With a calendar littered with doctors’ appointments, business meetings, birthday parties, baby showers, weddings, and family barbeques, and a daily list of chores and responsibilities too long to measure, “busy” was my middle name.


We live in a culture where being busy is expected and even glorified, so it was easy to fall into the trap of simply accepting my busy lifestyle. However, as the first year of my first-born’s life sped by, I realized being busy was a real problem for me and that I had to do something about it. If “busy” was my problem, the solution for me was to get “unbusy.”

I knew unbusy was not something that would just happen for me one day, that I’d have to make it happen for me and my family. With a full-time job, part-time photography business, hobby farm and all the obligations that come with being a mother, friend, partner, sister, daughter and more, getting unbusy was not an easy task. It started by bartering time I’d normally spend taking care of the house for time spent enjoying our yard and animals. Then we got brave by saying “no” to a family barbeque one Saturday and the bridal shower of a distant cousin another. We spend unbusy time just relaxing around the house, going for a walk at the beach, or a grabbing lunch. We have unbusy time by not saying “yes” to everything.

The key to being unbusy is committing to it. If you are really going to ignore the pile of laundry that needs to be folded in favor of spending time in your garden, you have to be okay with it. Unbusy doesn’t work if you beat yourself up over the things you’re ignoring or you feel guilty about the party you skipped.

Some people are naturally good at being unbusy. These are people who instinctively make downtime a priority. Other people, like myself, need to make a conscious effort to be unbusy, scheduling downtime in their busy lives. For some, unbusy means simply relaxing and lounging, maybe with a good book. For others, unbusy is active, like biking, painting, yard work, or home improvement projects.

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Written by: Holly Brown-Ayers is a mom, farm owner, marketing specialist for Care New England Health System, and professional photographer.