In Part 1 and 2 we talked about redefining what “your family’s best summer ever” might be. I encouraged you to pray, talk to your husband, realize that God changes our plans, and remind us all that He may have lessons for us to learn in what might not feel like “our best summer ever.” Next:
4. Consider all the family’s goals.
What are the activities that will make you feel like, ‘Now it’s truly summer.” I encourage you to enjoy simple pleasures. The breeze on a summer day. The sun on your face. Swinging from a tree swing. Running through a sprinkler. Reading a really good book together under a tree on a blanket. Having a picnic. Younger children can tell you what they would like to do and you can write it down.
As a stay-at-home mom and Homeschooler, it was easy to let comparing myself to others guide me. Just because my friend grows a massive garden and cans hundreds of jars of tomatoes each year doesn’t mean that’s God’s will for my family. I don’t have a green thumb at all, but I used to try, because all my friends were doing it. I thought I had to have a massive garden and do lots of canning to be Godly. Though I’m not very good at gardening (I can kill just about anything really well:), I saw a natural gifting and interest for gardening in my daughter, and know that it’s a valuable skill to have, so I worked to train her in that, and now I leave gardening to my husband and daughter, who love it and are good at it. She has a wonderful herb garden, among other things she grows, which blesses our family.
Goals May Change from Year to Year–And, That’s OK
Goals and objectives may change from one year to another. Illness, relatives or friends staying with you, or a baby’s arrival may impact your planning.
Our emphases were different from year to year: One summer we were preparing for our baby daughter to arrive. That summer we also grieved the loss of my father, and my mom came and stayed with us to help with the baby. One summer we were going through a crisis in our church which consumed our emotions and time. One summer we were focused on going to chemotherapy treatments, after finding out I had ovarian cancer. Some things will be planned, others won’t.
My husband and teenage son built a deck together one summer, and another summer they cleaned up all the rock beds and landscaping. These were valuable lessons in building a strong work ethic, and bonding between father and son. When our children were 10 and 14, our summer vacation was centered around an inexpensive family vacation. We purchased a family membership to our state’s Historical Society and took day trips to state historical sites. Then we had them write reports and put together a booklet with photos. These are not only treasures, but reinforce the love for learning, and accomplish “school” in a fun way.
If you have a family reunion to attend, read my article on how to handle when relatives question your child-raising and decisions (these situations seem to pop up).
Perhaps this summer your family is feeling a need to pull back from activity and rest more.
5. Plan for Margin.
Allow for unexpected activities to spring up, because they always do.
Margin–that white space around all the words on a page is like the non-planned time around all the scheduled activities in your life–and it is absolutely necessary!!! Your body and family will demand it, whether you plan it in or sickness and stress make it happen. I first heard about this concept at a state Homeschooling convention many years ago in a workshop by Dr. Richard Swenson, who wrote a book by this title, but I have experienced the truth of this principal, and lived it out, ever since.
Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, by Dr. Richard Swenson
For me, picturing summertime from a century ago is therapeutic. Sitting under a shade tree on a blanket enjoying a picnic lunch. A breeze gently blowing the wispy curtains through an open window. I hear the birds and…quietness! I envision myself swinging lazily in a hammock reading a really good book. Your picture of how your “margin” will look may be different than mine, but we all need it.
If we commit our works to the Lord, our thoughts will be established. Proverbs 16:3. I pray you and your family will have a wonderful rest of the summer.
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