Would you be shocked if I told you that summer is my least favorite time of year? Now, don’t get me wrong. I love camping with my family nestled among the towering evergreens of the Cascades, or dipping my hot pink pedicured toes into the vast Pacific Ocean as its waves lull me into a stillness that is rarely achieved in the chaos of normal living.
But summer has its frustrations, too. Especially for one who thrives on a schedule. Enter: me.
The school year hosts a merry whirlwind of activities, with studies taking place during such and such a time, music lessons landing here and there, gymnastics, basketball and youth group landing predictably in their perfectly arranged time slots. It’s beautiful I tell you. Beautiful.
Then summer arrives and the schedule disappears. For many this is a delightful freedom. My children, for example, are never ever gloomy at the prospect of seemingly endless free time. Indeed for three of my four, it’s their favorite time of year.
So what’s a schedule-loving mama to do?
She creates a routine for herself, still allowing her children to enjoy the freedom of less structured days.
Now, I’m aware that my mind, body and spirit do need this time of rest. So I’m not going all military on myself. But I’ve found blessing in the summer days that are approached with a sense of purpose.
Of course each day, no matter the time of year, carries with it certain responsibilities. There’s always a pile of laundry to fold, a meal to prepare and a toilet to scrub. This routine just doesn’t go away.
But these duties don’t fill our day the way a school schedule often does.
To keep my mind, body and spirit on track this summer, I’ve adapted a concept that Ann Voskamp wrote about over at A Holy Experience. She recommends keeping a checklist in order to develop daily habits in three areas. The areas I’ve chosen to pursue for myself are knowledge, health, and beauty.
Each day throughout the summer, I’ve purposed to pursue at least one intentional activity that will develop each of these areas in my life. For example, my knowledge for this day might be to write out memory cards for the portion of Scripture I’m working on. Or perhaps knowledge means working on a piano piece or spending time with Dickens and a cuppa tea.
The pursuit of health for this day may be a morning walk or a dietary goal that I’d like to attain, such as limiting sugar, upping the fruits and veggies or making sure that I’m drinking plenty of water. Health also includes rest: a sleepy mama is a cranky mama. Sometimes my health goal for the day is simply to get to bed at a decent hour!
Beauty is perhaps the easiest and most fun to add to my day. Yesterday I took pleasure in arranging a bouquet of fresh lavender, hand delivered by my ten-year-old. The heady scent adds a perfect touch of beauty to my bedroom.
Earlier this week I invited a friend over to tea. My girls eagerly prepared the table and arranged the scones to their liking. This, to me, was truly a moment of beauty.
Naturally, each woman’s pursuit of knowledge, health and beauty will look slightly different, depending on her interests, hobbies and lifestyle. How might you adapt these pursuits to add a bit of structure to your own summer days?
Taking the time to acknowledge the benefits of nurturing our minds, bodies and spirits not only adds a little bit of predictable structure to that lazy summer day, but it also enriches a mama’s soul. That schedule-loving mama will feel good about her accomplishments, further enabling her to minister to those sun-kissed, water-splashed, berry-stained kids who are thriving in her care.
Julianna can be found writing at Petunia June.