As my kids have been counting down the days to summer vacation, I have been counting them down too. As a teacher, I too look forward to the end of the year—a break from lesson plans, grading, and lectures. I look forward to three months of rest, rejuvenation, and refueling. Everyone has their favorite time of the year. Summer is definitely mine.
But wait… I have kids of my own…and they require my attention. Perhaps rest and relaxation will need to be redefined.
When my kids were young, I remember wondering how in the world I was going to keep the little cherubs busy for 15 hours a day, 12 weeks in a row. I set up an elaborate calendar of playdates, swim lessons, and activities to keep their minds and bodies active. I tried to make every day a fun adventure. I compiled a list each summer of places we’d visit on sunny days, and places we’d go on rainy days. I took trips to my parents’ cabin, trips to McDonalds, and trips to Daddy’s office—just to let him know how much fun we were having. My kids loved summer, and wanted it to last forever. And part of me loved it too. But by the beginning of August, I was praying for deliverance from my scheduled craziness and together time. The start of the school year felt like a vacation from my summer vacation.
My kids are older now, a teen and a pre-teen. Summer feels different now, and I feel different too. As I look forward to the end of the school year and the start to the greatest 12 weeks of the year, I’ve been doing some planning. But this year’s planning does not involve a lot of the things it used to. This time I’ve made a list of what I’m not going to do. I tried to keep it to a top 5, but I somehow made it to a top 6. Feel free to add your own to the list.
1. I won’t be signing my kids up for too many activities. There is a summer camp for every activity, every week, and every sport. Do my kids really need to do all of them? I don’t think so. Will their art aptitude be stifled or corner kick stunted if I don’t have my kids running around each day trying to improve on their every talent? I say no. And, as the #1 chauffer-in-chief, this rule will also keep me from spending my summer in the car wishing away the greatest weeks of the year.
2. I'm not going to let my kids make summer all about them. Sure, it kind of is, but then again, it’s my summer too. And for summer to work the way it's supposed to, there are things to do around here. There will be fun, but there will also be chores. At their ages, they can do virtually everything I can. This summer, I’m going to let them.
3. I won’t be keeping my kids from being bored. Some of the most creative times of my life came from being bored. I remember cooking up some crazy ways to make a buck with my best friend, Andrea. We would use my Dad’s dental plaster to make hanging plaques and sell them door-to-door for a quarter. We built forts out of discarded wood with the boys in the neighborhood. We collected frogs and built them a sand castle to live in (they didn't make it through the night). We’d ride our bikes for miles and lie in the grass in the middle of the outfield with our faces to the sky dreaming of what we’d be when we grew up. Boredom produced some great memories, and I want my kids to feel the freedom to dream.
4. I won’t be afraid to have people over even when my house is displaying the well-worn effects of sandy kids and last night’s dishes. I trust that they really are there to see me and that the status of my bathroom doesn’t define the status of our friendship.
5. I won’t be afraid to relax. The success of the previous commitment will lead to the success of this one. If I can commit to having an open house that is free from my own judgment, then I think I will find myself allowing that time at the end of the day for relaxing rather than for readying. Sitting in the screen porch with a good book or sitting on the couch with my son are just two worthy ways to spend an evening. After all, it’s summer, and it’s fleeting.
6. I won’t forget to worship. Sometimes our weekends get a little out of whack. We forget that while Sundays are perfect for an early morning golf round or a little fishing out on the lake, Sundays are also perfect for spending time with God and those who gather to worship Him.
Summer is almost here, and this year I'll be ready for it.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.