Every June, I look at my empty summer calendar pages with a sense of great wealth. As a homeschooling mother, my summers aren't completely free of duty, but the warmer months build in a bit of a break from one of my jobs. As September draws near, I find myself wondering, How do I fit this all in? The disciplined rhythms of learning, work, and mealtimes must reveal themselves again after becoming blurred in a haze of chlorine and sunscreen.
The rhythms do return, often with variations to suit our maturing family. But it takes some careful thinking to adjust our routines to match our growing humans. And one thing that becomes clearer each year is our collective need for rest. As a family, we function best when there is a little bit of regular blank space in our calendar — and it can sometimes be hard to protect that.
Martin and Sylvia's family senses this too, and together with them, I am eager to think ahead about what rest means for our home as the pace of life picks up this fall. No matter how much you love a new school year and the holidays that come quickly at its heels, we all need boundaries of time and space to guard us from becoming overwhelmed by all the glorious opportunities of the season.
This month, Martin and Sylvia's family start to talk about this delicate dynamic in a creative way. Through some speed-style play-acting, the family gets into the groove of (and grows their anticipation for) the festivals they know and love — while also looking for ways to preserve their precious rhythms of rest and renewal.
Here are a few tips to get you started in your thinking about Days of Rest during the upcoming festival season.
Brainstorm through your calendar. Just like Martin and Sylvia’s family, it’s a great idea to spend some time writing a few things down — not only actual festival days, but also regular traditions or rituals that you participate in throughout this season. Once you have your list, note as much of it on your family calendar as possible. Some events might be weather-dependent (apple-picking, anyone?), and in our family, we set aside two or three possible dates in our calendar and watch the weather closely on those days.
Do some play-acting. Your family might enjoy acting out some of the highlights of this season in Martin-and-Sylvia style. Not only is this fun (and a little silly), but it will get your head in the game as you anticipate the joys and challenges of the festivities.
Prepare for the unexpected. Take a look at your calendar and note any festivals that fall on your usual Day of Rest. Decide what to do about those on a case-by-case basis. Would you like to move your usual Day of Rest to a different day that week? Or perhaps you have some ideas about how to engage in the celebration in a way that replenishes you and your family?
Simplify — don’t complify. Imagine how you might alter your Day of Rest to fit the season. Perhaps you can prepare elements of the celebration ahead of time or buy a few components that you typically make. For example, if you have an Apple Pie Day like Martin and Sylvia’s family and it falls on a Day of Rest, you might like to make the pie dough the day before (or buy it pre-made) so that your family can focus on the restful tasks of peeling, slicing, baking, and (of course) eating. You can experiment with different ways of handling conflicts. Take a few notes along the way, keeping track of things that work and things that don’t quite suit your family.
Revisit your strategies often. As the weeks march forward, make a regular habit of looking at your calendar to anticipate challenges to your Day of Rest. In our fast-paced world, prioritizing rest is a counter-cultural act — but enjoying the benefits of this kind of renewal is worth the time spent thinking ahead and acting out of your deepest values.
Listen to the first free story HERE and read more about getting started with a Day of Rest.
Read the August Day of Rest tips HERE.
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About the Author
Ann is a writer, editor, homeschooling mother, voracious reader, full-fat baker, and musician. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters and chronicles the journey at Boyds’ Nest News.