Term One is coming to an end and the school year has begun to heat up. Many students are really starting to feel the pressure of finding the time to successfully juggle the workload required to complete internal assessments, fulfill extracurricular requirements, be a contributing family member around the household and in the community and spend time with friends.
Some students have the added pressure of working part-time or spending many hours training/practising for high level arts pursuits or sport. Many students have no time to rest and just ‘be’.
It’s not healthy to be constantly busy, as young people nor as the adults in their lives. When they see us working huge hours, pushing ourselves to the limit in the quest for ‘success’, they see this as ‘normal’ and begin to adopt the same type of workload and work habits themselves. We have been programming our children from a very young age to be very busy, driving our children to activity to activity in the quest for them to have opportunities to thrive - in the hope that each opportunity we give them will help them to be the best that they can be. We have done it out of deep love and out of a desire to be excellent parents, but we didn’t see the possible fallout. Stress. We forgot to allow our children just to ‘be’. That to just sit and watch a sunset is actually OK. The truth is, that in order to find out who we actually are, we need to slow down.
We live in a culture of constant ‘doing’. With the Sunday Sabbath no longer being routinely observed in New Zealand (shops are open, sports practices and games are scheduled on Sundays, and fewer families are attending church regularly) our society has lost a very special time of peace and self-reflection. ‘Sabbath’ literally means to stop and take a break. Some people describe it as an opportunity to slow down, taking time to be by ourselves and pray, freeing ourselves from technology and consumerism. Throughout the New Testament, we read of Jesus going off on his own for solitude and prayer. He did it in order to be refreshed and to re-ground his life in relationship with God. We too need this time of self-reflection.
So what can we do about getting some control back into our busy lives that are so overloaded with demands from teachers, employers, coaches, tutors…..deadlines left, right and centre? We can learn how to deep breathe, we can have dedicated time away from technology and engage in meditative practices such as cooking slowly, simply sitting and having a cup of tea (or coffee) and not do anything else at the same time, doing yoga, learning different ways to meditate, trying our hand at stream of consciousness writing, doing art, walking in nature, swimming, running…. however, in order to find the time to do any of these things, we need to DO LESS.
Sit down these holidays as a family and come up with something that you can drop from your busy schedule. Is there something that you feel compelled to do that you don’t actually enjoy? Do you really need to do all of those activities? Maybe it’s time to work out what you actually love doing and focus on what brings you joy. In other words, do less, so that you can have more time to do what you love.