As I think about summer I’ve found myself realizing that I identify with Olaf. You know, the snowman from Frozen. He sings about Summer as being his favorite thing, although he’s never experienced it. And so the other characters in the movie know that if he was ever to get a taste of summer, he’d be sorely disappointed: he, of course, would melt.
In some ways summer as a Mom with children at home all day is much like this. The idea of summer is wonderful: rest, reading, enjoying the beach, lazy days. The reality of summer is that the extra space can birth craziness. The constant challenge of meeting everyone’s needs and yet trying to provide the fun that everyone longs for in summer is just plain hard.
So, as I enter my first summer with five children at home all day, I’m working to eliminate the unnecessary and prioritize what is most important. Much of this will probably morph as the days go by. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned about having a large family (and, really, just about life), it’s that people’s needs are constantly changing, schedules get interrupted, and life is unpredictable.
I made a few lists:
- Must do’s
- Want to do’s
- Dream of doing’s
Yes, this is horrible grammar and maybe simplistic, but it helped me to categorize things in this way so I can focus better.
MUST DO LIST: feed people, clean people, clothe people. And then because I know myself, I also included in this the chores around the house that need to be done in order for me to keep my sanity. If there are piles of laundry, clutter scattered throughout every room, and beds unmade, I will go crazy.
Mallory and I worked on a list of all the chores that MUST be done, and I’m going to make a chart for our family to ensure that we maintain our home. “Work hard, play hard” is what I’m telling the kids. A little bit of time every day spent in keeping our home organized will serve each of us, and anyone we want to host in our home, much better.
I wrote down some simple meals. I want to be able to enjoy long afternoons at the beach or playing with friends, so my meal list includes only ones that are quick, relatively healthy and kid-friendly-ish. The kids gave me their favorites, and I’m stocking the freezer with meat as it goes on sale, so we can easily grill out and add a few more people at the last minute.
WANT TO DO LIST: It’s pretty simple: go to the beach, have company for dinner, read, work on a little bit of school work, and enjoy one another.
Doing the beach with all five kids by myself is a bit daunting. BUT, we’re going to give it a try. I just hope Cooper will stay immobile through the end of the summer.
Bradley and I talk almost daily about who to have over for dinner. Hosting people has always been something that we enjoy and we try to make it a priority. We’re excited to deepen friendships and start new ones around our table and front porch this summer.
My library tactic is to mostly place books on hold and then pick them up without the kids in tow. In an effort to minimize my stress levels, we’re going to keep library trips to a minimum, but reading to a maximum. One of our summer projects is to finish up a reading nook in the girls’ room so they have a spot to sprawl out and read comfortably.
We are so thankful for our decision to put the girls in public school this past year, and we’re planning for this again next year. However, there are some gaps that I’d like to fill in during the summer months, so they’ll be doing a little bit of ‘homework’ each week.
Being at home all day every day with everyone can either be a recipe for dissension or an opportunity to love. We are going to strive for the latter and make every effort to teach and demonstrate kindness, love, gentleness, and patience with one another.
DREAM LIST: It’s kind of short, but I made it this way because I don’t want to end up disappointed if these things don’t get done.
Blueberry picking, going to see a movie, a trip to Williamsburg, and taking the ferry to Portsmouth. These are not lofty dreams, but they are just things that require a lot of mental preparation for Bradley and me. This is just the season we are in, folks.
During the spring I read Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. One of the things that I took away from this book was the idea of savoring. Big moments and small, she talks about finding joy and delight in the experiences of life. This is how I want to approach our summer. I long to savor — to enjoy to the fullest — every moment of my time with my children, our extended family, and friends old and new.
Summer can be a time of great stress, thinking of all the ways I’m going to need to entertain everyone, keep up with all that needs to be done, and still instruct my children in Christ-likeness.
Or I can look at it as a training ground. Another opportunity to be molded and shaped into who God wants me to be as a Mom.
I want to be thankful for the fresh training ground and come to love summer as a Mom. I want to embrace this season with grace, joy, wonder and delight. I want to respond to my children in gentleness and love. I want to exemplify Christ to them in these long days that we will spend together.
So, I’m striving to:
Have realistic expectations.
Cherish the moments as they come.
Hold my plans loosely.
Look for the beauty beyond the moment.
Focus on Christ.
Here’s to a summer of savoring.