My year of less is more: what's happened with a slower schedule?
We got rid of a lot of extra curricular's in January and so many times this year I have thanked God that I felt OK about making that decision before this crazy year had even started. We're at the point where we feel so spent from the stress of coping with a sick child, that when yet another 'Great opportunity for our kids to SHINE!' gets announced at school, we want to weep (and sometimes do weep). Getting the shopping done each week somehow feels like reaching Base Camp. Getting kids to a concert feels like climbing the summit.
What's been interesting to me is that the kids aren't complaining that they have less on. They seem to find what I would consider the basic stuff - school, church, kid's club - makes their life quite rich. Three of the five kids play a musical instrument - last year I had five kids doing either one or two instruments each. A couple of them do a bit of sport. We've had to say so many times this year 'Sorry kids, but we just can't make that or get to that' and I rarely hear a complaint. We're weary - maybe they are too and doing less is helping all of us cope.
One of the consequences of a house bound illness is that we've really had to curtail the amount of hospitality we do. We've had no one over for a meal in months and we haven't gone anywhere. It feels too hard. Partly because it tires J out having extra people around and partly because we're reluctant to take her out and expose her to more germs. I think it's probably made us pretty insular within our family unit but those relationships have been sustaining for us and especially our sick child this year.
What's weird with my own schedule is that I have an enormous amount of energy for doing things that I find fun. Like coffees with friends, nights out with the girls, taking on extra work. It is so strange observing myself handling stress in a way that I would never have expected. It seems that distracting myself, but finding distraction in things that I don't find draining is my way of coping. Normally I get a lot of refreshment from being at home on my own, but having a child at home all the time with me, means that staying home now equals constant low level anxiety.