Sunday, March 24, 2013

Just Cancel

Ever feel like your life has become over-scheduled?  Sometimes it seems like every moment is committed and there has only been enough free time leftover to sleep.  I had been feeling that way the past few weeks and I had noticed a big change in my kids' behavior.  I wondered if maybe they, too, were feeling the strain of constantly being on the move.

On the days that are planned, most of my morning is spent packing lunch and/or snacks, getting everyone dressed, walking the dog, getting everyone in the car and, if we have time, doing a little bit of school work.  In my mind, I am focused on the list.  "Ok, the snacks are packed.  Shoot, I forgot drinks.  Does Luke have his shoes on?  Wait, where are my keys?"  You get the drift.  Meanwhile, my boys are either asking me questions or arguing with each other about sharing some coveted toy.   Each time they talk to me or fight with each other, my mental list is derailed and my frustration mounts.  By the time we are in the car I am so wound up that I need a few minutes just to get myself back to baseline.

I have tried doing things the night before, I have tried to relax in the middle of it and tell myself it's ok if we are a few minutes late.  But I still get nuts at least half of the time.  Small children have no sense of urgency.  None.  And I realized that I could either see that as a blessing or a curse.  After all, that feeling disappears as we age.  Why would I want to rob it from them already?
So I started canceling.  I canceled play dates, cut out a dinner obligation, eliminated story time at the library...anything that was optional was canceled.  For the past week we have laid low and I am seeing the difference in my boys and in myself.  

I still have many of the same things to do in the morning but I'm not worried about anything being accomplished on a time table.  My oldest spent two days in pajamas this week.  The usual night time bath was taken at 10 AM because they were filthy from playing in the mud.  We found a snake skin in the dirt and learned about snakes.  We decided on a whim to make cupcakes my son saw on a magazine cover.  We have freed ourselves from the restraints of a schedule.

There are still obligations in our lives just as I'm sure there are in yours.  But there is nothing wrong with canceling and giving yourself or your children a breather.  Do they really need to take that extra class or would they be better off at home exploring their own imaginations?  Do you really need to go to that amusement park this weekend or would they be just fine at your community park?  If you find yourself frenzied, just cancel.  I won't tell.

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