Slow Down Ma’am!

Police Motorcycle Cop Mirror

I didn’t even realize it. In our modern world, it just creeps up on you, you know. I’m talking about busy-ness. Before you know it, you are taking on more juicy projects on top of your already full workload, signing your kids up for more and more activities, volunteering at school and in the community, pledging to cook healthy meals and exercise, and on and on. Then you have to make it all work. You have the entire day planned completely back to back. You have to make cuts. Drive time between events starts to seem frivolous, so you snip and cut to make everything fit into the day. And things like getting your hair cut is pretty low on the list. But you resolve to yourself that that’s the way it is.

Several months ago, I had to travel for work. My hair was a wreck, so I squeezed in getting my haircut during the day. The appointment was going to be tight, but I was pretty sure I could drive to downtown Portland and get back to my office for a meeting right after. In reality, the drive and the appointment both took longer than I thought they would. It’s a good thing I have a car with some guts! I broke out of the downtown traffic and the road opened up. I hit the pedal and I was going 45 MPH…55 MPH…65 MPH… I would make it back to my meeting on time, with good hair. Hooray!

You know what happened next. As I was checking out my new doo in the mirror I saw red lights flashing. Yes, I got pulled over by a state police officer. I received a big fat traffic citation and a stern, “In the future, please slow down, ma’am.” I sat there miserable on the side of the road after the police officer drove away. Was all of this rushing around worth breaking the law? I made a resolution to get rid of my fast car and pare down my insane schedule. He was right – I needed to slow down.

I am not alone. Most professional moms I know are overly busy. This article from last summer coined this the “busy trap.”

It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.

From the ‘Busy’ Trap by TIM KREIDER

The traffic citation made me realize that I’m overscheduling my daughter, having too high of expectations for my husband’s workload around the house, and making myself nuts. Now, the fast car is for sale. My daughter is dropping one sport, and I’m going to prioritize things that truly add value to my life and my family. And at work, my focus is now squarely on the business (the stuff that matters), not the busyness. “Business not Busyness” is my new law. One I don’t want to break.

Occasionally we do get wound up. If you find yourself running with your “hair on fire” and breaking your own speed limit, please give yourself a citation. Tell yourself, “Slow down ma’am.”

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