5 life lessons from "The Very Busy Spider"

Did you know that Eric Carle’s beautiful “The Very Busy Spider” has five profound lessons for us adults? Me neither, until it hit me right between the eyes as I was reading it to the resident toddler. Naturally this epiphany happened while I was wrestling with him to not turn the pages before I had finished reading the text…


Anyway, back to the pearls of wisdom in between its thick board covers.


For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading it, the “Very Busy Story” is a wonderful tale of a spider who built her (yes, it was a her) web over the course of a day. It’s also a story of what it took for her to accomplish that task.


Lesson #1 – early birds catch worms

The first important lesson to me was about when the book began – early one morning. Some of you will hate me for this, but I am an early morning person. I love the moments of silence when the world is beginning to wake up and the calm before the storm of the busyness of each day breaks.


I’ve also noticed that many successful people seem to wake up relatively early to get a head start on their own day (Look here for more). So before you dismiss it out of hand – maybe just try it. Just once. You might even like it.


Lesson #2 – now is the best time to do what you need to do

And in that early morning, the spider began – right away – to build her web as soon as she landed on an appropriate spot. She didn’t wait around. She didn’t do lots of research to discover if there was a better place. She worked in a place that was “good enough”, right here and right now.


This made me sit up and think. How many times do I wait for “perfect conditions” – kids asleep, the right skills to hand, a new computer – before I start working on something I’m passionate about.


Lesson #3 – focus on the task at hand

Despite a long list of potential distractions including being invited to:

  • Going for a ride with the horse;
  • Eating grass with the cow;
  • Running in the meadow with the sheep;
  • Jumping on the rock with the goat;
  • Rolling in the mud with the pig;
  • Chasing a cat with the dog;
  • Taking a nap with the cat;
  • Going swimming with the duck; and
  • Catching a pesky fly with the rooster


    The spider persisted in her task. She single-mindedly focused on what she was doing and didn’t let the noise around her distract her from what she was doing.


    This lesson applies as much to the “working” as the “mom” part of my title.  Especially the “mom” part. I need to remind myself every day to focus on being with my children when I’m with them. To put my phone away. Not to check my e-mails. Just to focus on talking with them, playing with them, being present with them.


    Did you notice something else?


    None of these apparently fun and attractive alternative activities would have been a good idea for the fly.

  • She might have got squashed under the horse’s, cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s hooves.
  • She might have drowned in the pig’s mud wallow.
  • She might have got caught in an altercation between the cat and the dog.
  • She might have wasted her valuable time in a cat nap.
  • She might have been eaten by the duck or the rooster.


So sometimes activities that other people enjoy may not be right for you. (Yes all you 35-year old introverts, you don’t have to feel bad about the small detail that you’d rather eat glass than go out to a night club.)


Lesson #4 – the current task is a means to an end

The fourth lesson blew my mind.


The spider didn’t build the web just because she wanted to create something beautiful. She created something beautiful that would also make sure she could eat. I wonder how many times I think about my daily work tasks this way – as something to do beautifully and to the best of my ability even though the final outcome of cash in my wallet can feel a bit prosaic.


Lesson #5 – you are entitled to your rest once you’ve done a job well

I hope all moms everywhere read this last life lesson from “The Very Busy Spider”. At the end of the day the spider went to sleep. Yes, it meant she missed out on the Owl’s praise for her beautiful web – but that didn’t mean that the Owl didn’t say it (or mean it).


And that rest meant that the Very Busy Spider probably woke up early the next day to do it all over again;-).


If you would like to buy a copy, please feel free to use this quick and easy Amazon link.


At Zoowun we believe in making each child the hero of their very own stories. We offer:

  1. Quality personalized children’s stories;
  2. Delivered in e-book format almost instantly;
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