When You Are Too Busy For Friends

Friendship

 

I have a confession to make: when it comes to making friends and friendships, I’m pretty hopeless. Not intentionally! I have always only had a small number of people around me that I consider real “friends”, even though I have many acquaintances and chat to many people in my day to day life.

That isn’t to say that you can judge a person by the number of friends he or she has. When it comes to friendships, I strongly believe in quality over quantity.

I’m hopeless because I have let so many friendships, or potential friendships, slide away because I was always too busy to keep up with everyone. Sometimes months and years would go by before I would see a friend. One of my oldest friends: we would see each other once every two or three years and the beauty was that when we did finally catch up, it was as though we had just seen each other the previous week. Time never mattered to us, and we both understood that we were leading completely different lives with different priorities.

But ideally, we should be making more time to cultivate strong friendships because friends are people who bring us happiness and help us out when we are in need. Friends are an extension of our families and in many cases, friends ARE our families. As the saying goes, we can’t choose our family, but we can choose our friends.

An article in the Huffington Post in 2012 outlined the results of a British study into friendships amongst middle aged people and found that people aged in their 50s who had at least 6 close friends were happier than those who had fewer or no friends. The article also pointed out that there have been studies that show that friendships have just as much an impact on the risk of death as smoking, obesity, drinking and physical activity do.

But why are we too busy for our friends? What makes us put busyness ahead of friendships?

Investment in the wrong friendships

Often the issue surrounding spending the time with our friends and working on our friendships is that we often invest time with the wrong types of friends- people who in fact are not our friends and do not deserve our friendship. This brings about feelings of resentment, anger, stress and tiredness. Who wants to spend time with someone who brings us down, someone who brings out the worst in us? Yes friends are allowed to have disagreements and issues, but there comes a time when we have to cut ourselves free from this type of friendship and accept that it’s time to move on.

Our time is valuable, and we want to spend our valuable time with people we care about who nurture us and bring out the best in us. These are the kinds of people we want to hang out with, laugh with and share life’s special moments with.

Getting caught up in life

When we begin a new stage in our lives, sometimes our friends take a back seat. It could be that we have married before our friends have, or have started a family and are going through different trials and tribulations to what our friends are. This can cause two friends to suddenly find that they no longer have anything in common, or they have to make more of an effort to find the time to spend together.

I can definitely attest to this. Getting married, having kids and moving to a new part of the city caused me to become so focused in what I was doing that I drifted away from many friends I had beforehand. Again, not intentionally, but because we were leading different lives. I didn’t feel like going out on a Friday night when I had a baby I was breastfeeding. Sitting at home in my pyjamas watching TV started sounding more appealing than weekends out partying. That’s just life.

But when we start to focus more on things that are not truly important, and we are so stuck in our busyness that we can’t even look up to see what’s going on around us, that’s when we need to start asking ourselves whether our priorities need to be shifted. Are you working two jobs, not having the time to spend with those you care about and not seeing your friends because you need more money to be able to buy more things: a bigger house, better car, better appliances? Are these things that important to you that you are willing to stop spending time with friends? Lose a valuable friendship over?

Our own definitions of friendship

How we define friendships may play a role in the amount of time we invest in them. Do we hold onto friendships we have had for over 20 years regardless of what is going on in the present moment- are we turning a blind eye to things that are hurting us, because we have known Johnny since we were five years old? Are we too afraid to get out there and meet new people? Do we have a “comfort zone” of close friends and are too comfortable to introduce someone new to our group? Is making friends more difficult when you are an adult than when you are a child? The answers to these questions may be contributing to not creating new friendships.

Today is the International Day of Friendship, a day to think about the friendships we currently  have and maybe look forward to the new people we will be friends with in years to come. Let’s try and spend a few minutes today catching up with our mates: maybe a quick phone call, a text or email. Let’s think about the types of friendships we now have- are there any that we can begin to let go of? Let’s spend some time engaging in a conversation with someone new we have just met. Who knows where the friendship will lead to?

 

When Playing Uno Takes Priority

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

 

Today, washing the dishes came second to playing with my kids.

If you visited my home today (and I’m glad you didn’t), you would have seen a kitchen bench covered in pots, pans, plates and cutlery, some leftover food and a couple of glasses and mugs. But you would have also seen a mother and two of her children playing Uno and Trouble, and having a laugh.

Miss 6 was home sick with a cold, and instead of making her rest in bed while I carried on with my day, she wanted to play games with me. She begged me for about two hours, and I finally gave in after my second coffee, and I’m so glad I gave in to her. We spent three hours playing, laughing and teaching Miss 4 the difference between a number “2” card and a “Draw 2”.

