Ready or not, here comes summer! Hip hip, hooray!
Let’s start our discussion in a positive fashion: isn’t summer grand! We’re excited about a slower pace, we’re excited about a more relaxing schedule. No more early morning alarms or uniforms to wash. No more lunches to make! Check ya later, carpool!
There’s a lot to love about summer, and I for one am always quick to romanticize. Oh the places we’ll go and the books we’ll read and the swimming holes we’ll explore. It’ll be 1956 all over again.
That’s the way I tend to think on this side of things, on the very front end of summer. School is out, here we go.
And then about three days in, I feel like I’m dying. Why does everything feel so hard? What am I doing wrong? Gone are all the dreamy notions of easy summer living, and I’m facing the cold, brazen reality that summertime involves all of my children being under one roof for many many hours in a row.
Summer is wonderful but it’s always a great challenge. A few years ago I discovered that the best way to make this season enjoyable and fun is to admit that it’s not as easy and relaxing as I tend to imagine. Here’s the lesson I learn every year: there is an adjustment period between school getting out and a summertime groove (and I’ve heard this applies across the board, including home-schoolers). One minute you’re in the midst of a beautiful rhythm and schedule and the next, boom. All gone.
I’m hoping that by reminding myself now, on the front end, that there is an adjustment period, well I’ll save myself the heartache of all those tears I shed when I look around and think “crud. What have I gotten myself into?”
So here’s my Survival List for the Summer:
Don’t forget that without a plan, the people perish. You have to have a plan. That’s part of what makes the transition painful. While it’s nice to be out of the school year grind, day after day of open-ended nothing isn’t always the best idea. It can make the days feel very long indeed. Of course, each family must find a plan that works best for them. Some people can’t imagine an hour-by-hour calendar; some can’t live without it. Whatever you do, have an idea of where you’re going.
Make your plan realistic. This has always been my problem. I love having a plan, but it takes a little work to make my lofty goals work for the size and makeup of my family. I have five sons. We are probably not going to hit a lot of crafting hours at the local fabric store. Have good ideas, make them fun for everyone.
Phone a friend. Feeling crazy? Call your momma. Or your sister. Or a friend who won’t be freaked out to answer your call only to hear you sobbing on the other end. In moments like these, you need a lifeline, someone who is smart enough to reserve judgement and tell you how very normal you are. You need to hear the words “you are not crazy. It’s going to be okay.” This is the hardest part of summer: when you think everything in order and a great plan and…it still feels hard. It’s okay. There will be days like that and you need someone to tell you to keep up the great work.
Finally, commit your ways to the Lord. First you pray. The best way to be in the center of God’s will, especially in the summer, is to give each day to Him. “Lord, what is your plan for our family this summer? What do you want us to learn, how do you want us to grow?” I’ve found the best way to be at peace with how things are going is to constantly commit things to God. And then, when I’ve given it all to God, I can recognize that each summertime moment, good or bad, is an opportunity to serve God.
This originally appeared in The Southern Cross.