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Little House on the Freeway
I read Little House on the Freeway while I was away at the marriage conference this weekend.

In it, author Tim Kimmell lists the seven reasons that we may feel too harried, ranging from "can't stand silence" to a "screen addiction" to an addiction to helping others. As I read the seven reasons (I can't remember all of them now) I felt immeasurably better because I realized that I really only suffered from 1 or 2, and not all 7. So that's got to be a good thing.

One thing that I've been thinking about lately, though, as I've had an incredibly busy couple of weeks, is that we aren't necessarily busier than in the past. We just FEEL busier.

When you look at time studies, the amount of work we do has increased slightly. But it hasn't increased a ton. If you combine housework and paid work, we're still, as a society, doing roughly the same as we did in 1970. Slightly more, but not like 50% more or anything. We actually have a fair amount of leisure time. The difference is in how we're choosing to spend that leisure.

Some of us are simply overextended with committees and extracurricular activities, as we have talked about on this blog over the last two weeks. But I think there's something else at work. When we choose to spend our leisure time in front of a screen (either the internet or the television), we often LOSE a significant portion of our day.

When you sit down at the TV, do you think to yourself, I think I'll sit here for two and a half hours? Chances are you don't, but often you find that that is exactly what you've done. Same with the internet. I sit down to "check a few emails" and suddenly an hour has gone by. When we spend so much of our lives in front of a screen, then we do have less time to get things done.

Also, my truly relaxing time isn't in front of a screen. I like to knit (sometimes I knit while watching a movie, but my primary activity is the knitting, not the movie). I need to knit everyday just for my sanity. So if I don't have time to knit because I've been on the internet, I don't feel relaxed, even though I've just been spending "me" time. Some "me" time doesn't actually relax, because you feel, at the end of it, that you have just lost two hours of your life.

I wonder, then, how much of our busy-ness simply stems from the crazy ways we spend our leisure time. I talk about this a lot in To Love, Honor, and Vacuum: When You Feel More Like a Maid Than a Wife and Mother, but sometimes I need to remind myself of the concept. Often we turn to time wasters, like TV and the internet, because we're tired. We're exhausted. And we just want to relax. The problem is that these things don't relax us. So we end up worse than we were before.

This week I'm going to try something different. I'm going to only go on the internet to do specific things (email checking, blogging, fixing websites), and I'm not going to surf for no apparent reason. I'm not going to get caught up in reading news sites. I may catch up on the blogs I really enjoy, and I may check headline news, but I'm not going to surf like crazy.

And, in turn, I'm going to make sure that I have time to knit everyday, and I'm going to make sure that I have good time to talk with my kids. Perhaps the reason that we feel so busy isn't that we're actually busy as much as it is that we realize the important things in life aren't getting done. If we took steps to prioritize those important things, then we'd feel better. We'd feel more productive. We'd go to bed at night knowing that we had had a good day. I'd really like that feeling again, and I'm going to try to catch it this week! Are you with me?

Please leave a comment! Tell me if you struggle with this, too. I'd love to know if I'm alone or not!

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At 9:41 AM , Anonymous Timmy said…

I am completely on board with all that you said. Well..most of what you said.

You see, I have no idea how the article ended. Half way through, you convinced me to get off my computer and start my day.

So I'm posting this and shutting 'er down.

I do hope the article ended well. Will check back on say...Friday.

Have a good one,


At 12:06 PM , Blogger Mommy Bee said…

You're definitely not alone! I often find that I sit down to do just a couple of things online, and the next thing I know it's been two hours. I go back to my blog 3 or 4 times to see if there have been any new comments, I go back to my email to see if there are any new's pretty pathetic if you really think about it. :( I can't count how many times I've meant to get the toddler down for a nap at a certain time, and ended up not doing it until 30 (or 60, or more) minutes late because I was "just going to check one thing real quick."
I have been doing better in the last couple of weeks because DH and I started a policy of shutting down the computer when we are finished with something, so it's harder to "hop on for a second" because we have to wait for the slow start-up. But you've inspired me--I'm going to set a timer for myself starting this morning and when that thing beeps I'll shut down the screen and go knit and read and do those things I love to do but always seem to not have time for.
Because who are we kidding, we always have time for whatever we make a priority!


At 1:15 PM , Blogger Casandra said…

I feel like your post was meant just for me today. I had just put my son down for his nap and instead of getting to the household chores, I was sitting here surfing. I knew that I would just end up not getting things done, and then being unhappy about the state of my house and the fact that I don't "have time" to sit down and quilt. Then God led me to your post.

I am going to log off now and take your advice on making a commitment to stop the time wasting activities so I have more time to do the things that make me truly happy.

Thank you for the beautiful words of wisdom.


At 11:21 PM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

I'll take the challenge with you, Sheila. Good words here, and Lord knows I needed them.


At 10:48 AM , Blogger Amanda #1 said…

I'm not so bad about sitting down to watch TV, but the internet is definitely a time-suck. I can't tell you how many times I've thought to myself: you'd get a lot more sewing/knitting/quilting/organizing/cooking/etc... done if you would spend more time DOING it and less time reading blogs about it.


At 5:05 AM , Blogger Jen said…

I haven't fully read this book, I seem to skip around in it, but I do like what he says. I too find my computer to be a magnet with black hole tendencies. It sucks away the life I could have with my family.

I hope you were able to reduce your computer time so it has been a useful tool instead of a vortex of time wasting.

Best wishes
Jen in Oz

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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