Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed by just how busy my beautiful, but chaotic life has become. Before I’ve even had my (first) cup of coffee of a morning, I can feel the adrenalin running through my veins, fuelled not only by the caffeine but by the packed schedule that lies ahead of me that day. This feeling doesn’t stop, either. Even as I lay in bed at night, eyes gripped shut, mind racing; I listen to my Husband snore next to me and beg myself to fall asleep.
It’s an anxiety that has been building for some time but at this point in my life it has reached its peak. I am a wearer of many hats: Mother, Wife and Friend, just to name a few. Each one of these roles brings with it a sense of responsibility and an expectation that all these relationships can co-exist and thrive. But can they? Most of the time I feel as if I am doing a lousy job at all of them, my head bobbing up and down in the water, I could sink at any time.
I’m busy and there’s no denying it: there’s my kids nap schedules, social lives and activities. And of course there are the mundane but necessary daily tasks required to run a household, none of which I can keep on top of thanks to my darling two year old, who leaves a trail of destruction wherever she wanders. Then, there’s that issue of one on one time with my Husband (does a quick butt-grab as we cross paths in the kitchen count?). I didn’t think so.
And what about catching up with my friends? When the kids are around we can barely manage to finish our coffees while they’re still hot, let alone delve into an authentic, stimulating conversation about each other’s lives. Finally, fill in any gaps in my schedule with a bunch of other things I don’t really want to do, but say ‘yes’ to anyway, because I’m a chronic people-pleaser who feels too bad to say ‘no’.
Life feels like endless to-do list, jotted down on tiny scraps of paper sprawled around the house, a jumble in my head or in notes on my phone. I was recently discussing this topic of ‘busyness’ and my habit of list-making with a girlfriend who supportively replied, ‘if you don’t have a list, are you even living?’ But maybe the question is actually quite the opposite: are our lists, our packed schedules and our inability to say ‘no’ actually stopping us from living our BEST lives?
There is a movement currently gaining momentum on social media called #slowliving and a quick look on Instagram at the hashtag #theartofslowliving conjures feelings of calmness and simplicity in those tiny little squares: an overhead shot of a cup of tea and an open book, a sunset over the countryside, a bunch of flowers on a rustic farmhouse table, a close-up of a baby’s feet. It may sound corny, but it is these beautiful simple things, these beautifully simple moments that are continually overlooked as we race through our hectic days, weeks and years.
As a society, we seem to thrive on being busy. Some may even say that ‘busyness’ can be used as a measure of success. ‘I’m so busy’ is a phrase we hear every day; we wear it like a badge of honour. But what if we made the conscious decision to un-busy ourselves? If we were to simplify our schedule and take the pressure off a bit, would we feel better for it?
There is certainly nothing wrong with working hard, thriving on a routine or a having an enviable social schedule. But perhaps, as Women, we need to stop striving be the perfect Mother, Partner, Friend and to start saying ‘no’ to things, without the guilt, when life starts to feel like too much.
Maybe then, we will have the time to stop, sit down, and finish a hot cup of tea without thinking of the next item on our to-do list. Just do your best to drown out those inevitable toddler tantrums going on in the hallway, they don’t stop for anyone.