Friday, August 14, 2015

Less Busy, More Awesome

my inspiration
Our cat is an inspiration for our lives.

One thing I've been working on for our family, especially for the time I spend each week on my own with both girls, is a peaceful life, both at home and in general. I think that in our culture, there's both an immense amount of pressure and a huge amount of temptation to be very busy. There are so many options of things to do, and places to go, and people to meet. Just this week, someone in a local home education group asked what sorts of activities our kids do on a regular basis, and I was shocked to hear how many activities a lot of families are engaged in. It would be easy to look at those lists and feel inadequate as an activity planner, or to think that we should add some more things to our list. Then I remembered that, actually, we used to have that many things on our list. And we hated it. We just didn't realize it at the time.

I know that many families do well pursuing a lot of activities. To them, being very busy feels good. It feels productive. And it probably is productive, at least for some of them. But for us? It really doesn't work out. While we really liked some of the activities themselves, the process of getting there and back, of getting all the supplies we needed, of being away from home so very much, was really stressful. We weren't enjoying the time we had in between the activities; we were just busy recovering. However, it was really hard while we were living that life to figure out how to change things. We couldn't figure out what to give up. When we moved, we had the perfect opportunity to start fresh.

When we first got to London, we focused on getting settled. We needed furniture, we needed a bank account, we needed to know where to buy our groceries and get the kind of toothpaste we like, and all those things. It seemed like enough to do, figuring out how to live our day to day lives in a whole new country, so that's what we did. By the time we were all settled, I realized that our life had become a lot more peaceful, and that made all of us happier. The kids were learning to get along with one another and play together well, to resolve conflict and respect each other's boundaries. They were often eager to be helpful to me, and they took a lot of joy in our family life. When we did less, we got more of all those things.

As we approach fall and the beginning of a new school term, we are getting ready for regular activities to start up. Z has performing arts classes on Saturdays, and E will have ballet on a weekday. That will be it that in terms of regular participation in activities. One thing per girl per week. It sounds like so little, but it opens up the rest of our life for so much more. More tea parties, more adventures, more stories read together, more sleep. (I love sleep.) More tolerance for stress when we do decide to do something out of the ordinary. More travel, more conversation, more running in circles holding hands.

We do less, but we get more. Way more.

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