It’s Time to Slow Down and Stop Glorifying Busy


It was only a few years ago that I was a self-described busy Super Mom. When my kids first entered school I was determined to do it all. I was going to work full time, I was going to volunteer full time, I was going to hand make classroom treats for every single holiday, throw amazing birthday parties, host sleep overs, cook homemade meals every night, and clean my house until it was spotless.

I actually managed to pull it off for almost four years. Things shifted, and I found myself working part time, which meant I could do even more, so that’s just what I did. I volunteered more, I was PTO President, I read books in the classrooms, I helped with student-led reading, I got a second job, I ran an Etsy shop, I was writing 100+ book reviews a year. I had homemade meals every night and my house continued to be spotless.

It's Time to Slow Down and Stop Glorifying Busy | Duluth Moms Blog

It wasn’t until I had my third baby that I started to crack. I had to cut down on my volunteering, I had to quit my jobs, we were eating a lot of sandwiches, birthday parties and sleep overs were done, and classroom treats were a thing of the past. By the time my fourth baby came it was like the universe was trying to tell me that it didn’t think I had slowed down enough. I died giving birth and was revived with an entire slew of medical conditions. That became the screeching end to all of it. I was barely getting out of bed and I won’t even tell you the state of my house. I was trying hard to keep up, but my new version of my best was falling far short of what my family had become accustomed to.

When I started therapy for depression and PTSD I realized I also had anxiety. I didn’t realize that all of the things about me that I valued and liked (very detail oriented, ridiculously organized, obsessively on time, extreme cleanliness, planner at heart, people pleaser, helpful, etc) were all of the characteristics of high-functioning anxiety. Of course, if you’re someone who is chronically late and people would describe you as a mess, these sound like goals and you’re wondering why I’d even complain about these.


(I like big buts, I can not lie.)

It wasn’t until I was unable to do all of those things that I could really slow down and take a real inventory of the things around me. I didn’t realize that there were a lot of negatives to high-functioning anxiety that I was completely ignoring (overthinking, losing time because I was always SO early to everything, having to do things repetitively, always planning for the worst, fear of saying no and then not being able to say no, insomnia, constant worrying, procrastination and then mentally beating myself up when I had to rush to the deadline, etc).

I didn’t realize that my overachieving behavior was, in a way, making other people feel guilty or even bad at what little they could contribute and I wasn’t valuing what they could contribute. I was always grateful for help when I could get it but I hated asking for it and felt like people looked down on me when I admitted I was struggling. I have a fear of people criticizing me and I thought that by asking for help I was giving them ammunition to talk about what a failure I am.

It was like being busy was a merit badge. If I could prove that I was busier than you, I was somehow doing a better job. My version of success was doing well at a job, being a good mom, being a good wife, volunteering at school and in the community, knowing all of the parents of my children’s friends. I wanted to be that person who went to a store and everyone knew somehow.

It's Time to Slow Down and Stop Glorifying Busy | Duluth Moms Blog

Imagine going from Super-Over-Achiever to being unable to tie my shoes. I couldn’t watch my kids alone. I couldn’t drive by myself. I couldn’t sort my medication, remember to feed my children, I couldn’t tell you what day it was or if I had gone to the bathroom.

It was an alarming reality check. I know it’s not going to be everyone’s situation, but if there was at all a positive to my medical crisis it’s that I no longer glorify busy. I have learned to slow way down. I can stop and appreciate rain. When there is a nice breeze outside I can watch clouds move. I can go on a walk and not feel like I should/could be doing a hundred other things. I can enjoy a vacation without constantly worrying if everyone else is enjoying themselves enough. I completely enjoy cereal for dinner. My shelves have dust on them and I just don’t care. I can look at things and I realize that it isn’t a crisis.

It might be a bump in the road but a four year old wearing sneakers in the winter because I can’t find her boots is not a crisis and I don’t have to tear up the house and then decide we are going to renovate the back porch that same day in an effort to find the boots. I don’t always have to have planned activities for my kids- sometimes just lying on the couch and talking to them is enough.

I will never be the mom to tell you not to do something you enjoy. I really enjoy volunteering at my kids’ schools and I’ll still do it but not to the level I once did. I can recognize the warning signs of my anxiety ramping up now and I’m able to stop and take an inventory of what is going on. Why am I feeling anxious? What would happen if I didn’t add this to my plate? Is this going to better me at all? I’m learning how to take care of myself first and I know that if I don’t do that, I’m not going to be good for anyone else. I’ve rearranged my priorities and it is a strange new world. Some days I feel like I’m learning how to adult all over again.

I’ll tell you what I tell all of my friends: stop. Just stop. You really do only have one life (except me, I have two… ha!) and you never know when it’s going to be over. It’s so weird for me to look at my life now and think I could be missing this. I know my time here is limited and there isn’t a reason in the world that I’m going to spend it scrubbing my kitchen cupboards for fun. I want to see everything that I can and I definitely cannot do that while working overtime because I have a hard time saying no. Dropping the busy isn’t an overnight change but it is a gradual change. There is no reward for doing more than other people on Facebook.


Comments are closed.