Calm Down – We’re Not That Busy

My friend shared this on Facebook. I guessed what it was about within a minute, and then I got irritated. Why? Surely it’s just a sweet reminder of how hard our mothers work? On it’s own, perhaps, but to me it’s just the latest in what seems to be a social and media campaign to indoctrinate us that we are (and should be) SOOOOOOO busy. Half the ads I see on TV bombard us with phrases like, “today’s hectic lifestyles” and “busy mums”. There’s even a painkiller which purports to deal with “today’s strong pain”, because never in history has a headache been so bad as it is in 2015.

I’m getting a little bit tired of the notion that parenting and modern life is this mega thing;  as a society we are creating this vibe that we are run off our feet, constantly juggling everything and sacrificing ourselves for our children. It’s insulting to be honest. I would give my own life to preserve my children’s lives, but I wouldn’t work in a Siberian salt mine so they could get a new laptop.

If parenting is a 24 hour a day job, then, oops! I’ve failed. In our family, we eat, we keep a reasonably clean and tidy house, we wear clean clothes. It doesn’t take up my entire day to do these things –  my dogs get walked at least 3km every day. I get through two novels a week and play three games of netball. I’m so busy with playing games on-line, keeping up with the massive amount of information coming through my Twitter education network and spending time catching up with friends and family via Facebook, that sometimes it’s hours between cups of tea. However, all of that is what I do for me. It’s my leisure time, my interests. I wonder if as a society, we are confusing having plenty to do with being busy?

Our grandmothers had infinitely more practical things they had to do – cooking from scratch, scrubbing floors, hand-washing, mending, shopping in numerous different shops and usually walking everywhere. Children pretty much fended for themselves, hung out with older relatives or played outside. Mostly, they were loved, had scraped knees nursed, and had their reading listened to but they certainly didn’t have mothers at their beck and call, or fathers who helped around the house.

This is me glamorously going about cleaning after the daily air-raid.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205198045
 1940s dayAnd this is me glamorously going to a Boswell Project show. On a Sunday afternoon. After lunch with the girls. Before playing netball. I’m so busy. Who is looking after my family? Will they starve – oh! The helpless mites. I’m a bad, bad person.

At home, we all chip in, especially if I’m working. If I get a last-minute invitation to go for lunch with a friend, I don’t refuse because the washing needs to be hung out, or I haven’t ironed the school uniforms – stuff it, they can be wrinkly; it doesn’t make me an inadequate mother or a bad person. I mean, what’s going to happen if I don’t vacuum today? I didn’t change the sheets – will the headlines read, “Woman neglects laundry, nothing happened”, and, ” “I was just so busy!” she wailed.” Maybe your reality is more like this amusing parody, (although for some, despite its sit-com style, there’s still a serious note, intended or otherwise).

God, the grocery shopping takes up SOOOO much of the time I could be spending darning hubbie’s socks. 
a black and white photo of women and children queuing at a series of shopfronts
(Above) Women and children queue for fruit and vegetables from a London greengrocer, 1945. © Imperial War Museum

Some people have this air of ‘hassled’ about them, and at times they are pretty busy, driving kids around, working, whatever else they do, but no-one has no leisure time. No-one never watches TV or goes out for lunch or dinner. None of them do no sporting, special interest or ‘me-time’ thing. And that’s great, but not an accurate reflection of the portrayed zeitgeist. We all buy into it though, with our apologies for ‘spoiling’ ourselves,  justifying that we deserve it. We even take a humourous, rebellious stance of being unworthy because there MUST be something we’re neglecting in order to have time to ourselves. Don’t buy into the idea of our busy, busy lives, you’ll just end up buying all the products and services we don’t really need to assist us with our fabled busy-ness. Are we really just busy being busy, looking busy or justifying not being busy? So our grandmothers don’t mock us, just ask yourself, “Am I really that busy? Does that ad really reflect my everyday life?” If you’re honest, you may have had the odd day like that when your children were very young, but in reality, isn’t your life more full than it is hectic? And aren’t we lucky that it is?

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About vanessa hiser

Primary and Secondary Educator; Academic Psychologist; Counsellor; mother; netballer; lifelong learner.
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3 Responses to Calm Down – We’re Not That Busy

  1. Witty Vanessa, a good read. Regards

  2. Julia says:

    I totally agree with your perspective on this – absolutely my life is busy but it is, as you say, very full and I love it that way! Brilliantly written x

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