Several years ago I wrote a post titled reclaiming family. The post had pictures of my kids at the local orchard, among pumpkins, dried corn, cute sure you can pet them animals, and old grumbly tractors that moved throughout the apple tree groves. I wrote words about being busy and how I just wanted to reclaim our family - more family times, less time driving, less doing things that took away from time together.
Yet, for two more years I kept being that busy.
Racing, really. From here to there and there to here and here to there and sometimes somewhere in between. Family dinners were smooshed inbetween the busy - and the activities while they were good - they were also busy and they kept us, as a family, busy all the time.
I was exhausted.
My children were exhausted.
I could see it. They lived in this hurry up hurry hurry hurry we're going to be late let's get going come on come on get in the car let's leave now type of life.
So we decided to stop.
And that decision - to say no to the extracurriculars for a season - was one of the hardest decisions that we've made. It was saying no to really great things - ballet and taekwondo and extra classes and all of that - but we said no so that we could sit around the table as a family over dinner and just be.
We wanted to learn how to breathe again.
And so here we are - three months into this reclaiming family space - and we are relearning and readjusting our rhythm of life. Dinners are slower. My children have relaxed - I see it - they are calmer, less stressed, and much more optimistic. Who would have thought the busy would pull at their optimism? And yet, it had.
I see joy trickling back in our home.
It's still hard. I fight the thoughts of we need to do this everyone is involved in extracurriculars what if my kids are missing out and all of that. I've just had to turn away those worries and instead look at my entire family gathered around the table in my kitchen and remember that these days are limited. I want to guard them and live intentional - making the best use of my time and guarding my children's hearts. My Hannah? She's got less than two years till she graduates - it's either now or it's never - she'll be grown and gone and I would have raced through it all.
It's about rediscovering family.
And ultimately when I am old and rocking in my white rocking chair on my front porch with begonias blooming in pots and ferns in a basket I know I will look back on those days when my kids were young and I know that I would rather remember dinner on the table with all seven of my children gathered around versus the racing frenetic life that was before.
We decided to look at culture's norm of being busy and for a season say no.
I don't know how long we'll choose to live this way, but for now, I'm embracing the everyday and am truly trying to etch in my brain this time as a family together.
It's our one year off.
And we're finding joy again.
It's been so intriguing watching my children learn to re-adapt to a slower pace of life. In that intentional stillness they've rediscovered interests and talents that had been pushed to the side by the constant busy life and racing to catch up. Do I think the activities are bad? Absolutely not. In fact, I am so blessed that my children have had these opportunities in their life. For our family, during this season, it was about being very intentional and stepping back and slowing down.
I plan on sharing more of our one year off journey as the year progresses. To receive finding joy via email simply click subscribe to finding joy.