The Glorification of Busy

The idea of schedules, for me, conjures up the idea of busy.

We are all so busy: There are groups; play dates; food shopping; outdoor activities; at home activities; laundry to do; pets to attend to; special occasions to consider; new experiences to research; library books to return; outings to organise; clothes to sort (why do they keep growing?); children’s requests to fulfill. There are lists everywhere (maybe that’s just me?)

Being busy is our default mode. We are constantly pushing on to the next thing. The next step, the next developmental milestone, the next event, the next thing on the horizon, the next job on the list.

It infiltrates from our practical list and infiltrates into our expectations for our children. We are continually wanting them to know more, learn more, be able to do more. We worry that they aren’t doing things that we think they should be doing, and we wonder what we can do to help them move on. There is internal struggle when our children call us to ‘slow down,’ when they pull us away from the treadmill of expectations, to sit with them in their present moment.

And there is shame when we are unable to complete what is on the list, when we haven’t managed to fulfil all the tasks. Even amongst those of us who question the busy and sit in the now, the silence, the inactive, there is the presence of guilt and the nagging voice of it not being enough. Somehow we have learned along the line to confuse our productivity with our worth, and our children’s activity with their worth.

The glorification of busy, pushes us body, mind, and soul towards ill health and unfulfillment. It ultimately benefits no one and delivers nothing short of an increasing number of targets and longer to do lists.

Our children, as is common in unschooling, lead us, once again, to challenge deeply held ideals that we didn’t know we had:

  • To sit in the moment;
  • To embrace what the now has to offer;
  • To allow the learning to unfold according to its own natural flow;
  • To take our gaze off of the next target;
  • To put on hold the next job;
  • To take control of the list;
  • To not have the list control us.

This means that practically we spend more time with our children:

  • Not concentrating on the enormous set of tasks before us but discerning those which are essential and fulfil a need.
  • Not spurring our children on to complete the task they are doing, but enjoying doing the task with them.
  • Not calling on themselves to better their skills but working with them at their pace.
  • Not diverting them to activities that have a set purpose but being at peace with whatever activity our children choose to do.
  • Not separating our daily tasks from our time with our children but integrating our responsibilities into our daily rhythms and weekly cycles.
  • Not committing to additional responsibilities until our children naturally need less of us but always being available for our children and putting them first.

It is once again time to listen to our children, to spend our time together, body and mind, concentrating on this moment we are in. To cease measuring ourselves based on how much we have accomplished and to focus on our connections and time spent with our children, regardless of what the activity is.

Published by heiditsteel

Teacher turned Unschooler: passionate about autonomous education and supporting our children's natural inclination towards learning through play.

2 thoughts on “The Glorification of Busy

  1. I really like this. It’s very easy to let the ‘To Do’ list get out of hand. I need to keep paring it back to the essentials, to give space for actually doing what we want to do!


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