Confession: I’m an over-scheduler. I’m my own worst enemy, I know. I see an empty slot in the diary and I fill it. This might not be much of a problem, you’d think, but my rampant over-scheduling the past few weeks has left me frazzled which, in turn, has had an impact on family life. To be honest, family life has been a bit non-existant.
We’re coming to the end of a very busy period. I’ve had work deadlines stacked up, which I’ve been juggling alongside a gazzilion and one other commitments. Weekends booked up with helping out at various charity or community events, hosting friends to stay, playing catch-up with never-ending work deadlines and attempting to do some major home renovations. It’s all a bit too much, really. Especially when you factor in the every day treadmill of busy family life – laundry, school runs, after school clubs, baby groups, cleaning food off the floor (constantly).
Some people thrive on cramming activities into every available moment, squeezing productivity, adventure and social opportunities into every waking second. While I’m all for grabbing life with both hands, I think there’s a balance to be struck that is easily lost if, like me, you’re one of life’s over-schedulers. Saying yes to everything can mean you fail to really savour all those experiences, for example. I know I’m often guilty of losing what’s happening in the moment because I’m too busy looking ahead to the next thing.
My over-scheduling meltdown moment happened last week. After a hectic morning involving mum duties and school runs, followed by a baby swimming lesson, urgent work emails and a last minute trip to the shop before a friend came over for lunch, I realised I’d lost my wallet. I’d been so busy thinking ahead to the next thing on my To Do List that I’d absent-mindedly left it in the trolley at the supermarket. An easy mistake to make, but not something I’d have done if my head hadn’t been so fit to bursting with jobs and I hadn’t been in such a rush.
It took me a full 24 hours to realise my mistake, at which point I ended up crying with relief when I retraced my steps back to the supermarket (baby in tow) to find my wallet had been handed in. I felt so cross with myself, but relieved that I hadn’t absent-mindedly left something more important in the trolley, like the baby.
The week continued to be a busy one – helping out at the school fayre on Friday, running a stall to try and sell some of the baby stuff on Saturday morning, finishing a piece of work on Saturday afternoon, having friends over on Saturday night… Sunday morning arrived like an oasis in a vast over-scheduled desert. Free, empty, with absolutely no plans on the horizon and no one to please but ourselves. We basked in every non-committed second, enjoying a leisurely family walk, a family movie in the afternoon and a quiet home cooked meal. There were no tantrums yesterday. Not one.
It made me realise this is what we need more of. We moved to Devon almost two years ago, for a better quality of life. But there are still so many places right on our doorstep that we’re yet to explore, because we never seem to have enough time.
So Christmas this year is going to be at home. For the first time in six years we’re spending the entire holiday at home with no visits to family or friends and no one coming to stay. We love our family and our friends, but we’re in desperate need of some time cocooned up just the four of us. Days at home with hot chocolate and the log fire burning. Family days out exploring the area we’ve called home for the past two years. Empty days with nothing but the opportunity for impromptu fun and spur of the moment plans.
On Sunday I spent a lovely hour reading stories with Frog and playing. That’s another thing that’s been sorely lacking from downtime recently, because I’ve been so bloody busy. We curled up and read Socks for Santa by Charlotte Gullaine and Lee Wildish, Pop Out and Play Nativity Story by Holly Sterling and The Little Christmas Tree by Rachel Elliot.
After we’d read the books we played with the activities in them. Frog spent ages decorating the Christmas tree at the end of the Little Christmas Tree. I’m a bit of a Christmas purist and hate any mention of Christmas pre-December, but reading these stories and doing the activities in them started to spark those first festive tingles of excitement. It made up for the fact we weren’t putting our real tree up yet – unlike every other person in my Facebook feed.
I’m really looking forward to some more of this, with a better balance of down time and fewer commitments. In fact, I’m so ready for it I’ve decided to make an incredibly eary New Year’s resolution: give up the over-scheduling.
Anyone else with me?
Thanks to Egmont Publishing for sending us the books mentioned in this post.