Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How doing less can be the hard thing

City living has given me an exposure to the hustle of family life. In the process of making new friends, I keep running into this: many families are so busy with activities, they do not have time to get together with friends. It is not at all uncommon for families to have to schedule a play date out several weeks because their schedules are so packed.

I get a little panicky at that point. So many questions come up for me: When is there time for an ordinary family life? What about family dinners, board games, walks around the neighborhood? Is there ever time to experience the joy of putting the kettle on for an unexpected visitor? What about time to be alone? To read a good book? To get bored and then come up with a fantastic idea for some creative project? What about time to just relax, to NOT be hurried? To just be present with one another? To enjoy slowness? To snuggle and laugh together?

I'm sure people wonder about me too and worry about all the things my kids are missing out on because I don't make them play one sport and one instrument and take an art class besides. I have my moments when I worry about the same thing. Maybe I've got it all wrong. I know I probably have something wrong. But I'm not worried about right or wrong here. There is a different right for every family.

What has struck me about all this is that it probably looks like I am doing the easy thing. It might even look like I'm lazy, like I just don't want to bother with taking my kids all over the place. In fact, I often feel like it is the hard thing. It is going against the crowd. It would be easy to be swept up and do what most people are doing. It would be all too easy to give away our family time, our friend time, our leisure time one little piece at a time. There are so many really cool opportunities for kids these days! For me, the hard thing is to be careful and intentional about what I say "yes" and "no" to, to protect the family life I have created and value so much.

How do you decide what to say "yes" and "no" to? How do you know when your family is doing too much?

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