The cult(ure) of busy

I know, I'm not supposed to support the culture of busy.  We as a society are too busy, too scheduled, and we glorify it. Our nation tends to equate being busy to being productive.  Why would be stay at home and relax when we could be DOING.  If we don't DO enough of the THINGS we will die sad and unfulfilled.  Right?

I fought against it.  I read the living slowly books.  I took time to let my toddlers follow the ants across the sidewalk for hours at a time.  Every autumn I would bundle them off to the park and river for leaf walks, carefully collecting and pressing those foliage prizes like precious memories that could be preserved forever.  Ah bliss.

Oh how things change.

These children I now have want to DO ALL THE THINGS.  I try to limit them - one athletic endeavor, one other activity per child.  Not too bad, I can handle that.

Ok, but violin lessons don't count because that's music and school, right? And quasi-school doesn't count either, because that's school and my only day off.  Surely therapy doesn't count, even if it is six or so times a month, because it's THERAPY.  And, oh, that ONE additional activity is 4H and has about a million subactivities.  Maybe not a million, but approximately four weekly practices.

And now, here we are, busy.  Me, the person who wants to curl in a ball on the couch and do nothing for days on end is engulfed in chaos.  So much is going on that I have cling to those moments at home for dear life lest they fly past me.  I don't try to venerate busyness, I loathe it.  And yet here I am, out three nights a week, a couple weekdays along with every Saturday and many Sundays, schleping kids to activities.

And I have to work, because, well, we like eating and living indoors.*  That sends me out of the house a couple days a week too.

Each of these activities have value.  They all promote something in them that I love seeing develop.  Responsibility, confidence, self esteem, sportsmanship, education, team work, leadership...the list goes on.  As much as I'd like to cut some of this craziness out of my life, I think I'll simply continue to be busy for the next 6-8 years at which time I can retire to my blanket fort and play solitaire.

For now though, I live for them, and their life is, well, busy.


* Please don't tell me if they didn't have the activities I could stop working.  I barter to pay for some, some other things are free..  4H is cheap, really cheap.  Therapy is necessary.  Stopping everything would not save vast amounts of money, certainly not nearly my pay.


  • Andi Brunson-Williams | May 9, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    I have spent a lot of time listening to the 'outer' voices telling me how I am creating my own busy, how it is in my control, etc.... Then I just get busy feeling bad for not having the non-busy life I crave. Busy isn't always desired or changeable by those who experience it. I am trying now to just be at peace with the business and allow myself to not worry that I am doing too much. I am controlling what I feel I can, and letting the voices be drowned out by the rest of the busy.
    Children equal busy, regardless of how many activities they do or don't participate in.

  • Deanna | May 10, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    It's interesting you brought this up. I was just telling Amanda C. that I was having a panic attack because we skipped swim last night, and I felt too relaxed. I am finding, as we wind down from this insane year, that I may be have forgotten how not to be busy. That scares me a little. Also, I think somewhere inside me I am afraid that if I am not busy all of the time, I will not be able to pull it together next fall for school again.

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