I hurried my kids along, tugging on their hands and urging them to keep up. We had a lot of road to travel and not enough daylight to do it in. No matter that the youngest two (both boys) wanted to stop to see the construction vehicles moving dirt at a worksite. No matter that the two oldest (both girls) wanted to gaze at a new flower bursting out of a sidewalk crack. We had things to do, places to go, people to see, and it all had to be done right this very minute.
I took little comfort in the fact that I wasn’t alone. Many of us have bought into the notion that to be idle is to be unproductive. We can’t stand to have a “free” moment, so we over-pack our schedules and we stress ourselves to the max by constantly doing, doing, doing. Busyness has become a status symbol. Always rushing around from one task to another. Constantly busy. On the job 24/7. As Americans, we’re busier than ever, filling our lives with constant motion and tasks to be accomplished.The sad part is the above scenario wasn’t uncommon in my life. Like many of us, I packed as much into one day as possible, leaving little wiggle room for stopping to smell the roses or see the first robin of spring.
We don’t just do that for ourselves—we do that for our children too. Then everyone ends up all feeling so overwhelmed by our lengthy and never-ending to-do lists. We’ve fallen into the trap of over-scheduling, over-doing and over-committing our time and resources.
And in the midst of our extreme busyness, we forget that to be constantly busy means more than having no free time. It also means we pass through life as if on a fast train, everything outside of our small world a blur without form.
When we suck our children into our busyness, we do more than slash their playtime. We also severely limit their imaginations. In short, being overly busy with little downtime squelches the wonder.
The wonder to take a few minutes to watch the worm wiggle across the sidewalk. The wonder to watch the giant excavator scoop up a load of dirt and drop it into a dump truck. The wonder to gaze at the puffy clouds and see a unicorn or dragon. The wonder to lay back on the warm grass and trace the contrail streams left by airplanes high in the sky. The wonder to let a mind drift into that magical realm of what-if that allows children—and adults—to dream the dreams that sometimes change the world.
I’m thankful I realized sooner rather than later that my hurrying to the next thing wasn’t always in the best interest of myself or my children. Now, while some weeks are more packed than others, I deliberately try to work in extra time on a regular basis so that when opportunities arise that demand a moment of exploration or investigation, we can take that time. My kids won’t always want to examine a tree’s peeling bark or gaze at an interesting display in a store window, so while they still do, I will try to help them take advantage of the situation.
Until next time,