Summer calls for long, lazy days. garden play, adventures out - no routine and a freer more relaxed attitude to life. The children thrive on the freedom to play without too many time structures and I thrive on the lack of the school run rush. It's a win-win.
But sometimes the enjoyment of the freedom can run the risk of turning into a laziness about life... actually, the summer is the most intensive season of the year with my children. I have so many hours to be purposeful in my parenting... opportunities for focusing in on specific unsavoury behaviours, chances to try new things together as a family; days span out ahead of me with hours and hours of opportunity. And all too often, I let them slide by in a flurry of activity without any purpose whatsoever. It's the biggest opportunity for purposeful parenting of my calendar, yet all too often its the most unpurpose-driven season of the year.
So I sat down last week, in the quiet of naptime - two girls playing in their room (I think there were sharks involved!) and two little boys fast asleep, and asked myself... what opportunities do I want to take for the children, and for us as a family this summer, and how am I going to make that happen?
It was a precious time... a valued lesson gained from my long hours in hospital in April, was a recognition of how little time I give to reflection. I'm doing the most important job of my life, and too often I live it out in the passive mode.
Reflection is crucial to motherhood.
So I'd invite you to do the same. If you can find five minutes somewhere in your busy day, to stop and think and ask yourself what you want to make of this summer... routine is gone, the days are longer and the hours stretch out before us... how are we going to redeem the time? What goals do we want to set for our families this summer? What areas for growth have you identified for each child? And be purposeful, be specific...
And most of all, be realistic - it is the summer holidays, after all!
Here's what we came up with...
The Morning Table
The first gathering of the day around the breakfast table... a slower, non-rushed version of its term-time counterpart. I'd love to use this time to talk as a family, read the word together and teach our children the importance of an early devotional time together as a family. Starting our day in Scripture! It's the earliest part of the day, before adventures have begun and things get chaotic, and historically our holiday breakfasts have happened in dribs and drabs as different members of the family make it downstairs. I'm hoping that will change.
Wild and Free Play
We have big plans to go and explore the great outdoors! My eldest, particularly, would spend her entire day with her nose in a book or her hand on a pencil... this summer I'm hoping to encourage the children out and off independently more... to explore and have adventures, climb trees and hunt bugs, scrape knees and get grubby and come home for tea. Norway offers them the opportunity to a bit more freedom. Isn't that what childhood is for?
This is something I've long wanted to get into the routine of doing - for myself as much as the children, but term time is so busy, and the days go so fast that I have found it impossible to start a new routine. Not so this summer... our aim is to learn a new verse every week around the morning table... watch this space! Hopefully we'll be so established in it come September, that we can continue on once school restarts... one can hope, right?!
I've already blogged a little bit about this one... our girls are very creative. Both of them are hugely into colouring, sketching and painting. It's a little hobby I've recognised they are showing some natural ability in, and we're keen to encourage their creativity in that area. I'm totally up for the challenge too, so we have invested in special nature journals for the three of us, and are excited to record all the discoveries we make this summer in sketch and watercolour. I feel like we're all going to learn a lot.
I was really struck last week, while reading the Bible with a friend from church, what a key player 'kindness' is in the New Testament... obviously, the greatest kindness is demonstrated in Christ's sacrifice for us, but the call for us is to reflect that to the world... and where better to start than in those sibling relationships? I'm keen for this to be a bit of a theme for us this summer... a word we make a bit of a strapline! And it's something I'm all to quick to forget too... not just a lesson for the children I feel!
A bit like the scripture memorisation, regular chores are something I've long wanted to establish for the children, but felt utterly helpless to do in the midst of busy school terms... and so we've figured out chores for each of the littles this summer (excluding Elias)... I might try and write a post about this at some point, but I've been convinced that training them early in this department may be slow, but is well worth it in the long haul!
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to let you know how we're getting on with each of these, give some practical ideas of how we're implementing them, and a realistic report on how its going. Six years of motherhood has taught me that even the greatest, most watertight of plans can be shot to pieces by little people. But the intention is a start, and with the intention comes an increased likelihood of redeeming a little more of the time this summer than we would have otherwise...
So the question remains... what are your goals for yourself, your family, your children this summer? Where are you hoping to see growth and development? I'd love you to join me for the ride! Just drop a comment below!