“Love is infinite. Time and money are not.”
This is the trinket of wisdom our pediatrician gave me when I told him I was worried about how I was going to handle our second born. Boy, was he right. Our son holds my heart just as much as my daughter does, and time seems to be flying out the window.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel validated by how many things there are in the planner. “Oh, when am I free? Between 2 – 5 p.m. on Friday two weeks from now. Things to do, you know!” Since having children, the pressure is even more intense, making sure they are participating in a number of well-rounded, enriching programs. This fall, and the slew of activities it will bring, will be evidence of that. Our oldest will be starting preschool, dance, and will continue swim lessons. Our youngest will be in music class and tumbling.
After combining these activities with my own work, church, and community commitments, the white space on my planner is quickly starting to dwindle, and I haven’t even allotted time yet for things like laundry and grocery shopping. And it is starting to hit me that we are fast approaching the stage of life when we will be chained to a schedule. This realization has brought with it a tinge of regret that I’ve been using busyness as a means of self-validation.
This is not the example I want to set for my children. I don’t want them to value busyness over everything else. Instead, I want to slow down and teach them that building relationships is more important. Living intentionally is more important. But, how am I supposed to do this when I have already tied up so much of our time? I looked to Google for the answer, thinking that it may have the answer for some sort of master time budgeting skills. But, I only found ideas that further exacerbated the problem of a too-full schedule. In one particularly detailed summer schedule, a mom had every hour of every day scheduled, from breakfast to bedtime. After turning up my nose at her doing exactly something I would do, I decided Google was not my answer. I needed something a bit more drastic.
For the rest of the summer, with very few caveats, we aren’t planning anything. That doesn’t mean that we won’t be doing anything. Quite the contrary. But, this decision has caused me to lay down some ground rules for the rest of the summer, which, in reality, are more for myself than anyone else:
- When we eat, we will not rush. Even if it means sitting in a restaurant watching the kids eat the rice grain by grain. This is, of course, subject to meltdowns. I’m still darting out as fast as I can with those.
- When we make commitments, they will be important ones. The litmus test is this: will we regret not doing this thing later on? Most of these commitments involve family.
- We will say “Yes” more to friends and “No” more to peripheral commitments. Last minute playdate, yes! Sorry princess dance camp, you’ll have to wait until next year.
- We will spend time resting each day. Between two toddlers and a pregnant momma, this should just be a given, but I am particularly awful about scheduling time to rest each day.
- We will cuddle. When in doubt, cuddle.
- We will explore. Our city has so many amazing things to do and see with kiddos. And, sometimes, the best adventures happen spontaneously (with a little help from this guide or this one, of course).
- I will do what I love, and I will encourage the kids to do the same. One of the things that gets tossed by the wayside when I get busy is reading. I love reading books. It relaxes me in a way that not much else can. And, while both kids are too young to have real “hobbies,” they both love crafts (i.e. creating giant messes that take too much time to clean up). We will be crafting and cleaning a lot this summer.
- We will seek ways to help others. This may be the most important thing I want to teach my children this summer. When we are busy, it is so easy to brush off lending a helping hand because it doesn’t fit neatly into a schedule. By freeing up our time, we will have both the time to see the needs of others and to meet them.
This fall will bring with it a very busy season of life. But, for the rest of this summer, we are taking it slow, and hopefully learning to live our days intentionally with each other.