Written by Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things.
I have a bad habit of thinking that summer is time lost. You know what I’m talking about, right?
It seems that every time we take a couple of months off of school completely, when we finally get back to hitting the books in September, each and every one of my kids has forgotten details like how to write a complete sentence or that 2+2=4.
After all, we pour so much into our teaching during the year! If we take the summer off and lose ground— well, that’s time lost, isn’t it?
But on a recent Quiddity podcast, Cindy Rollins (mother of nine now-graduated homeschooled kids and someone I look up to very much) convinced me that summer break is not time lost, even if it looks entirely unproductive.
Summer break is time gained.
“Any time we take special care to grow as a person is going to spill over into your next school year,” Cindy said. And then she went on to encourage homeschooling moms to read a lot, and to carve out time for full-stop breaks from homeschooling in the summer.
We’ve moved to a year-round model of schooling in our home. These last few years, we’ve had a whole lot of new-baby-and-toddler action going on, so I’ve come to rely on summer to catch up and do the things we didn’t find time for during the school year.
But if we want to be peaceful, restful homeschooling moms who come to the table with full energy stores in September, perhaps we ought to see our summer as time set aside for something different.
Not time lost. Not time-to-catch-up. But time gained.
After that chat with Cindy, I got to thinking about how I could make my summer really count– how I could use it as time gained to help me be the kind of nourished, rested, intentional mama I really want to be.
Books read in the summer have a different kind of impact on me than books I read at other times of year. I have no scientific proof to back that up, but I’m certain it’s true. 😉
If you, like me, are out of the reading habit, perhaps choose just one book- an easy read- and see what happens. When I’ve lost my reading groove, I find the best way out is just one easy book at a time.
A good book will give me the impetus I need to pick up another, and another. Need good recommendations? You can’t get much better than the Summer Reading Guide at Modern Mrs. Darcy.
Even those of us who school year-round can put a full stop on structured learning for at least pockets of time. So many of our best connections are made when we aren’t doing the active work of learning.
Downtime spent at the lake, hiking a trail, napping under a tree, kicking dirt mindlessly in the backyard— that’s when the pot simmers, so to speak.
It doesn’t have to be the whole summer- it doesn’t even have to be a whole month, but making a point to set aside time to be, and to let our kids be, may very well go a long way.
After all, we’re people. Humans. And we need time to let that humanity flourish and grow and be without the pressures of checklists and academic goals.
My favorite way to refresh is to take a long walk with a good podcast going. I come back inspired, rejuvenated, and ready to take on my life with a little more oomph.
Just a few great podcasts to get you started (there are lots of other great ones, too!):
- Inspired to Action
- Homeschool Snapshots
- The Art of Simple
- Life, Listened Podcast Network
- Read-Aloud Revival– I admit I’m a bit partial to this one 😉
What refreshes you? Maybe you need to take a walk in complete silence, an hour in a coffee shop every week, or a Jane Austen novel and an iced tea lemonade.
Don’t think of it as me-time. Think of it as pouring into yourself so that you can better pour into your family.
I don’t know about you, but even though I try not to, I tend to see my kids as projects. I’m trying to raise virtuous humans, and in my zeal, I tend to get a little… shall we say… hyper-focused.
I spend more time with my children than anyone else on the planet, so I know the little nuances of their facial expressions, what sets them off, what makes them happy, and where they need most to grow.
And then, because I’m their mother and I feel the need to set them up for life success in every way possible, I set out to fix their weaknesses.
But children aren’t projects.
I find that every so often, I need to remind myself of this truth. I need to just look at them. Just stare into their faces. Cup their cheeks in my hands and… relish.
Quirks and all, my children are, in fact, delightful human beings- crammed full of love, energy, big ideas, and indomitable spirit.
When I can’t manage to remember that, it’s time to pull out the board games, roast marshmallows over a crackling fire, hop in the car to take a spontaneous day trip, or spread out a huge blanket in the backyard and eat cookies for dinner and read a happy stack of picture books.
I’m taking Cindy’s advice seriously–making sure that even if we do have plans to pursue certain areas of study this summer, we also have full-stops planned in there too.
Time to read for long luxurious stretches. Time to rest and let things simmer. Time to refresh and refill our energy stores. And time to relish in the company of our kids.
What about you? How are you planning to use your summer as time gained?