Well this girl, with power lost, almost pitched a fit. How would I possibly write my blog post and finish editing chapter 17 without my precious iPad!?!? I felt lost and helpless and a bit pissed off. Until I made a shocking revelation...YOU GUYS! Guess what I had in my writing bag? Real paper and a ballpoint pen! The kind that writes really smoothly. Soooo...I carried on and wrote this blog post the way they did it (as Bella says) in the olden days. (See evidence in exhibit A.)
Friends, please tell me when you last used a pen and paper. Was it for a list? A thank you note? A check to the PTA for the hundredth time? I so rarely write anymore. Almost everything has been automated these days and you know what they tell us? "Automation makes things easier. More convenient. It simplifies things." Guess what...that's a bunch of S#@&! What automation really does is make more room in our busy schedules (that we've piled high, by the way,) so we can shove more crap into each day. We've been conditioned to think that if we have free time, we're slackers. We're missing something critical. Life simplified makes us uncomfortable. We prefer to call ourselves "CRAZY-busy" when in fact, we're responsible for the constant spinning of wheels. We're at fault for the "CRAZY."
So when I say "WE" that completely includes me. And maybe I'm not describing you. You may have that balance nonsense all worked out. In that case, please feel free to disregard this entire post. But if any of this sounds familiar, please read on.
Now I would never suggest we abandon technology and things that make life in these modern times more convenient...no way! I love my easy-access, immediate-gratification, check-it-off-the-list-faster-than-you-can-write-it electronic devices too much to consider such a drastic measure. But what I suggest is that we preserve some of that time that we create by using our time-saving tools, to slow things down, to relax, to get back to basics. We work hard and efficiently to earn those few extra moments and they should be used to restore not detract. (Although this writing with a pen and paper thing is requiring me to sllloooowwww down, my hand is beginning to hurt from this antiquated mode of recording, so I endorse Apple products for all of your writing needs.)
Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about what a "Back to Basics" philospophy entails. With the new school year underway, carpools and activities pouring in and over me, balancing family and work and writing and life, it can sometimes feel overwhelming, right? I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this. Not one of my friends has recently said to me, "Hey Jenn, isn't life easier now that the kids are growing up. Isn't the three-schools-thing a breeze? And they hardly have any homework! What are you doing with all your free time?"
Nope...NO ONE says that!
But we, as the parents, are responsible for that often-insane calendar. True, some things are out of our control but it is our job not to overcommit ourselves, or our kids. Be it volunteering, sports, work, school, social activities, whatever! It's our job to save/find/create some time, for our kids to learn about the importance of TIME. If we introduce some semblance of peace in their busy lives, they will learn how to slow down; they will understand the intrinsic value of downtime; they will learn how to evaluate what's essential; and when necessary, how to get back to basics.
So here's a small sampling of what I'm going to attempt to implement in my home as we transition into this new, sure-to-be-busy year:
1) Family dinner. It's not just for weekends and restaurants, friends! I'm going to find at least two weeknights where we can get six butts in seats, at the same time, for a home-cooked meal. (Home-cooked may come from a bag or a box...just being real here.)
2) Bedtime stories. For the young and the old, I'm bringing them back! As we tuck them in, even when we're so whooped we can barely see, Michael and I are going to read with our children, FROM A BOOK, at least a few pages. The books may be in electronic format, but they will be real books.
3) Tucking in. The love and patience will OOZE from us as we read the pages, tuck the covers, kiss the faces and share the "something specials" that happened during the day. We will listen and soak in these sentiments because friends, we are running out of time. I've done the math (WITH A PEN, not my iPhone calculator - see exhibit B) and I only have around 1460 tuck-ins with my girl, assuming she goes to college and doesn't allow me to be her roommate, or if local, let me come over every night to tuck her in, which might freak out her roommate. And I don't want to miss the opportunity to remind her how important she is to our family. So tuck-ins, with great love and appreciation...they're on the list.
4) Date night. Twice a month. It doesn't have to be fancy, or at night. In fact, a trip to the beach with just the husband counts. I want to connect with the man who, half the time, is the better part of our duo. And the investment is worth it. After all, in roughly 2555 days, it will be just us. (More math with a pen. I'm pretty good at multiplication however, I'm losing feeling in my fingers from all this real writing.)
5) Slow down and savor. Family time, conversations with friends and little, everyday blessings, like the beach without my iPad. It's amazing what you see when you pause for a moment and lift your face from the screen to admire the beautiful ocean, or really look into your partner's eyes, or take in your child's face, their features change so fast you can miss it. My grand plan is that numbers 1-4 will all lend to the success of 5. It's a lofty goal...I'll keep you posted.
So that's it. My "Back to Basics" campaign. Feel free to adopt one in your home if needed. I can tell you, the change won't be too drastic. We need technology. Not only do we crave the convenience and the immediacy of the electronic age, but it allows us to be connected in ways that are invaluable. My plan is to alleviate the congestion in the airwaves, and resist the urge to fill up that precious time saved with more to-do's. Instead, we will fill it with more moments that matter.
How about it? You in?