When Joanne Kraft answered the door, she didn’t quite look like the picture of someone who’d learned how to slow down.
She forgot a Cameron Park Life writer and photographer were coming.
The 43-year-old wife and mother of four has a great excuse. She’s in the middle of a publicity tour for her first book, “Just Too Busy: Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical.”
Life has, again, sped up for the Cameron Park family — Joanne, her husband Paul, 41, and children Meghan, 19; David, 16; Grace, 12; and Samuel, 10. This time around they know how to handle it … thanks to a dramatic move that eventually became a story everyone will want to read.
In 2006 the Kraft family found themselves much busier than they ever wanted to be. Joanne’s life had turned into a game of “Busy Mom Poker.” “I’ll see your dance recital and raise you three basketball games.” The calendar overflowed with activities and, Joanne said she just thought, “This is how life is.”
But a conversation with a friend changed all that. They talked about their hectic lives and the question came up: “What if we did nothing for a whole year?”
Nothing. No sports, no extra classes, no activities that would tie up the calendar week after week.
“I asked Paul and he said, ‘Let’s do nothing,’” Joanne said.
The kids couldn’t believe it when their parents shared their plans on New Year’s Day 2007. “At first I was a little annoyed,” said Grace. “But I got over it.”
“It was pretty interesting, actually,” added Sam.
With free time on their hands, the family piled in the car and enjoyed outings — picnics, ice skating, a daffodil farm tour. Each family member got to pick what they would all do for a day. The transition was most difficult on the Kraft’s teenage daughter, Joanne said, “But by month 10 (Meghan) actually enjoyed us.” When it was her turn to pick the family activity Meghan suggested they just sit around in their pajamas and watch movies.
“They’re fun to hang out with,” Grace said of her parents and siblings.
Sam observantly added, “And they’re a lot less boring that I thought.”
The family learned how to talk and “just be together,” Joanne said, adding that it’s a good lesson to pass on to your children. “What we’re instilling in our kids now is what we’re going to see later (when they have kids).”
The Kraft’s “radical sabbatical” caught the attention of Joanne’s friends and fellow parishioners at Sun Hills Church. They suggested she write about it. The project started as magazine and blog articles, and then blossomed into the book. Now Joanne’s promoting the book on the radio, in local papers and she’s headed to the Mothers of Preschoolers convention in Nashville, Tenn., in August. The East Coast trip will also include a book tour.
“It’s been pretty overwhelming,” Joanne said.
But the new and more relaxed Kraft family can handle it and Joanne said she’s excited about sharing her message with moms all over the country. As she put it, spending time with family shouldn’t involve “tossing cheeseburgers in the back seat and yelling at the kids over lost shin guards.”
“Just Too Busy: Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical” is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com. and Christianbook.com. Beginning this month you can download an electronic version for Kindle and Nook.