Simplicity and Busy-ness: Letting Busy Happen

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Last weekend, I attended a seminar on simplicity, taught by Cynthia Heald. As a mother with elementary aged children, I have days when I yearn for a simpler life. I’m convinced this season of child-raising is just B-U-S-Y. Much of what Cynthia shared challenged me to refine and rethink my understanding of simplicity. For better or for worse, I’ll be sharing some thoughts, today and in future posts.

I try to keep margin in our family’s schedule. I don’t want to be a stressed-out mom toting kids to activities every night, a yell only one smart-alecky remark away. I’ve accepted without question the idea that busy-ness is a part of life.

 This is a glimpse of our spring so far: Hubby and I are involved in a marriage ministry at church, and we’re leading some people through a financial stewardship Bible study. I attended a five day writer’s retreat in February. My husband trained for his black belt test in karate, which took twelve hours out of each of the five weeks he trained. The boys attend karate twice a week and AWANA every Sunday. I help with worship at a weekly ladies’ Bible study, which also requires a practice one morning a week. I work in the kids’ classrooms one afternoon a week. We’ve had parent-teacher conferences and nightly homework with two boys. Oh, add to that house work (which, um, doesn’t happen often) and planning and preparing meals. And, I try to write one-two hours per day. Let’s see, am I forgetting anything?

Busy happens. I thrive on it. But it tends to eat me up when I forget to take a step back and just . . . breathe. We may have “too many good things to do,” as Cynthia Heald shared. I’m thinking about knowing the good things and discovering the best things God has designed for me to do.

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Busy-ness isn’t always bad. When I’m overcommitted, though, I become stressed. When I’m stressed, I become not-so-nice for my family to be around. And, I miss quiet moments with the boys, with my husband. Hubby and I have begun discussing our commitments and praying over what is good and what is best for our family. Some of the good will probably have to go.

When I simplify my schedule, it’s easier to focus on what God has for me each day. I want to simply sit when one of my boys crawls onto my lap for a hug and a chat, or a tickle fest, for a few moments to connect. I don’t want to miss out on that.

I’m sure I’ll have to re-visit this concept of simplicity to find the balance. Again. That’s okay. Simplicity needs to have more sway in the choices I make. When simplicity is the standard for my calendar decisions, a peaceful spirit is the result.

Your Turn: How do you define simplicity? How do you work through the busy seasons in your life?

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19 thoughts on “Simplicity and Busy-ness: Letting Busy Happen

  1. This is a great reminder. I’m in the same season of life with elementary aged kids. I am finding it very difficult to balance everything. I find that when I extend grace to myself the days go much better. If I didn’t cross everything off my to-do list or finish the laundry the world is not going to come to an end. It leave that important margin to connect when the kids need that.

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    • Yes, extending grace to myself…easier said than done for this wannabe-perfectionist. 🙂 I learned a long time ago to focus on getting one thing done a day off my to-do list. If that one thing gets done, I’ve had a successful day. It’s when outside demands come in that I begin to feel stress. Connecting with family is definitely more important than crossing off all my to-do’s. 🙂

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  2. Hi Jeanne,
    When I look at our life compared to a lot of families we know, I’m amazed by how few “extracurricular” activities we have. I know some might think our kids are missing out, but we’ve intentionally kept those outside commitments low. With Kory working in Denver and a special needs kiddo, we’ve got all the “extra” we can handle. I’m thankful we’ve had simplicity forced on us.

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    • I like that, “Had simplicity forced on us.” I think you’re in tune with what’s best for your family, and you’re keeping them first. Our kiddos aren’t involved in all that much either, for the same reason. And for the reason that I don’t want to be a stressed-out, yelling mama, which I would be if we had to be somewhere all the time. I love how you keep your family first, Evangeline.

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  3. Simplicity means “less” — narrowing my focus. Knowing what to say yes to (which is usually a lot less things than I think) and what to say no to (which is usually a lot more things than I think.)

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    • I’m with you. I tend to say yes to more things than I should. Years ago, a friend talked with me about putting more on my plate than God has, and how when I did that, I would feel overwhelmed. I’ve remembered that visual, and it has helped me in saying no. “Less.” Remembering that. I always appreciate your thoughts, Beth!

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  4. Oh, Jeanne, I totally feel you on this one! I’m the queen of busyness, or I have been in the past. But this year, my husband said, “We can’t keep living our lives like this.” I agreed…we’ve always been those people too busy to get together with friends because we have so much going on. I don’t like that because I miss out on so much…because isn’t that what life is about? God and people? It’s so easy for me to get caught up in achieving that I forget about the other stuff. Thanks for being so open here! It’s good to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

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    • Yes, Lindsay, that’s what life is about: God and people. How often I have to come back to that simple truth and remember. And re-prioritize. Again. 🙂 It sounds like your husband is like mine–he doesn’t like being overly busy, and he’ll let me know when he’s reaching that limit. I love hearing your thoughts, and knowing I’m not the only one who struggles in this area. 🙂

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  5. I worked for a really snobby woman as her nanny, and yes, she truly was a snob. But she taught me one thing that has stuck with me, “good is the enemy of best.” What is good for us and our families is not always the best. I try to ‘wife’ like that and parent like that.

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  7. Sometimes it is surrendering to it. ..going with the flow. And remembering I have choices along the way.. working together with my husband, asking for help…letting go…following my heart and saying no..thinking outside the box…
    I have a little 4 year old daughter. Luckily she is like me in that she likes down time.

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