I had a surreal moment last fall when I watched Jack trot down the sidewalk to his piano lesson in his Cub Scout uniform, with me in the car and a cooler packed so he (and the girls) could eat a sandwich in the car on the way to Scouts and Heritage Girls while Scott was in class. Wasn’t this just a little too much?
About this time last year I posted about how crazy our schedule was. We were doing many things, but not doing anything well. Busy-ness had become the white noise by which we lived. We’d begun to slip away from the things in our lives that mattered most- quality time with family and friends, serving and hospitality, healthy, homecooked meals and time for the children to play freely.
For some people, it’s not too much. But for our family in this season of life, we were losing ourselves in the process of keeping up and fitting in. I had to step back and look deeper into our motivations for doing all that we were doing. Why was I looking to have my children in clubs, teams and activites? Were they really benefitting? Was I letting guilt and fear be the reason we participated in things?
Early this year, I read Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. So much of the book resonated with me, inspired me, and affirmed me. The main point he makes is that children need to be given the grace to be children and not rushed into the ‘more! faster! earlier!’ mentality that has become the norm for our culture.
“I believe that simplifying a child’s daily life is one of the best ways to restore a sense of balance in parenting. By simplifying their toys and environment, their schedules, and the sense of rhythm and regularity, you allow them the grace to be a child… Simplifying acknowledges how a child comes to understand the world- through play and interaction, not through adult concerns and information. The pressure is off when childhood is no longer seen as an ‘enrichment opportunity’ but instead as an unfolding experience- an ecology- with its own pace and natural systems” ~Kim John Payne
When I look back to my childhood, my fondest and sweetest memories are of my backyard. We spent hours building forts, making sandbox cookies, swinging, digging, creating, imagining…. no internet, very little television, no electronics- all very simple and wide open. I want the same for my kids.
So this fall, we took a step of faith and decided to stay home. No scouts, no sports, no music lessons. I chose to release my fears of my children being behind because they missed one season or one year of instruction. This year, we needed to breathe. To focus on the heart of our home and relationships.
What we’ve gained is freedom. My children finish their lessons and have the freedom to be outside, to sit and read, to play without rushing. They are more relaxed, happy and at peace. We have the time to keep a friend’s young ones so she can have a lunch date with her husband. We can make a meal for someone just home from the hospital. Bedtime has become enjoyable instead of stressful. Having friends for dinner doesn’t mean giving up our one free night of the week. We can take a bike ride and soak in the fresh air and sunshine with nothing else on the agenda.
White space has replaced the white noise of being busy. Margins become the norm and not the exception. Our souls have room to rest.