As Americans, it's part of our culture to be busy. It's our national virtue. We work more hours than any other culture in the world. We are taught at a very early age that it's our job to be productive. We fill up most of our life with tasks that need to be accomplished. We give our kids chore charts, we make lists, we carry planners, and when we have conversations with people and they ask what we've been up to lately we lament, "Oh, I've been SO busy!"
But who made us busy? Did we somehow allow everyone around us to decide for us how to spend our time? Maybe sometimes that's the case, but most of us make that decision for ourselves. For most of us, the first question we ask ourselves when we finish a task is "What's next?"
The problem with this culture of busyness is that it doesn't allow for down time. It values a person for how much they can get done in one day instead of how much time we spend with our loved ones or how much time we spend on reflection.
Here at our house, we have been sick for nearly a week. Each family member has taken turns with the stomach flu. It was terrible, except for one thing. We had lots of time. We could easily say no to outside interference, and say yes to doing nothing. It gave me a lot of time to think and read.
I made it through two books about home schooling: Christian Unschooling by Teri J. Brown and School Starts at Home by Cheri Fuller. Both emphasize a need to "unplug" from electronic stimuli AND a strict busy schedule in order for natural learning opportunities to occur. Children have less motivation to turn to reading, pretend play, or educational activities if they are constantly being entertained by television, computers, electronic toys, OR extracurricular activities.
Having grown up in a house with a mother who HATED television, this concept is nothing new to me. But what struck me as "new" while reading these books is that it's not just the kids who can be effected by too much stimulation, I am just as vulnerable. I am just as likely to turn to Facebook or browsing the internet during a down moment rather than doing something that would be more nourishing to my mind and spirit. Instead of writing on my blog, which is an excellent outlet for me because it requires thought and contemplation, I play Sims. Instead of spending time in prayer, or doing personal devotions, I watch TV. Instead of reading a book, I... well, you get the point. I expend so much head space on things that have no value, and avoid the things that do with the thought, "I'll do that when I have more time." When exactly will that happen?
In one part of "Christian Unschooling" a mom struggling with scheduling commented on praying over her day planner. Specifically, she prayed that God would lead them throughout the day and that He would guide her children to whatever He wanted them to learn that day. I thought that was such a beautiful thought, because ultimately we as parent's control only a tiny amount of what our children need to learn. Praying, and recognizing, that God is the one who controls these things helps put our anxieties at ease. It allows us as parents to share the burden of raising our children with God, rather than try to carry that yoke on our own (and it's a very heavy yoke at that!). It's something that I need to do more of. As always: a little more You, and a little less me.