In a recent post on Slow Family Living I offered the idea of "scheduling spaciousness" as a concept for moving into the end of the school year intentionally and thoughtfully. The post itself received lots of feedback and one reader asked, "What does that even mean to schedule spaciousness?!"
In this fast moving world, here are, in no particular order, ways to schedule family spaciousness...
1. Factor in more time than you think you'll need.
Whether it's two minutes or 20, give yourself and the people in your home enough room to breathe between activities. Whether you're picking up kids at school then getting to the dentist, or leaving the house for a party or going from work to home, factor in a few more minutes than you think you'll need for seeing, connecting and enjoying the people you're with. By planning for the ability not to rush, you will feel happier, too. And just think how much more pleasant you'll be in traffic!
2. Do one less thing than you think you can do.
Need to get everyone out the door in the morning? Need to get everyone to the table or to bed? Decide to schedule in a few minutes of just sitting. I'm talking two to three minutes, if that's all you have. Leave the last dishes or the email or whatever is the thing that you scurry to do before you move onto the next. And if two to three minutes feels like too much, take one. Just one minute of standing, breathing, witnessing or even drinking a big glass of water can give you the pause you need to connect with yourself and with the people in your home.
3. Put family time on the calendar.
Be it a few hours on a weekend or an entire day, write it on the calendar so it doesn't get taken up by other events. We schedule everything else, why not schedule that too? Have a bi-monthly family calendar meeting, and fill in times that work for everyone. As our kids get older, they need more input on this matter so adjust it according to everyone's developmental place.
4. Decide not to rush.
Sometimes the feeling of rushing is more about the feeling than about the actual clock. When wrangling so many little people, it can feel like panicked frenzy is the only option and like if you don't create a feeling of hurrying, nobody will get anywhere. Try, one morning, to just let go of the clock and simply move through the necessary steps of getting out the door. Create a mantra for yourself. I use, "All I can do is what I can do." For myself I know that when I am rushing and rushing those around me, things spiral in a counter-productive direction. When I let go and we just move through the steps, we actually seem to speed up. And more times than not we are earlier than ever.
5. Pause before you RSVP.
Whether you are invited to a party or a committee. Before you respond, pause. And determine the cost vs. gain for you and for your family.
6. Examine your commitments.
Look at your calendar. Assess what's on there -- meetings, parties, events, etc. Then ask yourself, "Is this working for us?" Ask weekly or monthly, at least. If it is, keep it going. If not, find a way to make a change.
7. Decide to be done.
You will never really be done. So decide to be done. At various points throughout the day, simply decide to be done. And take a few minutes to be rather than always doing, doing, doing.
Like right now! I'm done!