Think back to what summer was like before you had kids. Do you remember the glory of it? The late start to the day. Creating your own schedule. Taking actual vacations? (Because let’s be honest, a day at the beach with kids is not really a vacation. It’s more like an episode of Baywatch minus the swimsuit body.)
Summers used to be about recharging. Taking time off from the daily grind in order to come back refreshed. I think the people who need refreshment the most are parents, yet it’s sometimes most difficult for parents to find it. Instead, you find yourself just trying to hold on to your sanity as you try to figure out how to entertain your kids now that they’re out of school. You become a constant referee in sibling warfare and get lost in a never-ending state of laundry (how do they wear so many clothes)? And if you hear the theme song to a Disney show one more time, you may lock yourself in a closet.
As parents, you have less of most things—time, money and ability. But just because you have less time, money and ability to find refreshment like you once did before kids doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try.
Summer comes and goes quickly. And much like a hurricane, your emotional, spiritual and relational state of being can be tossed around and left in a state of destruction by the time school starts again.
That’s why its important to think about how to safeguard your soul for the storms of summer. Think about one thing you can do in the coming days and weeks left of summer to help refresh yourself. It’s easy to talk about needing to be refreshed, but it’s difficult to actually do something about it.
Here’s your challenge:
Think about what you enjoy doing that doesn’t cost you anything. Maybe it’s drinking a cup of coffee in the morning all by yourself. Or maybe it’s having your favorite drink on the patio at night under the twinkle lights at night. Or maybe it’s taking 15 minutes to sit outside to soak up the sun. It’s important to do something every day that refreshes you. For me, I drink my first cup of coffee alone. It allows me to have space to think before interacting with the demands of my kids.
Think about what you enjoy doing that doesn’t cost much. Maybe enlist the help of your spouse or friend or sitter for an hour or two. Maybe you could go to Target alone or to Starbucks. Or maybe it’s taking a walk on local trial or greenway. This shouldn’t cost much. You would be surprised at how much $5 at Starbucks can bring a sense of refreshment. For me, I treat myself to Starbucks once a week (clearly, I have a love affair with coffee). I sit there alone, or sometimes with a friend, but getting a small time away from the kids breathes life back into my weary soul.
Think about what you enjoy doing that costs a little bit more time and money. Maybe you go to your favorite restaurant. Or maybe you even book a hotel for a night or a spa treatment. For us, date night doesn’t happen weekly but instead monthly. Having that on the calendar gives me something to look forward to. And I always come back home feeling refreshed.
Not only is it good for your emotional, relational and spiritual well being to take care of yourself, but it’s good for your kids to see you care for yourself. Some of the best advice I received when I was single was to guard your time off. My boss said, “Take care of yourself. No matter how busy you are, you must rest. Because if you don’t do it now while you have a freer schedule then it will be hard to start when you have kids.” You aren’t the only busy people in your family. Your kids are busier than you were at their age. Model for them what it means to take care of yourself. Let them see you relax. Let them see you enjoy refreshment. Let them see you prioritize time away with your spouse so that they will learn to find ways to be refreshed.
I can’t cure the sibling fights or the mounds of laundry, but I can promise you that you can experience refreshment in the middle of summer.