An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Intentional Unscheduling

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Intentional Unscheduling

In a world where busy reigns supreme, sometimes intentional unscheduling is exactly what you and your family needs!

Transitioning from senior leadership level work to a SAHM and then later a WAHM was one of the most challenging things I've ever done. I went from having my day planned out with so much work that was either my direct responsibility, the responsibility of a subordinate contractor or that was delegated to me that there was never any question of how I'd pass my hours in the office to a wide open schedule that was (and in many ways still is) dictated by toddlers' health and moods. I was used to being able to accomplish tasks on my to-do list; suddenly, my to-do list was entirely my responsibility to fill (or not). I learned that in order to get anything done, I had to make a schedule. I had to plan my own activities.

If you're feeling over scheduled, read this on how to simplify your life to become happier and more fulfilled

And then later, when this blog became profitable, I had to seek out relationships, opportunities and other means to earn a living. What was once handed to me by other people, I know had to craft and create on my own. I was entirely in charge of my own schedule. It's easy to over-commit yourself. There are too many people who are terrible at saying no, either at work or in their own lives. It's even considered "bad" to NOT be busy these days. What a bunch of rubbish! This is how I intentionally unschedule myself and the kids' lives in order to remain sane, happy and healthy. 

This post is actually a continuation of this post I wrote about how busy people think they're more important than others. And nothing could be further from the truth! I actually got a really mixed bag of reviews on that post; mostly, I think, from people getting defensive on their own busy lives. Hey I get it. Sometimes we don't even realize how over scheduled and busy we've become until we're completely worn ragged and the little things (or even some of the big things) in life no longer make us happy. We look at less busy people or happy people and judge them for not having "a life" or think "if I had ______ like that person, I'd be happy too but I'm stuck doing _____ and _____ all day long!" As hard as it is, when we're unhappy or judgmental or snarky or spiteful towards others, we need to turn that pointing finger around at ourselves and examine what's going on internally. I've found, it's likely that you're so busy you don't have time for hobbies or adequate rest or are forced to keep a pace that's plain exhausting. And that's plain miserable. 

Gotta make time for this!

Intentional unscheduling is a means of giving yourself some grace. It's actually scheduling in down time. It's saying no to a play date; to a business-related coffee date; to a night out. It's literally penciling in time to just BE. That looks different for everyone, but just being can be pursuing your own hobbies, taking the time to go to a new yoga/workout class, starting a garden, finishing that book you've been meaning to read for the last month, taking your kids to the park, or giving a new recipe a try. The BE part is whatever is relaxing to you and brings you joy.

This takes practice to begin with. You might need to actually write it in your planner or fill up an appointment slot with whatever BE activity you want to do. This is a great idea if you're someone who struggles saying no to things, because once it's scheduled, you really don't have to say no - you can say, "Shoot, I've already got something booked then! Let's get together another time, ok?" Boom, easy out and easy way to unschedule the not-so-fun things so that you can spend more time taking care of yourself.

Another facet of intentional unscheduling is not signing up for additional activities to begin with. When you do that, you have less and less you have to say no to! For example, many of my friends with similar aged kids already have their 3.5-4 year olds in soccer (or dance or swimming etc etc). Most of them have their kids in multiple activities. They spend their day racing around trying to get their kid to all the crap they've signed them up for. Nope. I'm not doing that. At that age, the kids aren't learning any real skills beyond socialization and most of the parents talk about how their kid cries on the field the entire time, after they've gotten up at 6am on a Saturday for a "game." Why do that?!

Gotta make time for this too!

When my children are old enough, and can ask me to participate in sports or activities, then I'll register them for ONE thing per season. One. More than one and it's just exhausting for everyone to shuffle around all day long trying to make it to practices and games, etc. My stance on extra-curriculars is, when a child is old enough to tell me they want to do something, we'll pick ONE thing and give it a try. If they like it, we'll do it again. If they ever want to stop, we will. If they have multiple interests, we'll do one thing first, then when that season ends we'll do the other. After a day at preschool/kindergarten and playtime at home or on a play date, there isn't much time for more than that unless you want to over-schedule and exhaust yourself and your child.

Intentional unschduling is absolutely as simple and as challenging as it sounds. You have to say no to things. You have to intentionally leave blank spaces in your calendar - or, pencil in whatever low-key activity you plan on doing instead. You have to leave time for you to practice self care and to be with your family. We should not ALWAYS be busy doing things, multitasking (which I call half-a$$ing because multitaskers usually have a$$ everything they're doing) and being on the go. It's not a healthy way to live. It's an exhausting way to live. Intentionally unscheduling yourself will make you a calmer, happier, more rested person!


  1. I'm working to do this in my own life more. I wrote a post about "busy" several years ago, and I think it still remains true. It's not important to be busy. We all have things on our plate. It's all about how we prioritize time - and scheduling time for NOTHING is important, too... even if it's not ON the actual schedule. ;)

  2. I agree with scheduling in downtime. I do that for myself a few days a week and it saves my sanity.
    You and I differ on the activities for kids. A has done swim since she was two and can swim like a fish now. And she does dance year round and seasonal sports. But I don’t think we’re over committed with any of it. She has activities two or three days a week and that’s all. I’m totally cool with that.

  3. YES! I have always taken time to be unscheduled but since having my LO in July I've realized how important that unscheduled time is for me! In a world of go go go it's nice to take a step back from that.

  4. I am so in on this. We have older kiddos ( 6 & 9) and they still haven't asked to do anything outside of school because they are so grateful for their normal down time after school and on the weekends, which is ok by us. We always say you sign your kid up for something, you are signing yourself up for something, and I like my down time waaaayyy too much! Plus, we make it a priority to have dinner together every night, and I HATE having stuff during the dinner hour. Great post! Leah


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  6. I absolutely believe in intentional living, and scheduling this just happens to be a part of it. Of course we must remember to schedule time for taking care of self. And sometimes taking care of self means doing nothing. All the very best as you continue to live intentionally

  7. I love how you call me time, intentional unscheduling. I love intentional living and book appointments with myself, hubby and each of my children very regularly. So important!

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