Winning the Busy Contest

At this very moment, there is a contest raging in cities, towns and suburbs all across America. Not a contest of strength, endurance, or athleticism; not a contest of skill, intellect, or talent; not a contest of wealth or power. Whether they know it or not, many modern mothers have been entered into a busy contest.

With the winding down of the school year, the months of May and June can be packed with year-end recitals, sports tournaments, PTO wrap ups, year-end picnics, graduations, planning for the summer, planning for the next school year. The list goes on. All on top of typical family homework-housework-sports-and-activities routines. It’s enough to make a modern mother’s head spin. When she overhears rapid fire accounting of busy-ness passing as conversation ("Things are just sooooo crazy!), it’s enough to make her realize that sadly, the contemporary stereotype of the frenetic family is all too true.
What could possibly be behind all this busy-ness? And why would anyone want to glorify it? In a bygone era, one celebrated success and prosperity by lolling about on the French Riviera, or at the very least relaxing on the porch with a mint julep. But in today’s world, a tycoon keeps a busy schedule. Oprah, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, they all seem so busy. In today’s world, busy is status. And so the modern mother must keep with the times and stick to her schedule. But must she?

While there may be a variety of mother who smugly equates busy-ness with quality of life, viewing a packed schedule as a sign of success, prosperity, or a thriving family life, we suspect that many of our gentle readers may feel “crazy busy” to the point of being overwhelmed during this end-of-the-school-year season, wondering how exactly did things get this way? What can she do to make it stop?

Though we really don’t have big answers to these big questions (been pretty busy, you know), we can offer a few thoughts on coping with the frenetic feelings of spring. First, do not compete in the busy contest; do not engage in discussions of busy-ness -- your own, your neighbor’s, or Oprah’s. It will only make you feel more anxious. Should someone begin to enumerate her own busy-ness, suppress any impulse (however momentary) to "one-up" her by detailing your own crazy schedule. Second, keep things in perspective. If you’re crazy busy because you have an appointment for a haircut, followed by a thank-you-for-volunteering luncheon, followed by ferrying kids to various and sundry activities, that’s still a pretty nice life, even if it is hard to find time to squeeze in a work out. Finally, like so many things in motherhood, this too shall pass. The sleepless nights of parenting a newborn, the willful tantrums of toddlerhood, and the “crazy busy” season that is spring and fall for parents of school- age children.

With the onset of summer, a well mannered mother can say good bye to the spring busy contest, and hello to the “time for more sunscreen” season, the "sure, you can have a hot dog again" season, or the "maybe, possibly, have time to read a book" season. May we recommend CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap!, by Edward M. Hallowell?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So true. You nailed it. Gotta run. Crazy busy these days!

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