Ah, summer. Don’t you just love it? No more school work. No more soccer. No more robotics. No more dance. No more packing lunches. No more early mornings. No more…you fill in the blank.
Summer break is great because it is just that – a break. A break from the chaos we call life most of the year.
It’s a time to slow down, spend time as a family and enjoy the freedom of actually having free time!
Living a fast-paced life with a packed schedule is the norm for most people. But what if it wasn’t? What if you could feel the relaxation of summer all year long? What if your kids could just be…kids?
Participating in activities is not bad. But not participating isn’t bad either!
I have four kids, and we homeschool (you can read about our transition to homeschooling here). Part of our reason for homeschooling was to slow down. But the busyness crept back in. There are so many great opportunities to get involved with here! Then we have to tack on the extra time to drive everywhere (from the country).
Last year life was just too chaotic for me, bouncing from one activity to the next. We hardly had time to do our actual school work!
Changing the Pace
So this year we’re trying something new. We’re stepping back from most of our activities. We have a newborn and a farm to care for. Those two things alone are like full-time jobs. This year we’re focusing on our school work at home, spending time together and embracing a slower pace of life.
We took our summer break early to welcome baby number four. So our school year is kicking off here in July. I am looking forward to not having to rush around.
Does slowing down life sound good to you? Here are some of its benefits.
Why You Should Allow Kids to Get Bored
Believe it or not, it’s good to let your kids get bored. It allows them to think and be creative. If they are constantly entertained and directed in their play they don’t have to use their imaginations. Be intentional about unstructured free time…and make sure there is time for it! A couple hours a day to explore, imagine and play is critical for raising a creative, independent thinker. This includes staying away from screens.
Time to Build Sibling Relationships
One thing I loved about summer growing up was how much time I had to play with my brothers and sister. Now as a parent it’s so fun to watch my own kids learn and explore together. My oldest two are ten and seven. Almost every afternoon they go outside together and have some kind of adventure, from building a fort in the barn to being explorers out in our orchard.
When life gets too busy we lose the chance for this time of bonding, and it shows. They start to argue and fight much more. My oldest was just away at camp for a week. My son missed her so much! He was so happy to have his adventure buddy back.
More Time for Family
Time together as a family is one of the most important things on the list. When everyone isn’t running from one activity to the next, going in different directions there is time for family bonding. There is time to read, play games, make memories, be spontaneous, try something new. Even time to work together is important.
When kids are overscheduled they don’t have time to actively participate in home duties. And those are such important skills to learn! They need to know that caring for a house and family takes work. And everyone participates.
Doing things together as a family, whether work or play, is critical for building strong relationships and creating a sense of belonging and significance.
Making Time to Eat as a Family
I kept this separate from the other family activities because it is so important! Making time to cook real, nourishing food and eating it together in a relaxed environment is critical for good health.
This past spring my son was playing two sports…at the same time. That meant three nights a week he had games or practice right at dinner time! It made meal planning and prep very challenging for me. And we were either eating separately or rushing through an early dinner. I don’t want to repeat that.
Family mealtime should be a top priority.
More Time for Others
As Christians, we are called to serve others. But how can we do that when we are almost too busy to care for ourselves? Make sure there is room in your life for serving others.
Whether it’s a planned service opportunity or an unplanned need that arises. Maybe your neighbor’s babysitter canceled last minute. You can offer to watch her kids. Maybe a friend just had a baby. You have time to make her a meal. When we are so busy we can’t help others…we are too busy.
More Time to Explore
I’m not a spontaneous person. I always have a long to-do list and a schedule for my day. But I also try to schedule free time (as odd as that sounds). Sometimes it’s free time for myself…to read, do devotions, exercise, watch tv or maybe take a nap. But my favorite is free time with my family. My kids get so excited when I go outside with them for an adventure. We love taking walks so we can explore or just talk.
They also love to take field trips to go hiking, see the animals at the zoo, play at the park or visit a farm.
Free time is a great opportunity to discover passions. My oldest would read and craft all day if she could. So I try to make sure she has at least some time for one or both every day. All my kids love learning new skills in the kitchen (thanks to this online kids cooking class!).
It’s nice to have the time to let them practice. It is critical for kids to have time to figure out their passions. This will help them decide their career path. Otherwise, they graduate from high school and realize they have no idea what they want to do.
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Improve Your Health
We all know what being overscheduled does. It causes stress. And stress is at the root of so many health problems! By freeing up your schedule you will reduce stress and improve your health. Even having an extra 15 minutes a day to pray, meditate or do some yoga can be so beneficial.
Truly allow yourself to unwind and relax. This improves digestion and overall body functions. Plus it will help you sleep better. I think we could all use more relaxation and better digestion and sleep! Downsizing your daily schedule and to-do list can help. This is important for adults. But it is critical for children. No child should be struggling with health problems due to the stress of busyness.
Figure Out Your Why
I know it feels like your kids will get behind if they don’t play two sports and learn an instrument. But ask yourself…behind who? And at what cost? It’s kind of silly when you think about it.
One thing homeschooling has taught me is to stop the comparison. Stop trying to fit into a mold or standard. Stop worrying about “keeping up” with the other kids. Think about long-term goals. What character qualities are important to you? What life skills are important? Teach those to your kids (like how to cook!).
What is your definition of success? For me it’s allowing my kids to pursue their passions, using their God-given talents. It’s not getting a certain grade or following a certain path. One might go to college. One might go to trade school. One might start a business. And those are all fine! Success is being the unique individuals God created them to be, with a willingness to serve others. And I’ve found it’s hard to figure that out when life is too busy.
I challenge you to take a year to say no to the busy pace our culture considers normal. Be counter-cultural. Take a step back and see what opportunities to learn, explore, connect and serve to arise. You never know what God has planned when you’re not too busy trying to plan everything yourself.
I recently read this quote from Pastor Rick Warren:
In a 21st century world where we’re overworked, overstressed, and over-scheduled, this may be one of the most significant and freeing sentences you’ll ever read: You have just enough time to do God’s will. That means if you don’t feel you have enough time in your day, one of two things is true. Either: 1) You’re doing things God doesn’t intend for you to do. 2) You’re doing the things God intended the wrong way. God wouldn’t give you a list of things to do and not give you the time to do them. Either you’re trying to do too much or you’re wasting time.
I totally agree! Many of us are wasting a lot of time. Let’s turn it around!