Dreaming of Summer: Embracing Downtime

As a momma of four children, I find myself day dreaming about summer with the family. I am imagining barefoot children with sun on their faces running freely through the sprinkler in the backyard. I am eagerly awaiting leisure time to sleep in late and read great books aloud. I am looking forward to spending long days with the four little ones entrusted to me.

But, as a former teacher and an intentional parent, it is easy for me to over-plan the weeks and months ahead. I have purchased workbooks for them to practice lessons taught in school. I have dreamed up writing projects, thought about field trips to museums and the zoo, and scheduled a family vacation. They are signed up for camps and swimming lessons and summer jobs. But have I allowed enough time for rest and refreshment?

Value the gift of Sabbath rest

God himself modeled for us the importance of stepping away from work and finding rest. The part of me that wants to make the most of summer can sometimes overtake the part that knows it is best to allow my family time to unwind. Seeking a balance between being and doing is a worthy goal for our family’s time.

Recognize the needs

This summer, I will be spending time with a 15-year-old who has been very involved in school and sports and is feeling weary these days. I will be hanging out with a 13-year-old who is fresh off the middle school stage and still involved in community soccer. I will be playing with my 8- and 9-year–olds, who are eager to get dirty and soaked and tanned and tired. They are all ending the year with different needs.

Know the source of rest

And these few months of repose need to offer them each what they are looking for most. As their momma, I need to understand those needs. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” God is the one who carries our burdens and guides us to find true rest in him.

Find contentment in being together

So, while I may be eager to gather them up and head off to the museum or beach, this time offers a unique opportunity to sit and relax and do little or nothing at all. And that has a purpose, too. There will be plenty of time for planning, plenty of time for learning and going and doing and seeing. But,for some of our time, my teacher-hat must be removed, and I need to embrace the downtime I have with my children.

Time is more valuable than activity

As summer begins, let’s embrace our families and allow them the time to unwind. Let’s release the pressure we often feel to do more, see more, experience more--and make the time to just to be. Allowing our children time to be is gift we can easily miss. Time at home, time unplanned, allows for our kids to relax and release. In these moments, we will find conversations created, relationships strengthened, and unexpected occurrences that catch us joyfully off-guard. There is much in parenting that cannot be planned, but it is in those times when memories are made.

I am eager to see what God will do with the time we do not over-fill. His dreams and plans for the months ahead are surely far better than mine.

About the author — Nadia Swearingen-Friesen

Nadia Swearingen-Friesen is a writer and national speaker with a passion for empowering parents to approach their families with great intentionality and grace.  Nadia and her husband, Mark, are the parents of four children and live in the Chicago area. Nadia also blogs at http://nadiaswearingen-friesen.com/

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