This past Saturday my daughter disappeared into her room. After a couple hours and still no sign of her, I knocked softly and then took a peek inside.
She was asleep. Her sketch book cradled in her arms, her pencil on the bedside table. She didn’t even stir when the door gave me away with a cRREEK.
Outside the chickens were gossiping. The sun was bright, filling her room with light.
But she was dead to the world – exhausted and finally getting some rest.
Her first week of school was tough. She had to get up every morning before 6 – before 5 on Wednesday for an early morning soccer practice. She had soccer practice after school and then homework.
Her schedule has certainly picked up as she’s entered high school (Welcome to the world of adults!)
But it hasn’t always been that way. And even now – compared to many of her peers – her routine is pretty straightforward. She doesn’t do a lot of socializing or spend time on Facebook. When she’s not at school she’s relieved and happy to have time at home with us.
And this weekend, after a demanding week, she was soaking it up.
Not your typical teenager.
Here’s the thing – (And please stick with me since I may get a little convoluted . . .)
This didn’t come from nowhere.
See, we live in world where our expectations of what we can squeeze into our lives has gone beyond the boundaries of sanity.
With new technology, we think we can fit even more in – stay in touch with more people, build more relationships, fit more into your schedule, get more tasks done, process more information.
Not only do we think we can do more. We feel bad if we’re not fitting more in.
It seems everyone around us has a list a yard long of what they manage to do each week. We compare notes and feel that unless we’re doing XYZ, we’re falling short. We’re sold on the idea that somewhere is the perfect app to make it all easier and doable.
We extend this expectation to our children. In fact the message has been that if you’re not fitting in playdates and karate practice and music class and more into your child’s day, you’re depriving them.
We’re under enormous pressure to schedule ourselves and our children silly.
But this isn’t what any of us need.
It took me a while to learn this hard lesson. In my 20′s and early 30′s I put a lot of busy-ness into my life because it made me feel good about myself. It made me feel good to list all the things I was doing each week. It made me feel good to go on and on about how busy my schedule was.
When it came to creating a busy social life, my parents had taught me that my value was not in the depth of relationships but in the number of friends I had (kind of a precursor to Facebook). We had three walls as you entered our house filled with photographs of friends.
And initially, when I became a mom myself, I thought this was also what our children needed – lots of friends and activities that made them respectable and valuable human beings.
But I’ll tell you, as I grew older and watched my parents’ marriage dissolve and witnessed how many of these supposed friendships didn’t go much deeper than a photograph, I started to realize that love, respect and friendship is not a game of numbers.
And self-worth is not found in all the things you do each day – but how you do the important things.
I found what really made me feel good about myself was the time I took to look at my life and then turn these observations into efforts to do better.
What really made me sit back at the end of the day and feel that incredibly huge, rich, deep feeling of goodness is the closeness I have with my children and husband . . . the hard-fought lessons I’ve learned about myself and started to apply step by step (albeit sometimes grudgingly, I confess) . . .
I can pause a moment after locking in the chickens at night, glance up at the moon, listen to the cicadas and then look over to the lit window in the home that holds the dearest people in my life and know that with care, effort and time I’ve made this possible. Yeah, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But I’ve also done a lot of fixing and building. Peace of mind.
It’s not the list of things I squeeze into my day. But the depth to which I live.
It’s been a hard lesson for me to digest. (In fact I’m still chewing on it and have to remind myself to chew.)
And it’s a lesson we desperately need to pass on to our children.
For when it comes to our children, what really fills their day and makes them feel happy, confident and ready for the world is not the number of things you fit into their schedule. Or the number of social events they’re invited to.
(And by the way they don’t need much in terms of things like ipods and cool shoes.)
What they really need is not much more than us – their parents.
And simply time at home. Really.
They don’t need to do lots of sports programs when they’re younger. Save that for 6th or 7th grade. Instead find ways to enjoy kicking a ball or throwing a ball together. If you want to learn something new – like rockclimbing, snowboarding or karate – learn it together. (And don’t try to learn too much at once!)
They don’t need a full calendar of playdates that requires a social secretary or gives them an inordinate amount of peer time. While they occasionally spend time with friends, my children’s main social life has been each other and us. And surprisingly enough, they’re happy, confident, and comfortable among their peers.
They don’t need big vacations, elaborate birthdays or even special summer trips to the amusement park.
Last week I urged you to find a way to schedule family fitness into your routine. Today I’m urging you to take things out of your family’s schedule so you can make time for the important stuff.
Ultimately, what I’ve witnessed in my own two children, my marriage, my personal development and in building my home business is that we need less on our schedule. Not more.
In order to take care of things well – whether it’s family, business or your personal growth – it takes time and effort. The more you pile on your plate, the less you’ll have to give to the core areas of your life. And the less chance you’ll have to craft something you can feel good about. That sustains you.
When I watched my daughter sleeping, I knew there’s not much I can do to pull back the increasing burden of obligations on her shoulders. Ultimately, nothing can change that growing up is tough. Life is tough. It’s full of challenges where you have to go beyond your comfort zone. And it’s up to her to find the where-with-all inside of her to build the life of her dreams.
But what I hope to pass on to her are these crucial understandings that will help her take on these obligations and succeed in managing them:
Choose what’s important to you.
Be ruthless in eliminating what is not so important to do.
And then do more.
Sarah Clachar has built a thriving health copywriting business from scratch while being a mom . . . nurturing a strong marriage . . . and running a small homestead farm. Along with a BA in biology, she’s got two decades of experience teaching and researching about natural health. Her articles have been published in Life Extension Magazine, Health, Mothering, A Taste For Life, Nutrition Business Journal, and Natural Foods Merchandiser.
Over the years, she became keenly aware how important strategically working to maintain her health was for her business. And even more importantly, how good health factored into enjoying the rewards of having a successful business.
At Your Healthy Home Biz, Sarah has combined her expertise in health and her experience running a freelance health copywriting business into a special resource for home biz owners, freelancers and solopreneurs. Your Healthy Home Biz provides inspiration and a system for transforming your workday so you can run your home business without running yourself into the ground.
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