Thursday, July 1, 2010

Take Time to Breathe

Swimming. Overnighters. Bowling. Library. Friends. Chores. Boating. Picnics. Reading. Camp. Teaching. Family. Church. Fireworks. Zoo. Camping. Road trips. Cleaning. Movies. Organizing. Serving. Playdates.

All of the above list are things that we have crammed into our summer days and nights. These are all good things. Some of them are necessary, but many are not. Some of them are initiated by us, but often they are someone else's idea. But the truth is, when I look at this list, it just makes me tired.

See, I require a lot out of my kids in their time off from school. They help out at home, they have chores, they read, write, and review their schoolwork to stay current, and they learn to be responsible for themselves. We have so much to accomplish and when the work is done, we play. But sometimes, what they crave is just rest. Time to be a kid. Time to get bored enough to get creative. Time to think and to listen and to learn.

Cloud-watching. Catching lightning bugs. Building forts. Holding kittens. Reading. Baking. Learning Morse code. Friends. Swimming. Family. Exploring the woods. Sending smoke signals. Mud pies. Spying. Naps.

All of these things are things I hope my kids do at some time over the summer. Some things appear on both lists and neither list is exhaustive, but it is up to me to see that my kids have enough down-time from the things on the first list to find the things on the second list.

Why is it that we think we need to keep our kids so busy? I know part of the reason is because we need to spend so much more time with them compared to moms and dads of the past. When I was the age that Justice is now, I rode my bike all over town with my two friends, checking in at mealtimes. Everyone else did too. It was safer then and our parents didn't think a thing about it. I still don't like it when my kids backtrack an aisle at Wal-mart to retrieve a forgotten item. But, I think somewhere along the line, most of us give our kids too much. Too much fun, too much money, too much stuff. They need to want and save and rest to learn to be the people God wants them to be.

God knew we needed rest. He gave us one day a week to rest, recharge, and renew. He gave us permission to celebrate holidays and holy days when we take a break from the routine and the "must do" and relax and experience the "get to". When we don't take it, we get just like our kids do when they've run too much--cranky, uncooperative, and depressed.

I know there are so many tempting things to cram into summer. But do yourself and your kids a favor and say no to a couple things here and there and do just nothing. See where your imaginations (and your uninterrupted free time) take you. Give yourself permission to accomplish nothing except to feed your soul, relax your muscles, and take a deep breath. We'll all be better for it. And who knows you may end up with a killer fort in your backyard, a great idea for a story, or a kid able to send smoke signals to the neighbor in the event that you run out of sugar in the middle of your chocolate chip cookie recipe.

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