As the school year has come to a close, I have felt spent, depleted, and exhausted. No one generously clued me in on the fact that this parenting gig doesn’t get easier as the kids get older. In fact, it’s almost like it winds itself up into a frenzy of activity. Sports, counting high school credits, more difficult classes, transcripts, and extra-curricular activities keep our time jam packed. It’s such a beautiful time to be a part of as they grow and expand, but it’s also tough. It’s super easy to get swept away in everything and accidentally lose sight of the things that keep me refreshed. That brought me to my idea for this month’s theme: refresh.
I first had to begin by asking myself what being “refreshed” meant to me. I came to the conclusion that it didn’t involve quick fix things, but deeper, more renewing activities and even, habits that I establish for myself to keep refreshment something that’s going on continually. For me, it’s definitely something deeper than just an afternoon by the pool or planning a vacation. I want to intentionally create a sustainable space of refreshment and renewal for myself.
I’m learning that as the sustainer of so many things in our household, if I’m operating from a space of exhaustion, I’m setting the tone for everyone. Being generous, patient, and loving toward everyone in our home starts with being generous, patient, and loving with myself. The old saying that “you can’t truly give what you don’t have” has finally sunk in for me this year. My children truly emulate what I do – they rarely do what I tell them to in regard to big life concepts like self-love, patience, kindness, and even more trivial things like screentime.
Why do you think that is? As I’ve studied it for myself, I’ve come to the conclusion that it has to do with one big idea: until I truly learn to do the right thing for myself, I don’t fully understand it. How can I teach someone to read if I haven’t learned myself? How can I love them if I don’t know what real love is? How can I tell them to do things that I won’t do myself? As I’ve become a student of these things for myself, I’ve come to really understand what they mean. That’s changed how I give them to others.
So what steps am I taking this summer to really, truly refresh?
1.) Getting organized and working ahead. Working ahead on big projects, getting inventory made and stashed for the business, and getting a lot of the weekly work pre-planned and executed early. (No last minute scrambling! It gets overwhelming and stressful!) School registrations, book orders, class supplies, and sports registrations, forms, and physicals are all next to be scheduled. I’ve also been hashing out meal planning and grocery order/pickup to save me time. It’s been a life (and budget) saver.
2.) Planning down time and fitness time. Wow. Amazing how quickly those two items fly off of my to-do list when it gets too long! Check and check! Not cool! Keeping my reading time, workout time, and study time are huge to keep me in a good frame of mind. My husband and I have been reading through Max Lucado’s book Anxious for Nothing. This past weekend we read the chapter titled, “Think About What You Think About”. The subtitle was, “Your problem is not your problem, but the way you see it.” The jist of the chapter centered around the idea that when we let negative thoughts and ideas hover around us constantly, we become filled with dread and anxiety. By instead deliberately choosing to “fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.” And to “think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Phil. 4:8), we shift our focus out of a space of anxiety and dread. No, it doesn’t make problems disappear. But, it does put them into perspective. I so needed that reminder this week! And if I hadn’t set aside that time for reading and feeding my soul, together with my husband, I would have missed out on it!
3.) Chucking my phone to the curb. My mobile phone is a big and vital part of how I keep up with my business. It’s an amazing piece of technology that makes a lot of things possible that wouldn’t otherwise be. But… with all of the tracking available to me now, it’s clear that I don’t spend all of my time on my phone “working”.
Over time, I’ve gradually been reducing the amount of time that I spend on my phone daily for lots of reasons. First, I found myself lamenting that I just didn’t have “free time” to tackle projects and things that I love like sewing, painting, photography, writing, designing, drawing, and reading. The stuff that’s the life blood of my creativity. Seeing the bald-faced numbers on my phone usage report made me realize: I have the time, I’m just spending it elsewhere. I also found that I was inadvertently disconnecting with the people and moments that I was in. I wasn’t truly present. Wow. My time on earth, and my full time years with our children is limited. I want to make sure that I savor them, and use them wisely. Lastly, social media can be great, but it can also slowly suck the life out of me. As a human being, I’m starting to see that living life through a device, might not actually be living at all. I really connected with what Leigh Bortins says in her book The Question: Teaching Your Child the Essentials of Classical Education that I’ve been reading this summer. She addresses the bigger question of how much technology should be involved in educating children on pages 49-52, but on page 50, a single sentence stood out and hit me like a brick wall. “We are aware that habits form us, and relating through a machine mainly forms us into beings who relate to a machine.” (emphasis mine) So, instead of social media, I’ve instead committed to re-connecting with people – real life, in person. Admittedly more complicated, especially as an introvert, but also more human, and ultimately, more rewarding.
So, how are you planning to refresh this summer? Trust me when I say this post wasn’t easy – I would love to hear what things are calling your heart to refreshment over the coming months.