By Cathy Spooner
You can hardly blame us for being swept up in the culture of busy. It surrounds us in our every day lives, life is busy and I’m struggling to find any parent who can tell me otherwise.
Sure, there are aspects of this that won’t ever change, I mean there are 5 of us in our house and we all have physical and emotional needs that must be met on a daily basis. That is a full–time job! But I’ve been asking myself this year; how do I create space for connection amid this busy world?
I’ll start by sharing a little story. I had woken up with the worst kind of migraine. The ‘you don’t get out of bed for nothing’ kind. Instantly I felt (outside of the pain) the inconvenience of it all. I had a college class on that day, an assessment to submit, I had a long list of to dos and I had promised my daughter, in amongst all of that, that I would be at her weekly school assembly. I was trying to reason with myself that another hour of rest and some medication would keep it at bay just so I could get it all done. Sound mad right? At the time, it was an automatic response.
I had been pushing and stressing myself into a twisted and wound–up version of myself and I couldn’t even see how I got there. I kept saying “I don’t feel stressed” and I didn’t believe I was past my point of overwhelm because I was living from a state of low grade stress. The kind that just simmers along in the background and we keep ticking away like lemmings.
The migraine passed and so did a week or two, but nothing changed on my end. I went straight back into life as it was. Sure enough, another migraine came along and this time I listened. My body had enough… either I trade my doing focused behaviours or I keep repeating this cycle.
So often we hold on to so much, for so long. The busy schedules of sports, dancing, tutoring and therapy. Running the household, running your own business, going to work, and dropping the kids to school. Thinking about how to pay the next bill, why your kids keep getting sick, the doctors appointment you really need to book and how you’d like to lose some weight. Throw in the added pressure to keep your marriage healthy, catch up with friends, do play dates and try make the most of family weekends.
So here began the crusade to trade the busy culture for connection. I must say it’s been harder than I thought busting this hustle mindset and I’ve fallen off the bandwagon many times. But I’ve learnt a few things about this process, and myself.
Prioritising is essential. Our lists and responsibilities are massive and some of those things just can’t be changed. But we can compartmentalise them and work out our priorities. We can’t do it all. We can’t be everything to everyone. We need to draw a line somewhere. Anything above the line is a priority, anything below is valued but can wait. My personal tip: everything above the line should be about half the quantity of below the line. This means your priorities have space and time.
Switch off the outside and tune in to you. A huge part of the busy culture is the external noise and expectation. What is everyone else doing? What is expected of me? I should be doing a, b and c. Allow yourself to be led by your internal compass, what feels right for you and your family? The noise and influence outside of us feeds the busy and doing mindset, turn that down and turn up your own inner guidance.
Be intentional with your time. We get to choose how we spend our time. We need to use it wisely and with those we love. We won’t remember things; we will remember moments. Aim to swap those below the line things with intentional connection. Let the washing sit unfolded for days if it means you and the kids go for a picnic. Make sure you clock off on time at work so that you get home for pizza and movie night. The small things matter most.
Let go of your cape. We all think we truly can do it all and we take on way more than we can accomplish (hence the to do list that never gets to zero). Then, when we are overwhelmed, we can become resentful. There aren’t any medals being handed out at the end of life, if you’re doing it all and are unhappy, then something needs to shift.
It can feel hard to break the mould that society has built around us, but the busy culture isn’t doing us any favours. We need to be okay with missing out and things not getting done. We need to find what feels good and aligned for us, not what we “should” be doing. We need to choose another way.
Cathy Spooner is a Certified Women’s and Motherhood Coach, Counsellor, Author and mother to three. She is a Mental Wellness and Neurodivergent Advocate and supports women to help reconnect with their true self. Individual, group sessions and courses available. @cathyspooner_