I could have refused to play with my girls- I had plenty of other things that I could have occupied my time with as there’s always something you can do to distract yourself, but sharing a special moment like this together with my kids is something that I will someday look back on with fondness. The housework will always be around, bills will always have to be paid and groceries will always need to be purchased, but a child wanting to play a game with her mother may not last many more years.

One day, mum will be uncool to hang out with and friends will take priority.

It’s like that old Harry Chapin song, “Cat’s in the Cradle”, where the father is too busy to play ball with his son and before he knows it, his son is a grown man who has turned out just like him- too busy to spend time with his father. The sad irony.

Kids remember things about their childhoods that you would not expect them to remember- not the expensive toys they owned, but the random moments that we consider trivial. Miss 10 remembers throwing an apple core out the car window, and every time we drive past the place where she threw the apple core, she brings up the story.

Playing Uno and Trouble today is probably going to be Miss 6’s “apple core” story- something she will talk about in years to come- and I’m glad to have sacrificed a clean house for a memory my kids can cherish forever.

3 Ways To Get Back On Track

Strayed off path?

Strayed off path?

 

Recently I found myself straying off the path I was on before, the one that was making me happy and focused on getting to where I want to be.

One of the beautiful things about life is our freedom to choose what path in life we’d like to take, and our ability to change paths and directions. Sometimes, we find that we are led astray and on a path that takes us somewhere that conflicts with what makes us happy, somewhere that is at odds with what we really want to do. And although this may make us feel uncomfortable, lost, confused or busy, we can take steps to get us back on track.

Here are 3 tips on how to get back on track:

1. Small steps and transitions can get us back into the swing of things- getting back on track might not happen overnight and it may take awhile but the end goal is that you will get back on track. We need to accept the process that occurs and not beat ourselves up because we strayed onto a path we weren’t happy with. Get over that feeling of regret or guilt and focus on moving forward.

2. Celebrate the small achievements along the way: When we learn to have gratitude for the smaller things in life, we soon realise that these “small” things are anything but small, but are actually the building blocks of something much larger. Recently I returned to running after a month off due to a number of other things I needed to give attention to. My first run was nothing like the last run I completed, and I did originally compare the two runs and feel a bit deflated for not having run as well as I did previously, until I recognised the smaller achievements: the fact that I ran at all, and that even though I had walked at the halfway mark, the fact that I found the physical and mental strength to run the last section was a great achievement.

3. Create a less busy environment: We can stray from the path we were on by being caught up in the busyness of our lives, which distracts us from what we are trying to achieve. This happens to all of us, myself included, but if we allow ourselves to get caught up in busyness we will lose sight of what is really important. We can take simple steps to make ourselves unbusy and therefore allow ourselves to get back on track- read here for some tips on making yourself unbusy.

Thanks for reading! Remember to subscribe to my monthly newsletter and blog post updates- my July newsletter will be sent out very soon. I’d also love you to leave a comment- it can be very quiet and lonely in the blogosphere!

9 Tips For An Unbusy Bathroom

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

 

I have a confession to make: this is one area of my house that I have had trouble keeping under control.

My bathroom vanity contains an assortment of make up, hair care products, hair styling equipment and accessories. Amusing considering I rarely wear make up, but maybe understandable since I have three daughters- two of which have had dance concerts and competitions.

Nevertheless, that is not a good enough excuse to hoard all kinds of crap in the bathroom, mostly for “just in case I need it” purposes.

Today I went through all the make up and personal care products in our vanity and was able to cull down the items to a manageable amount that we use on a regular basis. And I filled three shopping bags with rubbish!

Here are some quick tips on decluttering your vanity and having an unbusy bathroom, making it easier and less busy for you to get ready in the mornings (or before a night out!):

1. Check the expiry dates on all creams, sunscreens and other make up items and throw out those that are passed their use by date.

2. Throw out any empty containers, bottles or tubes.

3. Discard any make up that you no longer use- e.g. eye shadows that are no longer in fashion (that’s right, that blue eye shadow from 1983!).

4. Make sure any electrical appliances such as hair dryers and straighteners are still working. Dispose of any that are no longer operating, and if there are any that you no longer need- see if you can give to a friend.

5. Use up anything you’ve found that you haven’t used in a while, before buying a replacement (nail polish, hand cream etc…)

6. When putting everything else back into the vanity, put like things together, and most frequently used items should be in easily accessible places.

