Generation Cedar

Busyness. It’s one of the diseases of Western society. Are we busy trying to distract ourselves from our own lack of contentment? Are we busy trying to “keep up”?

A man commented that he would never have more than a couple of children because he “wants to give them everything”.

“Everything”. Our definition of that word defines the entire essence of our lives.

Isn’t it time we scrutinize our “everything” and make sure we are giving them what they really need?

“I wonder if it occurs to Western middleclass parents that many of the activities we feel we cannot do without are unaffordable luxuries to parents in many other parts of the globe, or even in other parts of the city, and yet every nation on earth is capable of producing well-rounded, creative, and civilized human beings. How? But that’s a topic for another day….

Many North American parents feel not just a desire, but an obligation to offer their children the widest possible range of leisure experiences and activities. The choices are myriad: music lessons (Pick one—or more—of a hundred different instruments and musical styles, then decide: solo, ensemble, band, orchestra, choir, or a combination thereof?); sports (Which to choose? How many at once? Highly competitive or just for fun?); dance, drama, clubs, hobbies….

Some families do not eat even one dinner together per week; on any given evening, the mother and father are dashing in different directions. Larger families find themselves going in three or four directions, which only works if you carpool, requiring complicated drop-off/pick-up schedules, or (in my rural area) numerous vehicles (and teens who can legally drive them)….”  Read full article : Enough of Parenting Misery Lit

Activities themselves aren’t bad. Busyness that robs us of the simplicity and joys of living and serving others is. May we seek a careful balance.

(Thoughts to be continued…) What are your thoughts?

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21 Responses

  1. I agree, simplicity is best. We home school, and do NO activities. We live 1 hr from a small town. My kids work with their dad here on the ranch, hunt with their dad here on the ranch, help their dad work with other ranchers (it is called ‘neighboring’), do chores, etc. Life is full, but not overly busy with running around. I think it is best! Much better than all the running around I see others do. My oldest (of 9) is at a community college and working as a care taker for a man with poor health. He is doing great in school and is very mature and well rounded, all with out one sport team or club.

    1. And when your children look back on their childhoods, they will be filled with all these wonderful memories. 🙂 What a blessing to hear. We live on a farm and my kids do much of the same and are never bored.

  2. It is a sobering thought that everything often includes material things and I’m not talking about clothing, food, and shelter.

  3. I recently read somewhere that this new busyness is something that modern people prefer to quiet downtime. Whatever happened to long evenings just sitting on the porch talking and sipping tea? People have gotten used to a go-go-go world. Father goes to work, mother goes to work or errands, and the children go to school.. but what to do afterward? Empty spaces of time are things to be feared, then we would have to think about things or even get bored. People want to be constantly entertained or occupied… busy. Then they won’t have time to think about things that bother them or maybe things they need to work on.

    Boredom is not a bad thing for children. Boredom fosters the imagination to kick into gear. Instead of rushing to play a video game or go to soccer practice as soon a boredom sets in, a child would have to use their imagination to come up with something to do and boy can a lot of fun be had this way. Organized activities robs a family of the flexibility to do what they want when they choose to. Instead a child must be at a certain place at a certain time and family activities must be worked around those schedules. So sad.

    Organized sports, what are they really competing for? The right to say they are better than the other team? A trophy? Why not a unscheduled game with the children in the neighborhood? Teams switched up every time and the goal to be just to have fun. No neighborhood kids close by? There are tons of exciting things to do in the country. My boys never liked to play with each other when they were in public school, in fact they loathed each other. Why did they need to be close when they had so many friends their own age? Now, since beginning to homeschool 3 years ago, they are best friends and love to spend time together and this friendship helps keep the peace and unity of the family. I don’t have to constantly break up arguments anymore. Before, they would always complain that they were bored, never get that anymore either.

    Music lessons, why not use a private tutor in the home if you think they have talent or want to learn an instrument. Older siblings in multiple child households could teach younger siblings who are interested in learning (this would also foster a closer sibling bond).

    Swimming lessons, can’t mom and dad handle teaching a child to swim? Wouldn’t that be a great bonding experience? Parents did it for centuries, can’t we still manage?

