Who else relies on their calendar to keep their life straight? My calendar sits open on my kitchen desk 7 days a week (yes I still use a paper calendar). But for two weeks over the Christmas holidays, it was closed inside a drawer and I felt the freedom of a schedule-free life. Now the holidays are officially over and we are back to real life in all of it’s scheduled glory. While I do enjoy the predictability of an organized calendar, I definitely look forward to the laid-back weeks of vacation in-between. But the last two weeks of freedom from the daily grind were not long enough for me to miss the routine. In fact, as they came to an end I was questioning our entire lifestyle. Are we too busy? And as the calendar is back in its place on the desk, I am left wondering if the schedules we’ve created are helping or hurting our family dynamic.
With three kids in school and activities, our family is busy. However I don’t wear that title—busy—like a badge of honour. I never wanted our calendar to be bursting with activity. I didn’t have babies thinking about waking up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning—every Saturday morning—to get to the soccer field for the first game of the day. Nor did I think about needing to schedule in family time. I had my babies thinking about family game nights and quiet weekends reading or playing in the backyard. Essentially I wanted to be a family straight out of a Hallmark movie—it’s possible my expectations were a little high.
However, when I had three young kids at home with me, I was their world and we did things on our own time. Now they are growing up and slowly creating three little worlds independent from mine—worlds where we go by schedules set by schools and organizations. They are little people who have talents, ideas and ambitions. And we want them to explore and develop their passions—partly because there is hope that keeping them busy doing things they love will help keep them away from gangs, drugs and all the other terrible things that lurk inside a mother’s mind when she is laying awake at night. But we also all value the things I imagined when we started having kids.
We value regular visits with grandparents, movie nights on the couch, full days spent in pajamas and dinners that are eaten all together at the kitchen table. Not to mention time to just be alone. And until this year’s holiday slow-down, I thought we had created balance. Now I’m not so sure.
For two weeks there was little pressure to fit everything in. Games happened spontaneously. We read books during daylight hours. It became widely accepted to stay in pajamas from morning to night. And when we were given the space to enjoy these things at our own pace, I realized we have lost the feeling of freedom that should come with regular down-time. Instead, everything from game nights to weekly grandparent visits have become another thing we have to do—a burden to fit into our calendar. Again, I’m left wondering, are we too busy?
I don’t like that.
Unfortunatley though, I don’t have the answers and I know you don’t either. We are just all doing the best we can to create memorable childhoods and decent humans—whatever that means to you. Is my family sacrificing too much of our free time—our Hallmark family moments—to organized sports, music lessons and activities? I really don’t know.
What I do know is we can’t have 52 weeks of Christmas-vacation-style-non-scheduled-happiness. That isn’t even what I’m looking for. I’m just a mom looking for balance and hoping that in-between school years, soccer seasons and the schedules of five people’s worlds, we can somehow make up for the busy seasons of life.