Every year for the past 6 or so years, I’ve run a Family Camp. All kinds of families come to meet and spend a week hanging out at 6000 feet up in the beautiful mountains. We share a cooperative liberal environment to play, sing, worship and hang out. So at camp and I promised myself to take some time and do some writing. Lately, I’ve been “over-busy” and it’s been impossible to take time to sit and write. Much is written about how over-scheduled we are as Americans. Many people I know have multiple hats and feel obligated to fill every role competently. Because of how we’re managing our lives, we go on vacation exhausted.
Usually at camp, everyone is excited and finds that making choices of what to do very difficult- they want to do everything! This year however, something different happened. The parents were tired. Like me, they were looking to spend some time finding some way to restore themselves.
So what to do? Can we wear less hats? Is it possible to say “no” and still find our way? Let’s face it, for most of us, what we try and do was not even considered by our parents.
Just take the facts of what is demanded of parents in relationship to their children’s schooling. Parent/teacher conferences at least twice a year, fundraisers-at least two, children’s birthdays at school, teacher gifts at both the holidays and the end of the year, school performances, PTA meetings, and well, you get the idea. What I have just listed would take any parent a minimum of 20 hours a year. I think my parents spent 3 to 4 hours a year seeing me in school plays.
So taking that logic, I’m spending 5 times more time supporting my child’s education, and now multiply that by my TWO children. (Those of you with more children, pull the covers over your head!)
We all have the same 24 hours. How do you want to spend your time? Are your choices having an ill effect on your health? Are you overweight? Are you casually drinking more than is actually casual? Are you sleeping too much? Too little? Do you lose your temper? Do you feel generally depressed? Are you out of shape?
I bet it’s you.
Now I’m not suggesting that anyone needs to give up their children, I am suggesting however, that with these demands on our time, SOMETHING has to give. We have the same time limits as our parents, and yet our modern society has duped us into thinking that more is better, which translates into more of our time, energy, and that to sacrifice yourself is somehow noble.
We are exhausted, depressed, dissatisfied and our efforts can seem fruitless. So what to do?
When asked to do something I have developed some tools to help me narrow my choices to keep my time more in alignment with my health needs. And believe me this is a process. I’m still in the works.
First, I ask myself, will saying yes to this project bring me towards what I want in my life, or bring me further away? If it looks like it’s only a distraction, I try hard to catch myself and say, “no.” Let’s face it, it’s flattering to be needed and that’s very seductive. But this is about my survival, so I need my ego to be silenced and listen to my heart.
I’m scheduling restorative practices and if that means I balance my time with take-out for dinner, so be it. There’s plenty of healthier take-out. I’m asking my family to participate more in “my” jobs. I’m trying to schedule myself to be in nature without having to do something while there. My needs to be in nature is to rest.
I don’t want the demands of my life to take my life away too early. I still have things I want to do. I want to work towards what stokes my passion and I don’t want to continually feel overdone. There is nothing peaceful about this way of living. Ultimately, I want to live with peace.