So where does Idleness come in?
Well during this busy busy year there have been a number of points when we have realised that change had to happen. that leading this busy life is not what we want for our family and not what we enjoy and not sustainable for us for any length of time with out some sort of implosion. There have been a number of times when various family members have had meltdown moments this year and while I think they are occasionally unavoidable I believe they can be reduced.
The trouble with busyness is that it creeps up on you. You start with a life you are coping with and then something else comes along that you want to do, or feel obliged to do or just have to do. So you add it into your life and you time gets squeezed a little but it’s okay because next month it’ll quieten down. Then one or two more things creep in and suddenly you are not really coping, things get missed, you keep smiling but under the surface the cracks begin to show. You keep doing things but not so well and don’t give them enough time and the important things (not the urgent ones) start to disappear – playing games with the kids (you’re too tired), reading stories (can’t one of the older children do it), having a conversation with hubby (no lets watch House instead) – and you start to resent doing even the things you previously enjoyed and wanted to do. Irritability levels rise, budgeting gets worse (no time for planning so we just rush to the local shop and buy something more expensive to eat), relationships suffer.
So in the midst of busyness we have had some revelations about our lives .
The first was about Sundays we changed them and honestly I think if we hadn’t we would never have got through this year as well as we have. If we don’t manage to get a proper Sunday now we really miss it and feel the difference – what with festival and camping etc we haven’t had a proper Sunday for a few weeks, I’m really really really looking forward to the one coming up. All we have planned is to go to church and then go for a walk with a long leisurely lunch in between but I am really looking forward to it. I find that because we don’t do any work (including housework etc.) I don’t worry about anything much and I really relax.
Holidays are the next thing that has impacted our lives. Our trip on the Norfolk Broads which I haven’t blogged properly but you can have a taster here and an insight into how even a holiday isn’t straight forward for us here. Was wonderful. We really did very little for a whole week. Having said that we walked, birdwatched, cooked, played games, discussed issues, read, shopped in little villages, learned about using the boat, read maps , took photographs etc. But the pace was slow and gentle and the activities ones we wanted to do at the time.
It reminded me of how our home education used to be. We all learned lots from each other (Ruth was our bird expert having done some bird zoology this year) but in a completely relaxed and informal way. Martin and I knew we needed a restful holiday rather than an experience style holiday what I hadn’t realised was how much Rebekah needed it too. She loved doing nothing and as it was only a couple of weeks before her RS exam she really appreciated the break.
This time of rest told us that we had really been far to busy and that we needed to incorporate more rest into our lives! Shortly after arriving home we booked another holiday on the Broads for October – so we can look forward to more complete rest then!
We also knew we had to stop rushing about so against our money-saving principles which say we have to get our money’s worth out of every mainland trip we decided that our trip to Greenbelt in August would be just that rather than going on to zigzag across the country going visiting every friend we have ever made. While at some points in our lives that would be the right and good thing to do just now we need to rest some more and do less.
Camping has had a bit of an impact too. We went to Corf camp with the LZ a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t want to go, I had to go to work twice in the week, Martin needed to get three days work in. It was going to be bitty and unsettled and I just didn’t want to go. The children did though, so off we went (if 4 days after the start). Arriving we found we were sharing our camping area with 3 good family friends and a lovely new family. I felt immediately relaxed and chilled out. Martin took a little longer but spending a whole day chatting with Dave only moving to follow the shade around the gazebo. The simplicity of being at the campsite – no email, not worries about what I needed to wear, no washing to do (OK we were storing that up but never mind). Nothing to worry about but whether the milk was still cold and had the kids had enough to drink. That break was also much needed, it seemed to be that everyone I was with needed it. I had taken the How To Be Idle book with me and was enjoying doing nothing – although I also made my first proper friendship bracelet and went for my first kayak – Martin was enjoying sitting around chatting to Dave – another bookLiving Simply by Fiona Castle was being passed around the group like the chocolate gets passed around in the twilight. So there seemed to be a bit of a theme going on. We loved the relaxing simplicity of it even if we had to come backwards and forwards for work.
The other thing that has come up is one of the Cafe Church topics. we watched the Nooma video Shells. It’s well worth watching whatever your religious persuasions. Our theme was Too Busy Too…. Which was ironic really, talking from our experience rather than talking from a position of having got it sorted. Watching this Nooma really made me stop and think (well they all do but this one was timely). I know that just because something is a good thing to do it doesn’t make it the best thing to do for me and my family and the life we want to live. Applying that is more difficult though.
Reading How To Be Idle is just confirming much of what I have been thinking. Naps are not bad. Stopping now and then through the day for 20 mins to have tea with martin and sit in the garden is a refreshing and renewing thing to do. Spending time laughing and enjoying friends is a good way to live. Rushing about doing more and more may not actually get more things of import done. Not rocket science but nicely confirming.
So where are we now – we are heading towards the summer and a break from regular activities. We’ve called a three line whip against doing any regular activities through the summer, maths is an exception I’m afraid as it won’t get completed by November otherwise and church is because that’s integral to who we are and how we lead our lives. But nothing else regular. We want to spend the time just resting and getting ourselves back together. Also having had a break we hope we will find it easier to decided which things we want to take up again (or anew) in September with clearer heads and more idea about our whole life and also how much time we want to be able to have to rest and relax in and just live in.
Just don’t ask me about how busy the next two weeks are though!