. Then, we no longer had the person who had been helping us with child care. Suddenly, I was doing everything I had been doing before but was taking all the kids with me to all the appointments and working at 2 in the morning because that’s when the kids were sleeping and getting so behind on laundry that cries of “I have no underwear” were a daily song. When our circumstances changed, I hadn’t bothered to adjust my commitments and that burnout that had previously been far off in the distance came front and center. It soon became impossible to ignore the obvious: something had to go.
There have been several times over the years when I have had to reevaluate and decide that it was time to let something go so that I could allow for those margins. It has been a relief every time. I have not regretted those decisions, though they have been hard to make at that time and there were sometimes losses that came with them.
I’m the type that thinks I can do it all (my body and my laundry pile argue I’m wrong!) and it often takes a wise or exasperated outside voice (usually my husband) to remind me that something’s got to go. In our years as foster parents, every time I wanted to take a new baby into our home, my husband would ask “what will you give up?”. It was not only smart, it had the added perk of allowing me extra time to love on that sweet baby!
Choosing to let one thing go before adding something else makes complete sense. If I kept every piece of clothing I had ever owned and continued to buy new clothes, nothing would fit in my closet. Schedules are like that too. There are only so many hours in a day, in a week, in a month, in a year, in a lifetime. Living life to the fullest doesn’t mean cramming as much into it that you can’t enjoy the moments or take advantage of spontaneous opportunities.
Consider the current commitments that you have and what is taking up your time. Next, analyze what each one brings to your life, how critical it is, what energizes you, and what the real consequences would be if you were to let that one thing go. Note that I said “real consequences”. It’s easy for us to think that there are things that cannot survive without us, that we are the only ones able to do a certain task or job, but that’s usually not the case. Lastly, choose something to let go of.
Maybe it’s a group that you are a part of, meetings that you attend, laundry that your kids could be folding and putting away (though not as well as you do certainly!), an extracurricular activity your child is a part of, a task you can delegate…
If you feel like you are drowning or even if you just feel like you don’t have enough space in your days to stop and enjoy, something’s gotta go!
Join us this month as I share ways to help you move towards the life you want to live. Join me in the challenge. Ready to jump off the cliff?