“If you knock on my door today, you WILL see me in my pjs, no matter what time it is.”
Busy. It’s a state of life we don’t believe is meant for our family. We have an unwritten (but often spoken) rule that if we ever hear ourselves say that we’re too busy, we’ll immediately eliminate some commitments.
There are, however, short periods of time we simply can’t avoid busyness. This happened for us last week, and it fell on the first week in months that we didn’t have four nights (and a Saturday) of soccer. I don’t think I would have survived had this busyness landed during our soccer season.
This period of busyness also happened to land on week ONE of the dreaded NTC. Not only did we have normal life to attend to (school, chores, and our normal commitments), we also had to prepare for dad to leave, say goodbye to him, and adjust to a new normal. And then we had several other things pop into our lives that were immediate and important. Just when I thought I might lose my mind my oldest son, Hayden (14 in May), he reminded me of my own rule. He said, “Maybe you should learn to say, “No.” He was right. I mentally ran through my calendar to see what we could possibly cancel. There was only one thing that I could eliminate from the list: eye exams. Five eye exams in a row… 30 minutes each… My son had just recouped two-and-a-half hours of my life!
Everything else was important enough to stay in place. I had four hours of meetings on Monday that I needed to attend, for an organization I am head-over-heals in love with… PWOC. I wanted to be there, and I made it happen. We watched a little girl one day while her baby brother, who had just had brain surgery, was in the hospital; we volunteered at our youth group on Friday and Saturday, because they needed help, and also because it was a fundraiser for camp the boys’ summer camp.
I felt busy. I jokingly told our youth pastor’s wife that if anyone knocked on my door on Monday they were going to find me in my pjs no matter what the time of day. That I might even put a warning sign up that stated this fact, and if they knocked anyway, they deserved what they saw: me in an oversized tee-shirt, a pair of faded pj pants, hair unfixed, and make-up nonexistent.
I am going to guard tomorrow with all I have because I am not at my best for my children when I am busy. I am not a good friend when I am busy. I don’t even really LIKE ME when I’m busy. So tomorrow my kids and I will do school. That’s it. We’ll probably play some games, watch a movie, eat popcorn, and they will probably play outside. (I won’t because I’ll be in my pjs and that would be a little awkward for my neighbors.) We will recover from a week of busyness, and from having to say good-bye to daddy. Sure, it’s only four weeks, a fact I have happily reminded myself of for the past few months, but it’s still a separation. Our recovery will not only benefit us in the immediate, it will also fill us with what we need to handle the situations that may be coming in the future. We want to be well rested so that if another family needs us to help out spontaneously, our tanks will be filled and ready, not drained and running on fumes.
The busyness of last week is over. We are about to head back into our (new) normal of relative calm. What do you do when you are faced with an overwhelmed calendar? How do you recharge? Have you learned to say no when you need to? Have you ever noticed you aren’t at your best when you’re too busy?
I pray that you will take comfort in the thought that to be a blessing to others you must be well rested. Psalm 91:8 says that those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Rest. Say no when you need to. Eliminate unnecessary activities. Aim to keep your normal life from being “busy” and notice the stress that busyness creates. Short, occasional bursts are going to happen, but a lifestyle of busyness is unhealthy for most people.
And if you come to my door and see a sign that I’m in my pjs, know that you have been warned. You deserve what you see if you knock and wait for me to come to the door! I make no apologies for that.
Jennifer Hamrick is the proud wife of an Army Chaplain and the mother of four soccer-playing boys. When she’s not homeschooling she’s writing, reading, teaching FPU, or taking photos of still life, since her boys are too active to easily capture any more.