    It would seem to me that many of these activities could be done within the family or are really unneccesary extras. We need to get back to the family as the center of our days. All this empty activity is robbing us of precious precious time with our children. My sister and I were two of those children whose parents tried to enrich their childhood with organized activities, but the memories that really bring a smile to our faces when we recall our childhoods are things like going with our parents to fly a kite, going fishing with our dad and our mom being too afraid to bait her own worm, playing games in the yard like tag and hide and seek, playing volley ball and pretending the row of bushes was the net, riding bikes together, and playing with our pets.

  4. Absolutely! I can’t remember where I read it – but it was a Christian site – but I recently saw a list of “indicators for success” for youth – and it was all about being busy and “involved.” Even the church has promoted the “importance” of being “busy.”

  5. All of the statements here say what I was thinking very clearly. It can be hard, though, at times to be the only family in our “social” group who feels this way. It’s almost like they pity us because we don’t involve our kids in different activities. Or, even like we’re somehow lazy for not wanting to take the time and gas money to “give our kids more opportunities”. I do get discouraged sometimes and wonder if we’re doing the right thing. Oh, and one thing too is that it all wears me out. I get the, “Well, you should be willing to sacrifice for your kids” thing. But, what is wrong with not wearing myself out so that I can be a happier mom and wife? What’s really better for my kids–being involved in stuff “that can better their future” or having a mom who’s happy, content, able to keep a well-ordered home, and set a godly example to her kids? Like someone already said, it’s the times when my parents played in the backyard with me, made lemon bars with me, sat on the swing and listened to the night bugs while sipping tea, and just seeing my Mom relaxed and smiling that I remember most. That’s much better for their futures in my opinion. So, I guess I AM doing the right thing! Glad I got that figured out!;)

  6. I saw a lot of this busyness in many of my piano students’ families in the years I taught other children in addition to my own. Nearly every one of my students had a dizzying array of outside activities. Their ability to fully work to their God-given potential was seriously hampered by an overabundance of pursuits and lack of time to develop their skill at the piano. Many could do no more than simply be “good enough”, in their minds, to get through their music week after week a little bit better than they sightread the week before, if even that.

    The concept of pursuing excellence, aiming to do a few carefully-chosen things well, seems to be a lost art these days. I can understand that parents might want to explore some activity options to see if a child has a strong gifting or love for something that can bless others. Yet, many things fall into that category and we can’t do them all (and we probably won’t do any of them to the best of our ability if we try to pile on too much). And that’s not even talking about all the activities that beckon us out there that don’t have serving others at their heart.

    It is encouraging to know that there still are people these days (although I wish there were more) who have a strong sense of doing mighty things with their talents to the glory of God, and who think in terms of how they can bless others with those gifts, rather than operating from a perspective of “What can *I* (or my kids) get out of this?”

    That’s my two cents worth, Kelly 😉 Good post.

  7. In thinkin about busyness it seems like there is good busyness and bad busyness. Good would be busy as a family for the purpose of building your home( like garden, animals, homemaking), serving your neighbors and hospitality. Bad to me, is goin outside your home for all the this and that activities and missing sweet opportunities to be grow in fellowship with family and those God brings. It also seems that in much busyness is a loneliness. Maybe emptiness is more like it. Simple is always best, in possessions, activities, vacations, and desires. Great post! tammy

    1. That’s funny, because I feel like we’re terribly busy, but we don’t really do much, either. The kids are involved in two sports per year – soccer and baseball. That does keep us pretty busy, but that’s only one thing for a couple of months out of the year. Yet, I’m exhausted. We don’t do music or any other classes. We homeschool, so we’re basically home all day. Our church is small, so there’s not much to be involved with regarding that. I’m not sure what to cut out. I guess part of what keeps us busy is that with 5 kids, there’s always a doctor/dentist appointment or something. My kids have allergies, so there’s extra doctors for that. But that’s not the type of thing we’re talking about here regarding busyness. But it does keep us on the go.

  8. Busyness is something our family really struggles with … we never go anywhere, but we always feel on the verge of exhaustion from being busy. (Me and my older 2 daughters).

    I find it mildly amusing that people feel compelled to give us what they have too much of (like stuffed toys and clothes) out of “pity” for us being “poor” and “not having much”.

    I keep looking around and think we have far too much for our little trailer. A good deal of time is spent keeping up with the chores at my Dad’s house next door, caring for our animals, and caring for our little garden, and trying to keep our own house clean, kids fed, and doing our schooling. My two older girls also blog and write books for fun.

