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Making Time To Be

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So, I’ve really been mulling some things over lately. And let me just say from the start that this post is just me thinking out loud, not some prescriptive mandate for myself, or anyone else for that matter. If you have any thoughts of your own, I’d love to hear them!

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks. Graduations and ballet recitals. Company and *being* company (I could get used to that one!). Baking and teaching. Shopping and cleaning (this is never-ending, right?). Basically, we have something on the calendar every single night for 9 days, save one. This is unusual for our young family! I watch my younger siblings, and my friends and neighbors, with their kids’ ages spanning all over and all their coming and going and carpooling and rushing and running. They truly need a flight scheduler or something. It amazes to think that these mothers do all they do and stay sane. Those mothers are SUPERMOMS and I am learning so much from them! Because I know, as my children get older, that my day is coming. And to be honest, I’m dreading it a little.

I tend to fall on the other side of the spectrum though. I tend to guard our calendar from getting too full, which is funny for me, because I thrive on being around people. I’m beginning to think that maybe I guard our family calendar to a fault. But when you have a husband who likes to be home and two young children, I know that there are only so many commitments that our little family can take and still be nice to each other. πŸ˜‰ But I wonder if I’m too protective of our time . . . if we’re not giving enough of ourselves to our community and church. This is a fine line to walk and I want to learn to balance it with grace.

Do any of you mothers out there have any advice or thoughts?

But I do think that on the whole, our culture is waaaaaaaay too busy. Obviously, this is a very personal matter, and I’m not judging families that are exceptionally busy (I’m AMAZED by them, really!). But, in our culture, it seems sometimes like family time usually comes last. There are music lessons and school and work and mom’s activities and sports and church activities and all those things we think are necessary for our children to be well-rounded. We want to give them every opportunity . . . to live their childhoods to the fullest. And I want this too.

But how do you know when all the scheduled opportunities are stealing away from all the child-created possibilities?

What about the quiet family time? The Saturdays when families simply hum through family life – maybe dad cutting the grass and mom fixing lunch and the kids frolicking about, playing house in the sheet-draped tent in the living room? Does this happen much in America anymore? When I was a kid, my sisters and I played the *craziest* things. Yes, Barbies and hopscotch, jump rope and kickball. But we also stretched our imaginations and became The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, incarnate. And somehow, George Washington would come along and we’d all fight in the Revolutionary War together. See? CRAZY. And I cannot *believe* I’m publishing that on the internet for all time. πŸ™‚

But isn’t this childhood?Β The taking of what you know, what you love, what you’re learning (we’d recently watched a mini-series on George Washington when this imaginative play was taking place), what you’re dreaming, and weaving it all together? Somehow creating your own little worlds, where your young little lives can direct your larger-than-life, imaginative lives, in a way that gives you the excitement and maybe even courage to enter adulthood with all its possibilities. I’m sure there have been studies on this. But my theory is that creative play is central to a child’s learning how to meander and cope and tackle and invest in their own lives.

So, even though my children are a bit young, THAT is why I guard my calendar. Because I want our family to sometimes just be family. To let our children just be. To create. To play. To explore their little minds and imaginations, even in the confines of their own little domain of a bedroom. I think on those times with my little sisters and I’m beginning to believe that they were the most fun and explorative times of my childhood. So while I should probably learn to say “yes” to a few more opportunities that come our way, I hope that as my children grow older and are involved with schooling and learning and music and sports, that I’ll still remember to say “no” to the obscene busyness of rushing, rushing, rushing, and “yes” to the simply being every now and then.

Because I’m beginning to believe that if you don’t purposefully keep some blank spaces on your calendar, there is always going to be something begging to be written in.

Someone please remind me of this in five years. =D

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7 responses »

  1. This is one of the most relevant posts I have read lately. You’ve hit the issue spot on. Several years ago we did the same kind of evaluating and backed off of almost everything just to give the kids a chance to breath. I do think homeschooling families struggle with over scheduling perhaps often for all the wrong reasons. Great post, Audra!

  2. Wow! Was that hard to do? And thank you, Beth.

  3. Hello! I’m late responding, but I’ll add in my two cents. I think you are so right to be protective of your family’s time. Get good at it now, because you’ll need to be even better at it in a few years! Once you have been swept into the cyclone of busyness, it’s so hard to extract yourself (mainly because it means having to tell people “NO”).

    We have to plan “do-nothing” family days, and that makes me sad. They should be the norm, not the planned-three-weeks-in-advance exception.

  4. I think it’s great that you plan them though! That’s the kind of thing I was talking about!

  5. Maybe we are just kindred spirits, Audra… I feel *just* the same way you do about family time: wanting to protect it all while I admittedly get refreshed by time with others. In myself, I find it a strange dichotomy. I constantly wonder if we should be doing more to engage our church and community. Yet, more makes me want to run and hide. We have MUCH family time, probably as much as you all. We also get lunch with my husband since he is a pastor and church is next door. While it is such a blessing, it can also be a rub, so many hours to fill with purpose. That’s when the gratitude list is so important to clearing the vision, right???

  6. We MUST be kindred spirits! πŸ™‚ That’s me in a nutshell. And how wonderful that your husband works just next door!

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