Busy Busy Busy

No blog post for over a week! Well what can I say? Spring is in the air and the scent of wattle mixed with the clean sea breeze always makes me want to climb out of the cave of winter hibernation don my rubber gloves and commence a slightly obsessive compulsive cleaning regime.
That and the fact that I have a job, and maintain my usual schedule of school pick up and drop off, grocery shopping, preparing meals, mediating kids, washing clothes, adding them to The Pile :), refraining from killing or seriously maiming my children, feeding the animals because the kids never do, cleaning the bathrooms, running errands, volunteering for a local organisation, helping out at school and still finding energy for my husband when he comes home, means I have been busy. Yada yada yada. Woe is me.

Busy.
Truthfully, I don’t really believe that busy exists. I hate the very word. We hear it all the time. When you run into someone at the supermarket, or at the gym, and ask how they’re doing, the stock standard response is  

“I have just been so busy!”
“Busy, busy,busy.”
Crazy busy.”

And if they’re not ‘busy’ they’re “tired”

“So tired”
“Dead on my feet”
“Utterly exhausted”

The ‘tired’ is always the result of the ‘busy’. It is a boast disguised as a complaint. You’re life cannot possibly be considered mediocre or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy. To be booked out, in demand every hour of the day, and totally occupied every second means you are valuable. Doesn’t it?
Isn’t it a kind of assurance that you are necessary? That your contribution is worthwhile? That your existence is valued? Respected? Required?

Ever run into someone in the street and have them say “Well actually life is quite simple. I do what I have to do, like most people, but I get enough rest and I am relaxed and at peace.”
Nope. Doesn’t happen.

Why not?
Why are we, especially women, afraid to admit to a bit of down time? Why do we have to appear to be productive 24 hours a day?
If I told you that I sat down to watch the midday movie you would think I was lazy. Go on you can admit it. We have this desire to condemn anybody who wants to slow the pace a little. My belief is that we all slow the pace now and then, we just don’t admit to it.

We all find a way to do most of the things that we want to do. Whether it’s golf, shopping or yoga; or perhaps lunch with the girls, or volunteer work at the kinda, or taking a walk on the beach or even watching guilt inducing television. We all somehow squeeze it into our unsqueezable schedule. 
Yes, you do.
And when anyone asks we just have no time for such indulgence because we are just so busy.
God forbid someone think we are unproductive.

Trouble is our social media gives us away. I know you play Farmville and Diamond mine. I know you watch that reality TV show. I know you have spent the afternoon trolling YouTube because you posted 6 videos of cats playing pianos.
That’s cool, I do those things too, just please don’t insult my intelligence by telling me how ‘exhaustingly busy’ you are.

Busy is a myth that we perpetuate for two reasons.
One, to give ourselves an excuse to not do the things we are not doing. Things like visiting family. Or chasing our dreams. Or spending time with our kids. Or folding The Pile of washing.
Two, being busy is a status symbol. It is an outward portrayal of determination and tireless effort. It implies that you are important, an achiever, a real go-getter.

This frenzy is not the inevitable condition of life; it’s something we have chosen. It is a way of living that we collectively force upon each other.
And although it might not be as easy to un-choose it, it is the only way to live our truth. We can start by not leaving this legacy to the next generation. Not over scheduling our children to absolute exhaustion. I know kids who do swimming and cricket and drama and judo and chess club and piano and little ath’s and singing lessons too. I have to wonder if they have anytime to play in the dirt. Or catch frogs and crickets? Do they have anytime to get into trouble like kids should? Or time for doing nothing at all?
If we don’t teach our kids that it is OK to have some time to do absolutely nothing we are setting them up for the same cycle of guilt induced over activity that we, their parents, endure. At the very least it is the illusion of over activity that we endlessly create.

I, for one don’t want to live like that, so I chose not to. And only when I made the choice to leave the ‘How busy am I’ life behind did I begin to see the epidemic that it is. I have experienced women who have one child , and no job outside the home look me dead in the eye and tell me how crazy busy their life is. As though I could have no concept of what their day involves. I bite my tongue because there is no way to comment without sounding condescending.
Other times women would say to me ‘I don’t know how you do it, you must be so busy!” and once upon a time it was easy to smile and nod in agreement. But now I say ‘actually it’s not as difficult as people think’ because the reality is that it isn’t. And I will no longer perpetuate the myth.
I have, and always have had time to shower and use the bathroom by myself. At no time in my 11 years of mothering have I been so busy that finding the 5 minutes it takes to shower is impossible. At no time in my 11 years of mothering have I had to eat peanut butter crusts for lunch for lack of time to prepare something for myself. Not only do I have time to use the toilet in peace, but I also have time to put my feet up for a cup of tea. I have time to check my Facebook page. I have time to read a book or watch mind numbing television. I also have time to catch up with friends or exercise if I want to.
And I did when I was working full time too. And so do all of you.

We are all using every second of every hour of everyday of our lives. By that logic we are all busy and the very notion becomes redundant. We are choosing what we do with our time whether it be working or eating or sleeping or playing or relaxing. And the reality is that we all have time to do the things we want to do.
And that is why this is my first blog post in a week, not because I was ‘too busy’ to write, but because I chose to prioritise something else instead.

So, next time you feel yourself wanting to exasperatedly sigh with ‘I’m just so busy’, stop and think about whether it is a fact or a perpetuation of the busyness myth.

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4 Responses to Busy Busy Busy

  1. Pat says:

    You really do channel me Rachael. I am over ‘time poor’. Why did I feel lazy when knitting but a real champion when using sewing machine?? Why is reading a trashy novel better than watching quality television? Jen was always the child that needed to be challenged by her learning, therefore I was running her from one activity to another. Brendan only one activity at a time. Once again, loved the read.

  2. Irene Hansford says:

    I was one of those busy house proud women, now I have figured that when I am dead and buried did it REALLY matter that my floors were not the cleanest, that the basin had the odd stray hair in it or the stove had last nights dinner still splashed on it? Answer: NO. Is there a headstone out there with the epitaph on it “Here lies……….She had an immaculate home”, not to my knowledge. My home does not look like ferals live in it but now I only vacuum once a week, not once a day. I clean the stove once a week, not once a day. I still don’t have enough time to do what I want to do, but I do a whole heap more of what I want to do rather than what I feel I have to do.

  3. Jane says:

    Hi Rachael. Great writing once again. It always amuses me, the people that are always so/too busy. If you take the time to sit back and watch them they actually don’t achieve that much. I’m sure we all know/work with people that complain about being always soooo busy but in fact achieve little. If they stopped complaining they would achieve a lot more. You are right everyone needs a little me time. Otherwise what is the point of life. Keep up the great work. You give us all something to think about. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Life, Motherhood and Soap Operas | lifelovelunacy

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