I’ve heard it at least five times this week.
I think it’s meant as a compliment–most of the time.
“You must be so busy with all the projects you have going on.” Or… “You do so much…how do you do it all?” Or even sometimes… “Your kids will only be small once so you better slow down with all the big things you have going on in your life.”
The last one is my favorite.
I have only the simplest intentions–to encourage those of you who need it. But, each family is different and is called to live differently and I can only speak for our life, our home, and what works for us.
We’ve talked about it before: intentional living. About saying no, and slowing down. The truth is this: Matt and I don’t live the typical thirty-something American life. It isn’t that our life is completely abnormal, because we’ve also chosen to create our normal. We choose to choose still…it is a daily choice to create the life you so desire.
This post will probably ramble a bit before I find a rhythm, because I can’t quite decide exactly what my purpose for writing it is. Maybe it’s because I’m home alone this weekend, and quiet time is rare and fleeting, and the silence stirs a need to write. Maybe it’s because I’m in the middle of some difficult decisions, and for the life of me, I can’t decide why I’m so driven to do and driven to be (because those are two entirely separate drives and often times conflict with one another greatly).
I do know this, however. There was a time when I felt tossed to and fro and I felt tired, busy, and frustrated. I longed for quiet mornings and more travel and less hurry. I longed for more and less of so very much. Of less dashing and more dreaming. I was worn out. And quite simply, our family chose a different path. It’s not a path that guarantees more simple living, but we are in the throws of the choosing. Every. single. day.
So are you.
I’ve chosen to get “busier” the last six months or so, and like it did before, that tide has caught up with me, slamming me into a storm of agitation and weariness. Do you ever feel that way? Do you even recognize if you do?
I think that’s part of the rub.
Our culture is so alluring and consuming and it takes almost a near-death experience for us to realize the finality of our choices and how fleeting this gift called life truly is. It takes mountain moving events, and life altering winds for our roots to dig down, to anchor.
We don’t know what we’re missing until it’s already gone.
We rush from birthday party to party to play to game to a new a sport to gymnastics to PTO to work and hang our hats at home for a few hours only to start all over again the next day. We get the kids down at a decent to semi-decent time only to collapse beside one another and we basically grunt at our spouses due to how tired we are.
Our lives move too quickly. If we’re not careful, they’ll move on without us.
I’m going to fill you in on a secret about the pace of your life.
Are you ready??
It’s all up to you.
I’m serious. It is. I didn’t always know this. There was a day when I thought we had to do the mad dash in the morning, that we had to travel less, that we had to go to a certain church, that we had to, had to, had to.
Holy exhausting roller coaster, batman.
I want to tell you that while I respect that there are certain parts of life we must endure, how we endure them is very much in our hands. It takes rethinking, and retraining our brains to live life as we want.
I’ve written about it before…why not?
There are times in your life when you feel a nudge, an inexplicable urge to change, to do something differently. God is often most present in my heart during those times. It’s Him I’m hearing, who’s pushing me.
Because I’ve gotten lots of emails in regards to our decision to homeschool/how we do what we do and I think it would be impractical and preach-y to give lists of things to do to slow down or change your lifestyle, I thought I’d share what was working for us, and what wasn’t, and how our days look a little different now. That way you can identify how it works for us, and maybe even some will understand the “how” because you’ll definitely get a glimpse of all I don’t do.
Spring of 2012, Things That Stressed Me Out:
- the early rise-get ’em out the door dash ( i know this probably sounds silly, but i felt like a cattle herder)
- the million fundraisers & sheets to sign & stuff to turn in on top of my work
- well, gray was struggling with some bullying, so of course, that stressed me out (p.s. i’m sure he did his fair share of bullying too)
- never being done with work by 2:30
- the guilt i felt for not being done by 2:30
- trying not to work after 2:30
- not traveling with Matt…ever.
- the take them, drop them off, feel guilty about work, cook fast dinner, corral papers, bedtime, and repeat nature of it all
- i felt like i was running, and couldn’t get in a work rhythm to complete a lot each day…this makes such sense now that i look back.
- no time for lengthy discussions with the kids, specifically about God. Not quick scripture reading, but long, slow conversation.
- the nagging feeling that i was somehow “missing” life. that i was running instead of savoring.
What We Wanted for our Family, Our Vision
- purposeful life–intentional choices, day in, day out
- time (I know that may seem strange, but we wanted more time to enjoy one another and life together)
- travel (loads of quick trips and cultural experiences for our family)
- to work alongside one another, children and all
- to instill practical, life lessons and business strategy and work ethic in our kids
- close knit family, but also keeping our home open to anyone who will come, mess and all
- less “activities” for more spontaneous living (for travel, for friends’ visits, for
Things We Chose to Do to Change Some of the Stressors:
- We decided to homeschool. (more thoughts below)
- We committed to live more purposefully with our time.
- We changed where we worshipped.
- We quit eating out–mostly.
- We adopted a more flexible schedule & lifestyle.
- Accepted that part of slow, long days with the kids meant they were with us through work, play, all day. Most days.
- Accepted that if I were going to run my business and homeschool, that I would have to hire some help with the kids/cleaning the house.
- Planted a garden each summer.
- Decided that it was okay to belong to just a couple of extra organizations–being involved at our church, schooling & shepherding our kids, and our personal mission work endeavors were enough to be involved in outside of family time and work.
- Decided that our work was part of our teaching to our children…we work alongside them.
- While we love movies & TV, we cut our cable and only watch Netflix/stream movies. iPads are off until 3 p.m. (most of the time), and we watch family movies together instead.
- Started saying no more often (this sounds kind of terrible but I’ll explain more )
These are just a few of the things that we did to create change in our day to day.
You see, while all those extra activities can be fun (it’s such a personal thing), for me, I found real joy when I was with my family, sharing experiences with them both old and new, doing good work alongside Matt, & working to inspire, encourage, and instill in our readers that home is a place you can love now, imperfections and all.
For us, that meant work is no longer a job, but more of a purpose. That make sense? And for me to savor time with my family, I needed to have them here, to be able to spend hours with them during the day when my schedule was flexible that particular week.
It can be crazy. It can be busy.
But we choose to live slowly, to take our time, and to take our kids alongside us. To do what we can in a day, enjoying it rather than rushing through it, and stopping work when it’s time to stop. Some days and weeks are easier than others, but for the most part, we’re very intentional about how we spend our time. We have a bit of a schedule, and to the outside world, I think it looks “busy.” For us, though, everything is pretty flexible and seems to ebb and flow at just the right times…when we stick to our intentional choices.
Feel free to ask us any questions in the comments about our schedule, and stay tuned for how we actually put into place our new normal…