Now that summer is in full swing, our schedules are a bit more relaxed with slower days and routines that feel less- well, routine like. We are bookending the summer with visits to extended family and many pool days in between. As I began thinking about how we will spend this summer I considered several things that I want to do away with and many things that I want to keep in our “off season.” We spent most of last summer unpacking boxes and getting acquainted with our new town, so now that we are a little more settled in I feel like this is our first official summer in Gallatin.
Speaking of Gallatin, we are really enjoying life here- the people, our church, the access to scenic nature spots, and the convenience of Nashville are wins for us- thankful for God leading us to this incredible community! I guess the only thing to say now is “Go Preds!”
So back to summer. While there are things we are pulling away from like music lessons, gymnastics, formal academics, and a predictable routine, we are not completely abandoning our habits at the expense of needing a break. Because character cultivation does not take summers off. In planning what we will do for the next two months or so, I asked not “What will we do?”, but “Who will we be?” come August. This may seem like “overachiever” talk, but really it’s not. It has more to do with being intentional with the things that matter and less to do with trying to do it all. In this way, we can truly let go of all the non-essentials- all those things that can wait- and continue with the essentials maybe with a popsicle in hand. 🙂
Habits Worth Keeping
1. Chores– When we had spring break, one of my daughters complained about having to do her chores saying, “Mom, it’s spring break. We don’t have to do any chores.” Haha! She is hilarious. But really. There are so many opinions on chores and age-appropriateness. I don’t know if there is a best way, but this is my way: If they can do it themselves, then they will do it themselves. I have one chore for each girl every day in addition to their daily chores like making beds, putting clothes away, brushing teeth, clearing the kitchen table, keeping rooms tidy, etc. All this stuff must continue through the summer or I will be overwhelmed in mess and unruly kids, and they will forget what it means to be responsible come the fall. And I will forget what it means to be sane! 😉
2. Bible lessons and Scripture memory– We’ll continue memorizing Scripture weekly and reading through different Bible stories. We are about to begin Foundations for Kids: A 260-day Bible Reading Plan for Kids, which Travis and I are excited about. Right now we are reading through different story Bibles/devotionals with each kid before bed, which is working right now for that one-on-one heart-to-heart time, but we are about to bring them all together again for a more family devotion/discipleship time.
3. Music Practice– We are taking a break from sports and music lessons this summer, but we are still practicing piano. Analise is learning the ukulele and Kara the guitar as well, which adds a little extra spice to the Fleming household. All we need is to get Judson on drums and we can start a band!
4. Reading– Each of the kids (even 2-yr. old Judman) are participating in our local library’s summer reading challenge. For every 15 minutes they spend either being read to or reading themselves, they get to color in their reading sheet and after so many hours they receive prizes. I have one reader, one emerging reader, and one non-reader. We make a library trip once a week, which is a habit we’ll continue through the summer for sure.
5. Math/logic/reasoning– We play a lot of games, including board games and some card games. It is all fun and no real “work,” but it feels good knowing that we are exercising our minds and learning how to be good sports when we win or lose. The girls have a couple of math workbooks we will take out on occasion, but we won’t work through them every day as we do during the school year.
6. Character building– Charlotte Mason has a motto that the girls and I say often which is, “I am, I can, I ought, I will.” In essence, it is:
I am . . . a child of God, a gift to my parents and my country. I’m a person of great value because God made me.
I can . . . do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God has made me able to do everything required of me.
I ought . . . to do my duty to obey God, to submit to my parents and everyone in authority over me, to be of service to others, and to keep myself healthy with proper food and rest so my body is ready to serve.
I will . . . resolve to keep a watch over my thoughts and choose what’s right even if it’s not what I want.
One of the points Miss Mason made was that a strong-willed child is really not strong at all, but truly is weak in will. He has yet to master his emotions or control his impulses. We talk a lot about self-control, the fruit of the Spirit, and how Christ enables us to love others because He has shown us what love is. Character building is continuous, not just for children, but for all of us. There are individual lessons and character issues that my kids are learning for themselves, and we’re working on/praying through together. The Lord is teaching me so much through my kids and through being a mom. For one thing, I am more deeply aware of my inherent need for daily grace- that abundant grace that our Father so freely gives, and of my dependence upon Him for wisdom, guidance, and strength.
I think we need to take a summer off, and we are already finding rest in these early weeks. But, there are some habits worth keeping even while we rest. We will have our lazy days, later nights, movie watching, goofing off times, but we will try not to go completely off the rail where we don’t know which end is up come August. Habits help us. They inform our decisions and form our character. This is true in every season- even in, especially in summer.