This summer I hope you are enjoying a respite from the school-year grind. At our house we are spending lots of time in the pool, going to park concerts, and making trips to the library for summer reading. This year my kids talked me into participating in two different library summer reading programs. They just can’t get enough of those cheap plastic toy prizes! They are also getting free kids’ meal prizes. I am not complaining about having to cook less dinners.
Carefree summers are wonderful. We all know, however, that a busy autumn is around the corner. Many homeschool parents plan for the fall during the summer months and some may even take a whole day or a whole weekend away to do this.
Recently I have been thinking about the concept of busyness, thanks to a book called Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung. If you have a bit of time this summer—in the midst of family fun and homeschool planning—I would recommend reading it! It has definitely challenged my thinking about what being busy in a healthy context should look like.
As an extrovert, I love having lots of things going on, and lots of people to see and things to do. But there is a difference between being healthfully busy and being consumed by that crushing, overwhelming feeling of busyness, when you know full well there is not enough margin in your life.
Crazy Busy author DeYoung notes that we can be “so busy with a million pursuits that we don’t notice the important things in life slipping away.” Lesser things can definitely crowd out our main priorities when we are busy!
One of the reasons we take on so many things is pride, says DeYoung. Pride manifests itself in people-pleasing, wanting pats-on-the-back, pity, power, perfectionism, prestige, poor planning, etc. When we find ourselves to be too busy, we should ask ourselves why we are doing the things we are doing. Ask: “Am I trying to do good, or make myself look good?”
We should know our priorities and our boundaries before we commit to taking on projects or attempting to do “good works” for others. We should not allow other people’s expectations, or guilt, determine our priorities. If we don’t set our own priorities, other people will set them for us.
There was a very insightful chapter on parenting in this book that struck a chord with me as a homeschooling parent. Basically, the author states that we need to stop freaking out about our kids.
“Parenting has become more complicated than it needs to be,” the author states. “It’s harder to ruin kids than we think and harder to stamp them for success than we’d like.”
Kids nowadays are hovered over by parents in ways that previous generations wouldn’t even recognize. In Ellen Galinsky’s Ask the Children survey, what kids wished for most was that their “parents were less tired and less stressed.”
“Could it be that we have made parenting too complicated?” author DeYoung asks. “Isn’t the most important thing not what we do but who we are as parents? Kids will remember our character before they remember our exact rules regarding television and Twinkies.”
The author also points out that child rearing is hardly the main theme of Scripture. God doesn’t provide for many specific instructions about the parent-child relationship, except that parents teach their children about God, discipline them, be thankful for them, and not exasperate them. Filling in the details depends on the family, the culture, the Spirit’s wisdom, and a whole lot of trial and error.
We can’t avoid being busy with our children, but we can avoid freaking out about them quite so much!
At the end of the book, DeYoung notes that, as Christians, we are actually supposed to be busy people. We are supposed to be working, serving, bearing one another’s burdens, etc. But “the busyness that’s bad is not the busyness of work, but the busyness that works hard at the wrong things.”
So, it’s okay for me to be busy, even very busy, during certain phases of life, but Crazy Busy reminded me to make sure I am busy for the right reasons.
Photo Credit: Second photo by Amy Koons.