And for parents of a child who has to wear stage make up:

7. Have the stage make up in a storage container or make up bag separate to your own items.

8. Check the make up items several months before the performance to see if there is anything that needs to be discarded or a replacement purchased. Nothing worse than realising on concert night that the mascara has dried up!

9. Keep hair accessories separate to the make up- hair clips, pins, brushes, nets, elastics etc…

The bathroom may not seem like an obvious place to declutter, but buying beauty and personal care products can sometimes get out of hand and result in a disorganised and messy vanity, making it more likely to have a stressful morning routine when you are looking for that new tube of toothpaste or the perfect lipstick to go with your outfit!

Let It Snow

Growing up, I always wanted to go to the snow and every winter I would constantly nag my parents to take us. Dad hated the stuff, having grown up in the northern hemisphere with very cold winters and the pitfalls of living in sub-zero temperatures (and apparently walking kilometres to school in the snow in bare feet- this seems to be a common story told by European parents and dad assures me its a bit exaggerated!).

Finally, my parents decided that the following day they would take the family to the snow for the very first time. But the next morning, we all woke up with chicken pox! So our family snow trip never eventuated.

Fast forward 25 years and my husband and I finally decided to take our own family to the snow. This would be my first taste of snow in Australia but I had been to a ski resort in Europe, although during the middle of a horrible blizzard so I didn’t venture outside for very long!

We took the family to a mountain about 90 minutes drive from Melbourne’s CBD, Lake Mountain. This is a fairly small mountain which is easy to drive to and is ideal for families wanting to play in the snow without forking out hundreds of dollars to stay on the resort. There is cross-country skiing available and they do offer ski lessons for those wanting to be a bit more adventurous.

The resort has a restaurant and a gift shop, as well as a place to hire all equipment including ski’s and toboggans. We had previously purchased snow clothing from Aldi, including boots and gloves but didn’t think to bring beanies to cover our heads- myself and Miss 6 purchased beanies from the gift shop. We hired one toboggan to share between us at a cost of $32, but I believe these can be hired for a smaller price from one of the nearby towns such as Marysville.

 

Building a snow man at Lake Mountain

Building a snow man at Lake Mountain

 

Tobogganing was a huge hit with the kids and adults alike! Fortunately when we arrived around 10am the crowds weren’t too bad, and I have been advised that some days (especially school holiday weekends) can be extremely busy that they end up closing the resort gates by late morning so its best to arrive as early as possible. Plus the snow is nicer before the masses have trodden all over it!

Once the kids got tired from tobogganing, we went back to our car where we enjoyed our packed lunch. We kept it simple with homemade sandwiches and a treat for the kids and our own bottles of water (food can get expensive at these kinds of places!), while I packed myself a thermos with leftover dinner. We saw other families around us doing the same thing- one family had packed their own homemade rice dishes!

Following lunch, the kids decided they wanted to build a snowman so we made our way over to an area away from the tobogganing action, where one could play around in the snow or even take a nature walk. Have you ever tried walking in snow? Its as tiring as walking on sand at the beach!

We worked on the snowman together, except for Miss 6 who decided she wanted to build a mini-version of a snowman which funnily enough looked a lot like Olaf from the Disney movie Frozen:

Olaf from Frozen?

Olaf from Frozen?

 

We finished off our day with some more tobogganing before saying goodbye to Lake Mountain.

Lake Mountain ski resort

Lake Mountain ski resort

 

Goodbye Lake Mountain!

Goodbye Lake Mountain!

 

For those wanting to venture out to Lake Mountain or any other ski resort, here are some tips to keep your trip unbusy and enjoyable:

-Plan to arrive at the resort earlier in the morning to avoid traffic or the possibility of the resort turning you away due to large crowds. This also allows you to enjoy the snow before the large crowds arrive.

-Check before leaving if chains on your car tyres are required. On the day we visited, the roads were clear and no chains were required.

-Take a packed lunch from home to avoid expensive purchases at the kiosk.

-Pack beanies! These were more effective than the hoodies attached to our ski jackets.

-Pack a spare outfit for each person in case of wet clothing. Also bring along a garbage bag to store wet ski clothing.

-Pack some “eyes” and a carrot, scarf etc…for a snowman!

-Remember that it is very cold and that younger children don’t cope with the cold as well as older children or adults. Expect that you may not be able to stay all day long. We stayed for four hours, but the younger two started complaining about the cold after 2 hours.

Thanks for reading! If you’ve taken a trip to the snow with the family and have some other tips to share, let me know!