There are several things falling into the category of being a true thief of joy. For me, though, being busy is one of my top three thieves. When I write “being busy” you probably thing being busy with errands, running kids all over town for lessons, putting together something fancy for my kids’ school, and things of that nature. That is only part of it. There’s more.
Our summer was jam packed with excitement. I knew from the beginning I didn’t want a busy summer, but my husband had other plans. His worry was we might get bored. He literally planned my kids and my whole summer with the intention of us never having a dull moment. This was his way of being thoughtful because he wanted to make things easy for me. I knew from the moment he told me the schedule how excruciating it was going to become. In fact I said something regarding the fact, but he either didn’t believe me or didn’t hear me. The only thing for me to do was suck it up, grin and bear it, and all those other “encouraging” phrases people say when things get hard.
I’ve learned two things this summer:
1. Being busy is for the bees.
2. I’m exceptional at smiling through the chaos, especially in public.
A big portion of our summer was vacationing away from our house. It really wasn’t vacation as much as visiting with family out of town. We decided together a full month back home (my husband’s and my hometown) would give the kids ample opportunity to visit with all the grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Our children really miss out on those beautiful relationships. Well, needless to say, it was very difficult be gone so long, however good things did arise!
I’m a pro at packing light, often too light, but this time it came in handy. My wonderful parents have an apartment type place we stayed in just so we could have our own little space. There’s not much for dishes over there, no toys except the few my mom brought over from her house, and absolutely no clutter. We had everything we needed and not much more. That gave us so much freedom. It was eye opening, really!
Every night I’d make lists in my head of all the items in our home we could get rid of and how it would make our lives better.
This was number one because we get so many toys from so many loved ones every Christmas (times four) and every birthday. At Christmas, I’m not sure how we get by without renting a U-Haul to pack it all back to Oklahoma. Here’s the thing though, I already go through the toys. We even have a large portion stowed away in a locked cabinet to get out when they’re bored with their daily toys. It is still too much! I know my kids play better when they’re less. It is the beauty of getting creative with the little you have. I see it, and I also see the characteristics of selfish, me first, what’s next? children from having too much. (I’m pretty passionate about this, so maybe I’ll blog about it another day).
Take away: We’re too busy cleaning up toys all over the house.
Having just a few outfits while away was a blessing. The laundry can’t pile up to high or you’ll run out of underwear. In our house we do a load of laundry every night to keep my sanity. It’s true and it works, but my kids could literally wear the same clothes everyday, so why do they need more than five outfits? Why would they need more than ten? The bigger question is how have we accumulated 20+ outfits for each child? (The baby does need more than five outfits, because he drools excessively, but that’s different).
Take away: We’re too busy washing, drying, ironing, folding, and hanging up laundry.
I’ve gone through all my cabinets and rid myself of the dishes we don’t use or even need. This was remarkably rewarding. Trash bags and trash bags of stuff went out for garage sale and then what didn’t sell was given away. We run our dishwasher every night, so why so many extra dishes? The items we use when we have parties and make loads of food didn’t get thrown out, but definitely left my kitchen, they are stored someplace high and out of sight, or in our storing spot in our basement. There’s no need to jam pack the shelves of the pantry with extra.
Take away: We’re too busy putting away dishes in cabinets with little room it takes an art or science to place it inside without it all crashing to the floor.
Can you even count on two hands the electronic devices you own? We can’t, and I didn’t realize that until just now. Electronics are taking up a large portion of our time these days. If you spend one day not getting on facebook, instagram, snapchat, or even on the internet reading articles, news, wonderful blogs, etc. and add no TV, no movies, not even one commercial, you’ll have hours of freetime on your hands. You know it, but it is just so dang addictive right? I see it in myself, but I don’t see it to be a problem until I see what it does to my children. They’re becoming addictive to instant gratification and are losing any sense of self-control they had. No wonder they can’t sit still in church.
Take away: We’ve been busy trying to make up for the time we spent aimlessly on electronics.
If you don’t go to the grocery store with a list of what you’re going to eat, you’re probably going to buy extra items you’ll eventually need to throw away. Look in your pantry or refrigerator. Does it constantly need to be cleaned out? Who has time for that? Do you really eat your leftovers? Donate any unused items from your pantry to the local food bank ASAP! We live in a consumer’s world currently and we feel the necessity to buy more than we need. We are fortunate enough to live 10-15 minutes away from our favorite grocery store. So I don’t mind going twice a week to be sure our food is fresh. This also helps me not overstock my shelves because I’m not fretful about what if we get to day five after shopping and all the food is gone?!
Take away: We’re too busy trying to make room for the food we buy, trying to decide what to eat for dinner, and occasionally we’ve been taking too much time cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry.
If you dwindle down your pile of clothing, then does every person really need a dresser? Our girls (our boys too) have way too many clothes, share a dresser, and still have two empty drawers. Does every bed need a nightstand, or is that just where you keep your junk? After you go through all of your things and take away a good portion of stuff you either don’t need or don’t use often enough. Are you buying more furniture because you’re acquiring more stuff, if so when does it end? When you need a larger home? Our house feels small for our family, but I think it is because of lack of space due to our stuff. I hate that word, by the way, I hate the word “stuff”.
Take away: We’re busy cleaning around, dusting, and bumping into our own furniture. We’re busy complaining about needing a bigger house to put all of it inside.
Clearing away this kind of clutter will literally make your life less busy, well at least after you’ve done the work to go through your rooms. The most amazing thing that happens though, clearing away the clutter clears your head. You have less to think about getting done. Your calendar clears because you’ve made more time, hopefully more time for your family or an occasional self-indulge day. Even if you just clear one room, or maybe even one trash bag full, you’ll begin to feel the effects. If you’re too busy to take a full day, or perhaps you have kids running around you 24/7, then just make a point to find 1 thing, 5 things, 10 things, or whatever you feel comfortable with, to get rid of everyday until you’re free!
What have you been busy dealing with lately?