New York Times writer, Tim Kreider wrote an article in 2012 coined “The ‘Busy’ Trap.” He described our lives as one that was filled with work, activities and obligations. Our children are even over-scheduled. He called it the ‘busy’ trap because when we ask someone how they are doing their response is usually: “I’m busy, so busy”.

Being busy “makes you feel important, sought-after and put-upon.” You may even crave the “busy trap”.

Here we are in 2020 and our so-called busy lives have come to a screeching halt.  All of the schedules and activities and things we had to do have been put on an indefinite hold due to the pandemic we face with COVID-19.

We’ve seen the memes and the posts about having to be home with our children while they are on a hiatus from school. How we are trying to balance working from home and entertaining our children at the same time. For years I have told people, “if only I could work from home sometimes” or “I am so tired, I just need to get some rest” or “I’ve been gone since 6:00 this morning and it is after 6:00 p.m. and we are still at basketball practice” or my favorite “If only I had time to do the things I really need to do at home.”

The complaints about being busy and tired were endless and they were because we were over-scheduled as a family leaving little time or energy for anything else. However, this sudden halt in our busy lives has made way for more idle time.

As Tom Kreider put it “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections…”

I know for me the “stay at home” time has been difficult some days. From the kids screaming, saying they are bored, feeling sad because they miss their friends and all while working from home has been hard to manage.

However, I sit back and think about all the things I can do now, that I have put off for years. To me these aren’t big things, but the simple experiences we take for granted.

Watch a movie uninterrupted with the kids.

Like seriously sit down and watch an entire movie without feeling obligated to clean house or being tied to a bedtime or our phones. The Good Dinosaur and Abominable are really good movies for families with lifelong lessons. Disconnect from the Busy Trap.

Sit on my couch with big cup of coffee and look out the window at the nature around me.

Anyone who knows me knows that I usually have a Yeti tumbler filled to the brim with coffee to get through the day. Those Yeti cups are now replaced with very large coffee cups and the views from an office to the views outside my window. Forget the Busy Trap.

Take a walk every day in Downtown Austin and explore the places around us.

I have been telling my family for the past year and a half that we need to explore our neighborhood. Our schedules have prevented us from fully taking advantage of downtown living. Now that the city is at a standstill we can walk around without fear of crowds and make a list of where we want to go once the “stay-home” order is lifted. (And yes, we are staying more than 6 feet from others.) Are you exploring all that your neighborhood has to offer? Leave behind the Bust Trap.

Soak in every moment with my kids without getting distracted by calendar reminders and invites.

At this moment we don’t have any particular place to be but at home. So while here, I am going to cherish every moment they are here with me. One day our lives will return to normal and these moments will once again be fleeting. Disregard the Busy Trap.

Watch intently as they interact with each other, share big belly laughs and bond as sister and brother.

The screams come from him chasing her around the house and tickling her. The laughs comes from them playing in his bed in the morning. They bond as he holds her hand while they walk in the park. These are the moments I wanted sketched in my mind and in their hearts.

Call, write, Facetime and otherwise connect with family and friends.

My son actually wrote a letter to his cousin last week. It was a part of an assignment, but we are going to mail it off. Let him know that we miss him. We make it a point to call and check-in on those important to us and connect with them through Facetime (what would we do without it).

And of course, at the end of all of that clean, organize and donate items we no longer need or use.

You know, clothes they (or you) can’t fit, toys they have stopped playing with, dusting the fans, blinds and least I say, behind the couches. Organizing toys, papers from work or school, mail and everything in between. We will all make Marie Kondo proud.

This time in our lives is not ideal, yes. Will it end eventually? Yes. We cannot control how or when it will end. What we can control is how we respond during these times to our family and those around us.

Janina Roberts, M.A., LSSP, a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology married to her college sweetheart, Allen, Sr, for almost 14 years. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Trinity University. She and Allen have two children, Allen, Jr. (7 y.o.) who is very active in sports and a loving gentle soul and Aelicia (2 y.o.), who is very independent and a spit-fire. Janina is what some would call a military brat who moved frequently. She was born in Louisiana, moved to Las Vegas, NV then Abilene, TX where she graduated high school. Janina is currently pursuing her Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership while also working full-time. She is avid party planner especially her kid's birthday parties and loves eating ice cream from Amy's. On the weekends you can find her at the track field, at basketball and football games cheering on her son, AJ.


  1. This is a fantastic article Janina!!! I receive Austin Moms emails and I recognized AJ and showed Simone ! So now, y’all are famous 🙂 great article and great tips for the always busy moms out there. 💜


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