I’m coming off of a whirlwind year of campaigning for my local U.S. Congressional candidate, leading an activism group, a book manuscript deadline, a writing gig, theater performances, a full-time job, and momming t(w)eenagers. I’m tired. Like, really, really tired. So what am I doing differently this year? I’m going to be less busy.
I’ve thought this through, and actually, I started a few months ago. I’m done doing busy. Busy stinks. I really think if moms would make the choice to be less busy and more in-the-moment, everything else would sort of, almost, take care of itself.
If you are a busy junkie like my (soon-to-be) former self, it might seem easier to just let the busy-ness have you. After all, the kids are still going to have all of their events, and you aren’t going to quit living your best life for the sake of being a little lazier. But what if I told you that busy is as much a state of mind as it is a state of motherhood?
Just Say No
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve committed to doing something all while berating myself in my head because I know I’ll be too tired, or driving across town after work to attend an event will be so NOT fun, or because what I really want to do instead is hang out with my people at home in my pajamas.
So . . . I’m giving myself permission to say NO. I won’t shout it. I’ll still be polite. But it’s okay to say no every now and then. I’m going to start listening to that voice in my head that knows what’s best for me.
One practical way to help tame the over-commitment monster is to get a planner and USE IT! I finally purchased a cute (albeit pricey) planner. I chose to see it as an investment. I’m committed to putting everything in that planner and to making sure I have plenty of white space throughout each month.
That white space is me keeping my promise to be less busy. I’m not making any plans for how to fill that white space either. I’ll do (or not do) whatever feels right in the moment. Maybe I’ll use it for reading all of these books I bought and didn’t have time to read last year. Maybe I’ll use it to binge on Netflix. Maybe I’ll use it to play board games with my boys. (Lord help me, Fortnite has invaded the board game industry.) The point is I’m going to spend that white space being less busy and more in-the-moment.
I love the idea of meal planning, but I’m trying to do less planning and more being, so this one is a bit of a cheat on my promise, but one that will ultimately make hectic days easier and less frantic, which is what being less busy is all about. Planning out our meals for the week keeps me busy for a short time each week and frees up a lot of brain space that I would normally put to use worrying about what to make for dinner.
One of the most genius habits I’ve gotten into is keeping smoothie packets in my freezer. My favorite combo is strawberries, bananas, and kale. Get yourself a smoothie blender (I love my Nutri-Bullet) and teach the kids how to use it. All three of my kiddos like smoothies, and they are a fantastic go-to meal! I keep yogurt on hand at all times. All they have to do is pop one of those smoothie packets in a blender cup, add some juice and yogurt, and blend away.
I’ve also taught the kiddos how to make a few simple meals for themselves for those times when their busy-ness doesn’t work with my busy-ness. For Christmas, I got a new toaster oven — hello Mom’s new best friend! I don’t worry about my teenagers using a toaster oven, but if your kiddos are younger, figure out what they can make themselves for those times when it’s needed. Cereal for dinner is a thing.
I’m not entirely sold on this one yet, but here’s my convoluted thinking. Exercise makes me sweaty. Which means I have to take a shower. Which means washing my hair, which takes forever to dry. Thirty minutes of exercise is an automatic two hours of doing nothing but focusing on myself. I can’t be busy while I’m doing that. We’ll see how it goes.
Slow Down, and Care Less
My middle son is the slowest person on the planet. Seriously, he doesn’t know the meaning of the word “hurry.” It’s always seemed a little frustrating to me, but maybe he has the right idea.
Rushing stresses me out and makes the busy seem busier. Part of my plan to be less busy is to be more like my kid. It will mean caring a bit less about things that used to be really important. My house may not be perfect when people come over, and I’ll need to be a bit more organized and intentional with certain chores like preparing lunches the night before, but it’s doable.
Less is more my friends. It’s true.