Forcing My Way Out of the Busy Trap

About four or five years after moving into our current home we discovered a swarm of Yellowjackets had built a home in a hollow section of the frame of our house.  They were getting in and out where the siding no longer met.  Since their hive and pathway was on our front porch, we were concerned, especially since our kids were young and one of them seemed to attract yellowjackets. To remedy the problem, Steve sprayed what he could since we couldn’t see the hive and caulked the siding.  This didn’t take care of the problem. They chewed right through the caulking.  We called an exterminator.

The exterminator told me trapping an animal generally backfires because they will do everything possible to get themselves out of the trap.  He said he had seen homes where yellowjackets had chewed through drywall and come out inside the house.  Yikes!

Since January I have felt like the yellowjackets trying to fight my way out of a trap.  I created a work schedule that has left me working more hours than I have worked since my kids were born (actually this may be the most hours I have ever worked) as well as taking on other responsibilities.  Each job or responsibility has had its positives and I have loved each one, but together, they have been too much, which I posted about in the past.  I don’t do busy well. If you know me and my introvert personality, you know this about me.  I need lots of downtime and when I don’t give it to myself or I allow others to fill every moment, I suffer. I find myself backing away from the people I love to have a quiet moment alone.  In fact, I left school the other morning and seriously thought, “What if I checked into a hotel and spent the whole day and evening all alone?”  Yes, I think that question is a sign I am fighting to get myself out of a trap.

Last night I read this article by Tim Kreider in the New York Times about being busy, which I highly recommend everyone read. It really struck a nerve with me, especially the part about his friend moving to a smaller town due to expenses.  My husband who has also been way too busy mentioned again the other day how nice it would be to move somewhere smaller and quieter.  The minute he mentioned it, I felt my mind and heart craving that quiet town where I didn’t have to add traffic to my list of things to think about. The idea of living in a lower cost of living environment totally appeals to me.  It’s definitley something we have been considering for a few years and gets more appealing all the time.

I have been very lucky in that most of my life has allowed me to be who I am with lots of downtime.  Before we had kids our life was fairly quiet.  We both finished college and then found jobs.  Although both of us work hard, neither one of us is an overachiever which meant we limited our hours at work to have time together at night.  When Alexander was born, I quickly figured out I was not a full time working kind of momma and was able to go part time in the middle of the school year. (No, we couldn’t afford it, but we took the chance.) When Sophia was born, we moved out of state and I stayed home with the kids full time until she was around two years old.  Then I found a job teaching at the community college two evenings a week after my husband got home.  While many moms with young kids are always on the go, my kids grew up believing a successful day was a day we didn’t have to get out of our pajamas.  I still believe that to be true and strive to have that perfect day. I find it interesting that as my kids begin to think about their future professional lives, they are making down time a huge consideration. I love that!

 Down time just seems to be a very important part of who I am. When I honor that part of me, everything about life is good.  Down time suits me well. The next month should be fairly quiet with lots of time to hang out with my family as well as time for my mind to not have to be on constant alarm.  It needs this time away from constantly worrying about the next thing on my “to do” list.  One of my favorite quotes from Kreider’s article is, Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. ”   Yes!  Idleness is not being lazy.  It is being good to yourself.  It is when the best of me comes out strong.

What I have missed most about not having idle time:

  • Being home when my kids wake up.  This is the time they share the most about everything.  This has always been our special time to reconnect.  I know they have missed this time together also.  
  • Baking.  After a crazy day with homeschooling activities, baking muffins or a cake was my way of unwinding. Eating them was always good too!
  • Blogging and reading blogs.  
  • Enjoying a pot of tea at my desk rather than on the go.  I even found myself waking early some mornings without an alarm just to sit at the computer and sip on tea – another way my mind was trying to break out of the trap.
  • Having time to take a longer walk in the morning if I choose to.
  • A clean house.  Cleaning for me has many benefits besides a clean house. This is often when I get my best mind down time.

What about you?  How do you spend downtime?  Do you think it is necessary for you?

For another look at slowing down check out RA Guy’s post here.

Thankfully Izzy gets me up and out walking every single morning.
 This is my one constant mind release everyday. 

6 thoughts on “Forcing My Way Out of the Busy Trap

  1. Carla

    I think “trap” is the perfect word because it is so easy to get lured into overcommitting, and it's darned hard to get out of it. I see so many kids that can't spend a quiet minute and it's wonderful that you've instilled the joy of down time in your children.


  2. I completely agree, Cathy – downtime is so important. I sometimes catch myself feeling guilty when I'm “idle,” but I try to remind myself that it's necessary for me to be, and feel, my best.

    I'm just coming out of a couple of extremely busy months, when I feel like I've hardly been home at all. I've been at work every day and away somewhere most evenings. I'm looking forward to having time to read, drink tea, exercise and fit more music into my life. And, like you said, clean! I find cleaning very calming (and of course I'm looking forward to a tidy apartment, too!).


  3. “What if I checked into a hotel and spent the whole day and evening all alone?”

    I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've thought something like that. I've even gone so far as to look into rates for a day or two in a remote cabin. So yes, downtime is very important to me.

    Maybe downtime isn't quite the right word, because I do enjoy being industrious and productive much of the time. I think solitude is a better word for me. I just need my time all by myself, and if I don't get it, things get ugly.

    Last time I tried to work outside the home, it was at the cost of my solitude. After just three months, I had nothing left to give my family (because I wasn't able to recharge during “me” time). We were all very unhappy, so I finally decided to quit. Shane was delighted; he said he had been on the verge of asking me to quit so that we could all be happy again.


  4. Oh completely agree with you. I need my chill time. And I have always wanted to work to live, not live to work. Nothing better than a few quality hours with myself and a good book!


  5. Oh Cathy, I agree with you. With my Fibro, I can & will over book myself and then I pay for it in pain and suffering. My body no longer likes busy. We do live in a small town, no traffic (well rarely) but on the downside, we must drive 50 miles one way to doctors, shopping, nice restaurants, great places for the kids!


  6. I can completely relate to this Cathy. I always wake up earlier than I need to so that I can have a quiet morning with a second cup of tea. And if I've had a long day out with lots of talking to others, the introvert in me needs a night to just rest alone. I'm so lucky my family understands this about me and realise I need that balance.
    I hope you can find some quiet time, and glad you still have your morning walks with Izzy.. x


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