So, recently our family has been learning about how precious life is and that people don’t only die of old age. It’s a challenge for my husband and I as grown adults, let alone for our children, who relate such “young” death to the age of their very own parents. Anyway, the point of such relaying suchcommunication about death is that it has got me reflecting on lifeand whether we are spending our time consciously engaging in life or just getting dragged along with the various pulls and expectations of the work and social communities with which we are engaged.
“We have a problem—and the odd thing is we not only know about it, we’re celebrating it. Just today, someone boasted to me that she was so busy she’s averaged four hours of sleep a night for the last two weeks. She wasn’t complaining; she was proud of the fact. She is not alone.” (Greg McKeown, 2014)
I remember a time when I subscribed to the undisciplined pursuit of more and I still do fall into that trap every now and again. It took me one long trip into mental illness, dragging my family with me, to realise that it’s not really a place I want or need to return to. That doesn’t mean that I don’t often feel a pang of guilt when I listen to other mums describe their children’s multiple weekly activities and long list of social appointments. Are we restricting our boys’ life experiences by limiting their formal outside activity engagement? I know sometimes they feel it when their friends speak about their varied sporting committment per week. There’s even a little sense of envy that we might be missing out on something, somewhere, and not keeping up with the Joneses.
I am also a huge advocate of encouraging teenagers into sport, especially at the vulnerable onset and experience of puberty, where many challenges, real and/or perceived, means that our youth are at heightened risk of disengaging from traditional childhood family and peer relationships. At least with sport they are still engaged with community, healthy lifestyle options and hopefully, less likely to engage in risk taking behaviour. I feared our restriction on our boys’ sporting activities could decrease their love and will to engage in it. Let’s just say, that was a less than a realistic fear. Anyone who knows our boys, know they live and breathe it.
We made a decision early to restrict our boys to one activity per week until secondary school. In retrospect, I think it has largely paid off, as we tend to be more organised to share in family time by dinner and they are so active anyway, it forces them to have down time. Plus, I have to be honest, I don’t know how those parents do it; I am exhausted as it is, working part-time, etc, etc, blah, blah, without transporting my children to an activity every second night.
So, we too, are joining the lemmings who are adopting “the disciplined pursuit of less, but better. A growing number of people are making this shift. I call these people Essentialists.” (Greg McKeown, 2014) Let’s hope in 5 years time, I am not writing a blog about families who do little of nothing all week and need to increase their community participation… That could be embarrassing… I want to mindfully engage in my life and my children in theirs. I am not saying we are great at it yet, in fact my husband is better at it than me by miles, but anyone who knows me also knows I love a challenge.
Anyway, for now I feel comforted and supported by Greg McKeown‘s thoughts on what he calls “Essentialism” and I call “the simple life”. Wish me luck as I begin my annual battle of ensuring it stays this way leading into what some refer to the festive season, but I experience as the albatross of religious tradition.
Why We Humblebrag About Being Busy by Greg McKeown | 9:00 AM June 6, 2014 http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/06/why-we-humblebrag-about-being-busy/