The Badge of Busy
I used to wear the badge of busy proudly. I would cram as much as I could into my days, running from this place to that, not seeing my home from the time I left for class or work until it was time for bed. Every now and then, a weekend would pop up where I didn't have anything on my calendar; I would clean up the chaos from my whirlwind days while I had a Gilmore Girls or Friends marathon, and that would be all the rest I'd need for another month or two. Constantly on the go, spinning as many plates in the air as I possibly could-- volunteer commitments, work projects, fun events, let's do it all! As the saying goes, "If you need something done, ask a busy person"--people asked, and I did.
I'm not sure exactly when I realized that this busy way of life wasn't what I wanted anymore. It's been a gradual shift from "I can do it all!" to "I want to be intentional about time." It began around the time I started dating my husband and was working at a job that kept me particularly busy. As we’ve moved through the seasons of our life together, from dating to engaged, from newlyweds to new parents, I’ve become more and more aware of how I spend and value my time. My badge of busy has gone from a constant companion to a piece in my jewelry box, only dusted off on certain occasions.
Over the years, as we’ve added children to our family, made career changes and shifts in employment status, I’ve made slow, turtle-like progress in leading a less busy life. A few years into motherhood, I really started to crave a slower, simpler way of life. Often, I would make some progress, and then backslide a little. A few steps forward, a few steps back. I switched from full-time working mom to part-time working mom and gained some extra time in my day. Added another baby and the extra time vanished.
When my third child came along, I was excited to start a new chapter as a stay at home mom. Leaving my job was bittersweet, but with my husband having recently switched careers, and my oldest heading off to kindergarten in the fall, it was a natural transition point. I was full of plans for all of the things I was going to do now that I was staying home, my to do list getting longer and longer. I wanted a slower pace of life, but also had a hard time really letting myself rest.
A few days after giving birth to my third, I ended up readmitted to the hospital with postpartum preeclampsia. There I was, in the hospital, while my baby was at home, and I had no choice but to rest--truly rest--in a way that I have rarely allowed myself to do. I stayed in a hospital bed for several days, and there wasn't anything I could do but rest. It was a terrifying experience, and when I got home, I was more in tune to the importance of not just a simplified schedule and home, but also to the importance of allowing myself to rest.
When I rest, I let myself believe that I’m more than all of the items I can check off my to do list. I’m more than accomplishments on my resume, or how clean my house is. I’m more than tiny squares on Instagram documenting a Pinterest-perfect summer bucket list. I’m more than all the laundry and dishes, diaper changes and grocery trips that make up my days.
When I allow myself to be still and know that He is God, I give myself the gift of enjoying who I was created to be. When I recognize that God gave us the Sabbath to rest, I recognize that God wants me to take time to enjoy the things that give me a sense of peace and a content heart. When I take the time to sit outside in the sunshine with a good book, fill a blank page with the thoughts running through my head, or fling open my drawers of craft supplies and create something just for fun, I’m resting in the knowledge that this is a part of who God created me to be.
Over the past five years as a mother, I've noticed that my children are happier when we have plenty of time at home. When I rush us from place to place, trying to cram one more thing in our days, no matter how much they may love the next thing--they resist. They want to stay home and play with their toys, use their wild imaginations, and stay in their pajamas all day. I've become more and more intrigued by the idea of minimalism, and while I'm nowhere near achieving any kind of minimalism, I have been inspired to slowly remove things from our home and our schedules that do not serve us well or have outlasted their purpose. I have learned that before putting something on the calendar, I should check not only that day’s events, but also the whole week. I’ve learned that adding margin into our days makes the day more enjoyable--for me, and for them.
Building in more margin to our life has led to some of my favorite moments. Spontaneous ice cream dates after preschool pickup. Pajamas all day. Lazy Sunday afternoons. Impromptu playground outings. Pancake breakfasts on Saturday mornings. And sometimes, instead of using the time when my kids are happily playing or napping to keep up with laundry or dishes or organizing projects, I allow myself to rest. I pick up the book I've been wanting to read and curl up on the couch, I sit down and allow the thoughts swirling around in my head to be put down on paper, or I try my hand at watercolor or lettering projects. I spend a few minutes reading the Bible, not for a study, but just to rest in the Word of God. I head to the back porch and watch my kids play while I sip my coffee. Instead of spending another night folding laundry and sorting through outgrown clothes, I get a rare babysitter for the evening and spend time with my husband, enjoying time just being us, without the demands of hands on parenting. I leave the bedtime routine to my husband for a night so I can sit down with a few friends and a glass of wine.
A rested me is a happier me. When I take time to rest, I'm more patient, more creative, kinder, and more energetic. I'm a better mother, wife, friend, and human. Rest is a gift, one we were created to enjoy, and I'm learning to accept and value what a gift it is.
Sometimes, there are weeks where life demands that I dust off my busy badge and get through the things that must be done. But more and more, I’m able to instead wear a necklace of three pearls - one for simplicity, one for margin, one for rest.
This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series "Rest."