    But even our home busyness seems to be overwhelming most of the time. I know sometime’s it is my own fault for mentioning that we don’t have something – and then suddenly the person I told it to is giving us their “old version” of it. Plus we have several garage salers in the family (aunts, grandparents) and they bring us “cool stuff” as well.

    It is a topic of many conversations between me and my two big girls.

  9. I consider us to be very busy people but we are don’t have ANY organized activities. We go to the park. We ride horses. We go to the library. We go to the beach and the creek. We go pick blueberries, go to local festivals ect! I always think we have plenty to do. Imagine my surprise when my sister inlaw said that she “doesn’t think it is fair” for us not to have any of our children involved in sports! She says “kids need activities” and “all kids need to play sports”. My husband told her that he often plays ball with the children. She says that is not the same as organized sports. She is the very one who has to drag her teenage girl to basketball practice kicking and screaming. All of my husbands siblings play AT LEAST one sport at a time and they do not eat one meal a week at home. It’s so interesting that they believe that we are short changing our children. What different worlds we live in!!

  10. I meant *all my husbands nieces and nephews play at least one sport at a time*. Also I would like to add that I am not against organized sports….or at least I wasn’t until I got a close up view of how obsessed some families can get about them. Ha! I love giving my children what they want just like any parent. But I hope I can have a good balance and give them everything they NEED and some of the things they want. I don’t want to have to have a color coded schedule to know where each individual is supposed to be every night and enlist grandparent to do the hauling for a mere 3 children (real life stuff). I love how even when we are very busy we are all busy doing stuff together!
    Sorry for rambling like a wild lady. Busyness and materialism just happen to be one of my soap boxes. :/

  11. I read RC Sproul, Jr’s post on Ligonier today, and while his post isn’t related to your post, or even the subject matter, the following resonated w/me:

    “Not many of us worry about what we will eat or what we will wear. Sadly, that’s not because we’re so spiritual; rather, it is because we are so prosperous. Having been freed from such worries, do we then focus on pursuing the kingdom of God and His righteousness, or do we instead worry about the future of this theological coalition or the direction of that shared blog? Pursue the kingdom by pursuing His righteousness. And then all these things will be added to you. Stop your fretting. The future does not depend on you. It depends on the One on whom you depend.”

    I discussed Sproul’s piece w/my handsome hunk of a husband and my daughters, and concluded that it isn’t a matter of wondering HOW we’re going to pay for our food and clothing, but, rather, a matter of wondering WHAT food and/or clothing to buy…because there are so many choices. It isn’t wrong to have things, since money is just one resource that God gives–and can use to advance His kingdom–but our hearts are what matters. Today, I’ve been praying that my kids, my husband, my g’kids and i would have an insatiable passion for God and His righteousness.

    Growing up, my kids played sports (one of my daughters attended college on a full-ride, so there are benefits), and we were busy, sometimes at a breakneck speed. But, how could we not have been w/ten kids? However, kids can be on sensory overload, and can get to the point that when they aren’t doing something, wonder when the next tactile activity is coming.

    As to boredom, I loathe the expression, “I’m bored,” and my kids knew that if they said that, well, then, I would give them something (like laundry) to do to prevent boredom. God forbid they should be “bored.”

  12. Too much bussines can produce depression in children.
    What most children really desire is time to relax at home, to play with their toys and to have the attention of their parents.
    Of course, I think it is good to have some kind of the above mentioned activities, but just the right dose.
    When I started homeschooling I thought I had to attend every fieldtrip and every activity I heard about. Now I know better and I am very selective.
    When my friend was little and told her mother she was bored, the answer was: “If you are bored, you are boring”.

  13. I totally agree! We have some friends that have two children in competitive & traveling sports. They have taken out loans in order to fund trips out of state for a meet or game. 🙁 They always tell us they would love more children but don’t understand how we can afford it. Uhhh…
    Unfortunately I have not talked to the mom in quite sometime because she doesn’t have time to talk to friends anymore because they are always on the go. 🙁

  14. (From the flip side of the coin) Our family is one of those “busy” families. We do mainly sports (until it oozes out of my ears sometimes), and whatever other social activities my children and husband can fit in. It really is depressing. Emphasis is not put on dinner and quality family time together. It was not the way I imagined my life would be (I would have been the stereotypical homeschooling farm girl), but it is the way my husband wants it. I spent too many years fighting it and looking down on my husband for being unspiritual. That does far more damage than simply trying to bloom where you’re planted and working with what you’ve got. It takes a lot of extra effort, but you can raise healthy, well-balanced, hard-working children who love the Lord, but it does take more effort to counter-act all the worldliness. God is glorified when we obey His word (reverencing our husbands), and not our own expectations of what life should look like.

