The following is a post from contributing writer, Julianna, of Petunia June.
With the last day of school quickly approaching, I find myself experiencing conflicting emotions. I do look forward to the change of pace, the relaxed days and the beckoning outdoors. But to be completely honest, I also feel a bit anxious. Going from a fairly rigid school schedule to practically no schedule at all can create a whiplash effect.
Of course I want my children to relax and play and enjoy their summer break. But I also know that they thrive when they are given a somewhat predictable schedule. They know when to work and when to play, and because of that they can feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of their day.
A couple of years ago I read The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. I was struck by something that her teenage daughter observed:
It seems to me that those who really know God should be more loving, more deeply driven with enthusiasm about their purpose in life . . . more creative and more excellent in every way. Shouldn’t knowing God change them forever?
I want to instill in my children a healthy sense of purpose as they grow and mature. I want them to pursue excellence and creativity in every way because we serve a God who is excellent and creative. I want their lives to stand out as testimonies to the One who has given them such great minds and abilities.
I was also impressed by an idea that I found over at Inspired to Action. A reader suggested using Luke 2:52 as a framework for summer plans:
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
She found ways in which her children could grow in each of these areas (mental and physical growth along with service to God and others) while embracing the unique freedom that summer provides. What a great way for children to grow!
This led to the creation of our own family plan which is a modification of the ideas I’ve gleaned. I don’t want us to waste our summer. I want us to live intentionally and fully.
To help visualize this, I (very eagerly) created a Summer Goals chart that has rows for each person in our family. The three columns include “Places to Go,” “Things to Do” and “Books to Read.” Each person gets to choose three items for each category. Here’s a peek at our first chart, which I later displayed on the fridge:
Our “Places to Go” are not extravagant or expensive. For example, we might visit the local pool or spend time at the humane society. Family hikes and camping trips are also favorite ideas.
For “Things to Do,” I encourage the kids to think of three hobbies or skills they’d like to develop over the course of the summer. In the past they’ve chosen activities such as making ice cream, knot tying, and embroidery. I’m hoping to further develop this area to include goals that encourage us to share in our community as well. Perhaps we could visit a nearby rest home or spend time volunteering at the local shelter.
The “Books to Read” column is pretty self-explanatory. We each choose three books that we’d like to complete. The children often take part in our library’s summer reading program which really makes those pages turn quickly. Summer book clubs can be a great way to encourage reading and discussion among peers as well.
I anticipate that our summer mornings will include a bit more structure — the “mental growth” we want to develop: reading, piano, chores, and the hobbies that they’re pursuing. Afternoons are ripe for exploring and the “physical growth” that rapidly takes place during the summer months. There are frogs to catch, wildflowers to admire, berries to pick and trails to explore.
I know that not every day will be seamless and productive, and that’s okay. There will be wild, exciting days filled with youth camps, family visits and traveling. There will also be days when we need to do nothing but rest. There will be late nights and lazy mornings. There will be days of structure and there will be days of chaos.
But God has given our family these days, and I want to use them well. I want to embrace the excellence and creativity that He’s bestowed on all of His children, and I want to take delight in the One who has given us the freedom to live, laugh and love, each and every day.
Julianna, who is slightly addicted to charts, writes about family, faith and the fullness of joy over at Petunia June.