“Hey, do you have time to come over for a few hours next Wednesday? I want to talk about homeschooling.”
The question pierced my brain and sent sirens off in my head. Of course, I don’t have time, who does? Does anyone actually have hours to give away to something?
Now, I didn’t say that. Instead, I sweetly smiled and said, “absolutely! What days work best for you?”
Later that night, I started thinking about how busy I am and how everyone I know seems to be busy.
Busyness has become a status symbol, so to speak.
The busier you are, the more you have going for you, right? Time to relax and self-care takes a backseat when you have work, kids, and a house to maintain.
So, I did what any normal person would do. I polled my friends to see what they thought. Do they feel pressure to always be busy, or was that just me?
Let’s take a look at the responses, and see if any of the answers sound like you.
Do You Feel Pressure to Always Be Busy?
“I grew up in a house where there was an unspoken philosophy that if you weren’t doing something productive, you were wasting time.” – Racheal K.
“When I come home from work, I could make dinner, clean the house, and nurse the baby. If my husband gives the baby a bath and I sit down, I instantly feel guilty that I took a few minutes to watch TV. I feel like I could be doing something more productive.” – Brittany T.
“I feel like I should be doing something, learning, or, at least, think about something important at all times. This can definitely lead to exhaustion.” – Sarah H.
“I used to try to do it all – be super mom, throw the best parties, make sure my house was spotless, etc. After reaching extreme burn out, I realized none of us were happy, and I was only doing it to keep up with Pinterest and Instagram moms.” – Brittney N.
“I think our society, culture, and media portrays busy schedules as a “badge of honor.” – Kimberly K.
“Every time I sit down to take a minute to relax, I hear a little voice in the back of my head telling me to stop being lazy and screaming at me because I always have so much to do. That might be housework, needing to cook, do something for the baby, etc.” – Alicia C.
“I don’t feel like there is ever enough time in a day. I’m conscious enough to realize that busy tasks like keeping up the house shouldn’t bother me as much as they do, but I can’t relax until I mark something off my to-do list.” – Katie T.
Why Do We Feel the Need to Be So Busy?
It’s clear that other people feel the same extra way that I do, but I still wondered what drives this culture of busyness. Why do we feel the need to be so busy and lose leisure time? Leisure time just isn’t for vacation or weekends after all.
In a 2017 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, S. Bellezza discusses busyness as being the new status symbol.
“The authors argue that a busy and overworked lifestyle, rather than a leisurely lifestyle, has become an aspirational status symbol. A series of studies shows that the positive inferences of status in response to busyness and lack of leisure time are driven by the perceptions that a busy person possesses desired human capital characteristics.”
The lifestyle of the rich and the famous no longer means just driving fancy cars and having large homes. Instead, the status quo is being busy and having no time to yourself.
That clearly means you have life going for you if you’re too busy, right?
It’s not necessarily our fault though. Like anything else, we see it all around us. All of our friends are busy. Celebrities talk about being busy and how they need a break from their crazy lives.
As mothers, we really are expected to do it all. We’re expected to work 40 hours a week, because being a stay at home mother is lazy, but live like we are a stay at home mom.
There just isn’t enough time in the day to do it all, but the pressure is still there.
How We Fill Our Weekends
Decades ago, weekends looked different than they do nowadays. Families had dinner together on Sundays, often extended families.
Weekends might include the kids watching cartoons and mom getting some cleaning done, but there was always time for leisure.
Nowadays, the weekend is just a continuation of the week without the work days. We drive kids back and forth to games and practices.
We pack in all the chores that we aren’t able to finish in the week, and we try to stick in some family activities.
Got to fill those Facebook photo albums of memories!
Something I think is interesting is how European lives compare to Americans. Many stores in Europe are closed on the weekends, especially Sunday. Some countries, like Germany, even close stores much earlier than other countries.
So, people are forced to get their errands ran on the weekdays, leaving time for leisure on the weekends.
Right now, the concept of “hygge” is trending. Hygge focuses on contentment and a cozy lifestyle. Imagine sitting around a fire, drinking a cup of hot tea, as your kids play and you read a book.
That’s hygge, and it’s a Danish concept that people love right now.
Why do we love it so much? First, everything cozy is pretty awesome, especially in the winter months.
Another reason is that Americans don’t tend to seek out that in our lives. We search for the busy because that seems to be what’s expected, but it’s not truly what we want.
Are we just putting on a show?
Social Media and The Pressure to Be Perfect
Perhaps the biggest culprit for our culture of busyness is social media. The introduction of Pinterest and Instagram has led people, mothers, in particular, to feel the need to do it all and compete with each other.
Remember when school snacks were just that – snacks? My mom brought graham crackers and pudding cups to my kindergarten class.
Not too shabby if you asked my five-year-old self. Now, moms have to create individual worm dirt cakes for each kindergarten and protein-filled snack bags with organic sunflower butter and crackers.
Talk about pressure.
The Instagram accounts are filled with color-coordinated pictures in houses that are never a mess and their kids seem to be dressed fashionably.
Did I mention my 3-year-old hates clothes? I can’t keep him dressed let alone make him look presentable 90% of the time.
It’s easy to understand the pressure moms feel to do it all. The fancy Instagram accounts and fancy Pinterest projects make us feel subpar to our kids if we do anything less.
We just aren’t good moms if we aren’t busy, or so it feels.
What’s The Problem?
Being busy isn’t a bad thing. Many people, like my father-in-law, prefer to have their hands in several pots with activities and hobbies.
The problem comes when we forget ourselves and we feel as if self-care is being lazy.
Moms already lack self-care time, but now, we’re being made to feel as if we’re lazy to do so.
The problem with the culture of busyness is the loss of leisure time and seeking out hobbies that we love.
Many friends have told me they felt reading books was one activity they didn’t have time to do in the drive to be busy.
If we’re on a quest to ensure mothers take care of themselves and make time for things that matter to them as individuals, we have to defeat the belief that busyness is a status symbol.
We have to kick this belief if we want to excel at better time management to leave ourselves leisure time and unrushed family time.