    1. So blessed and encouraged by your comment. Your children will most definetely be blessed by a woman who has chosen to follow her husband without complaining and grumbling – thank you for your honesty!!

  15. Busyness…I agree with “tammy” above that there is a ‘good’ busyness and a ‘bad’ busyness. First, I believe each family must ‘know’ what season they are in. When you have a home full of little ones, it is not a benefit to be running to and fro, as that will lend to distrubtion, peace-robbing and contention. I have found that little ones benefit most from times of rest, have security in “schedules” {“they” are a friend and a guide} and flourish when provided that mom time {be it sitting and reading books, playing blocks or being a ‘helper’ with home responsibilities}. This is a precious time and one which is so short lived…our eldest is now 22! Living in this season holds enough challenge to a momma’s energy and ability to stay on top of her responsiblities, let alone adding lots of out-of-the-home activities to it.

    As the season changes, those ‘opportunities’ will still be there…homeschoolers ALWAYS have opportunities to go and do. 😀 Our family tries to weigh what we participate in by how it will affect the family as a whole. We have children from ages 22 down to our newest blessing of 8 months. Our eldest will be entering his last semester of college in the fall, works full time and does provide help around the house. Having him home does provide an extra driver on the occasions were one may be needed…a blessing. {Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean so we can be busier…it’s just nice having 3 drivers…running errands, on ocassion taking someone here or there…}

    Our second son (16), has participated in the {free} local youth orchestra which meets Mondays & Wednesdays about 10 minutes from our home. I am blessed to have a friend whos children participate {her youngest is now 12} and picks him up for these practice times each week. He is in his 4th year and has been able to volunteer with other class times…an opportunity to refine his abilities to teach other children, serve others and use his God-given gifts in this capacity. Now, if we did not live as closely as we do to this venue, if it had a financially draining affect on the family or if it took away from our family time together, he would not have been involved all these years. The blessing of this activity has been: filling our home with the sound of music, ministering to family, neighbors & friends as well as opportunities for our family to attend concerts together 3-5 times per year…a blessing to our whole family.

    Our third son (12), has participated in flag football for the past 3 seasons. This is also something we do as a family…we attend practice once per week (still maintaining our meal time together) at the park 5 minutes from our home. The younger children are able to walk with us and play on the playground while he practices. A couple of the middle children are even pulled in to help with practice from time to time…exercise and character building. The season is respectively short and the sport has provided lots of learning and character building opportunities.

    The only other activity we do is attend a young ladies group once every month or so. My 9 year old daughter and I attend, which our family believes is a blessing to our eldest daughter and I to meet with other moms and daughters for a time of teaching, tea and related activity. Although this does take us out of the home for a few hours once a month {sometimes once every other month} it is a time ‘to encourage one another’; to yeild to His Word as a woman and all that means as a Christian.

    We have found that this is what works for our family. Not letting the activities ‘run and rule’ us, but fitting into our priorities of putting God first, then our family, church, ministry, etc. We {a family of 10} eat breakfast most mornings together, lunch on Fridays as a family and it is a rare event that we don’t come together for dinner every night. We pray together, serve together and worship together.

    This is where the Lord has our family…this is not what it looked like six years ago or even twelve years ago. Every year is a new year and as time goes on, seasons change. Some years, may afford more time ministering outside the home or more time to host events and fellowship gatherings in our home. Some years, keep us closer to home {the birth of babies, life with lots of littles, caring for sick children, the caregiving and then recent passing of my mother}…

    I believe what we really are talking about and what your post reflects is “living intentionally”. This is what I see from so many of Kelly’s posts…thank you.

    Blessings ~

    Jarnette @ Seasons of Life

  16. I forgot to say that my 9 yr. old nepehw is in a travel team, and it is really a pain, bc he has games 3x week (including sundays) and some of them far away. (If you are in travel you have to be in home too). He and his father just missed our mother’s day gathering bc of that. last year he missed his cousin baptism…
    His parents free time schedule really revolves around their son’s baseball.

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