The people I meet often describe themselves as “busy.” For instance, some are working longer hours because their workplace is competitive or understaffed. Some middle-aged people feel the pressures of caring for their children at the same time as their aging parents. Calendars are full of activities, and our list of things to do lengthens by the day. We need some checks that will stop us before we get to the point of becoming “too busy.” I was reminded of them again this week.
The first check is my husband and children. I consider them a high priority, and that means I want to spend time with them. The way that happens consistently at our house is family meals around the table. We eat dinner together every night, and we often work together to prepare the food. We purposely carve out this time and wait until everyone is at home. I realize this may change when our children become teenagers, but family meals are still something valuable to strive for. It gives stability to the entire family unit and shows everyone their value on a daily basis.
Another check is Sundays. I was raised at a time when stores were not open on Sundays. We always managed to do our shopping on the other six days and appreciated the idea of having Sundays off to spend with family and participate in faith activities. Even today we enjoy taking a break on Sundays and make sure it is not at someone else's expense. Seven-day weeks are a universal part of calendars even though they do not correspond to astronomy in the way years, months, and days do. There is something about the rhythm of six days of work and one day of rest that helps me deal with life more reflectively.
My choices of transportation also help me to keep a balanced pace in my life. Even though my husband and I own a vehicle, I would rather take the bus or walk to local destinations. Walking gives me time to think and plan; riding the bus allows me to read a book without worrying about city traffic. These modes of travel also lend themselves to friendly interchanges with other people; they remind me my concerns are not the only ones that matter.
Finally, I make a point of asking myself, “Am I too busy to help someone?” If the answer is “yes,” then I know my priorities are mixed up. People are more important than agendas. My radar is tuned to people who may need practical help, and I try to do what I can to be a good neighbour.