Habits, Deep-Dives, and Rhythm Breakers to help shape your Summer
It’s that time of the year again. My family has visited a pool or body of water nine times in seven days. Wet towels have begun sprouting from the earth beneath our feet. We’ve moved from lunches to leftovers. A malicious and pervasive heat has invaded every inch of our car, and hardest of all: school and daily life look very different for our family. God has brought us into a new season. Summer is here, and the rhythm by which we lived our lives during the semester no longer makes sense. Here’s the great thing about all of that: It creates space to make a change.
Even if your kids stopped leaving for school when the pandemic started, Summer feels like a great time for a reset. We get to change the habits that have been shaping our families. We get to examine what we’ve been spending our time on, and do things to break up the monotony and bring about change. I want to give you three simple ideas to help you think through your Summer. When you get to Fall, my hope is that your family (and mine, to be honest) have established new habits, gone on some wild deep-dives, and had enough fun rhythm-breakers to consider it a great Summer that really set our family up for success in the Fall.
Let’s start with habits.
The Summer is a great time to establish new habits for your family. As you start to think about your family’s routine, it’s easy to make a mental list of things that would be incredible. I would love for my three year old to make his bed every morning, and while he’s at it, go ahead and fry up some eggs and bacon before I get up. What a habit! Before you start listing a bunch of things you think would be life-changing though, I want you to consider three questions;
1. What’s going to be something that carries your family forward in the Fall?
2. What’s something that’s going to move your family in a direction that matters?
3. If I only get to pick two to three things to change this Summer, are these the two that matter the most?
That last question matters because it keeps us from making a list of twenty five things that won’t get done because we’re trying to think about twenty five different things to work on. It also reminds us that not everything is weighted equally. I’d love to make my bed every morning, and I’d love to read scripture with my family, but if I have to choose between the two, I’m choosing scripture every time. Pick two or three habits you’d like to focus on for the Summer for your family, and make an attack plan! You may not crush it all Summer long, but incremental change is the best way to build a strong habit that can set you up for success in the Fall. Reading one verse together as a family in the Summer can translate into reading 2-3 verses together in the Fall. Kids making the bed a couple days during the week during the Summer might occasionally slip into the weekend in the Fall. Okay, I can dream, right?
Is there anything better than an accidental hour-long deep dive into something obscure on Wikipedia? You can do that this Summer with your family, and they don’t even need to know that It’s happening! Here’s what I mean; We all want our family to grow in knowledge about certain things. Some of them are obvious. I would love for my toddler to be able to count to 100. So, although he doesn’t know that’s the goal, we’ve spent a lot of time counting things, and so far, we’ve made it to thirty without any parental help. We’re deep-diving this Summer on counting to 100. When it comes to your family this Summer, you can choose to go deep in some areas. Depending on the age of your kids, maybe you choose to read through the Gospels this Summer as a family. With only 89 chapters, you can read a chapter a night and squeak by! Or you can deep-dive and have your family not even realize you’re doing it! You could choose, for instance, to watch a show called The Chosen. It’s a show about the life and ministry of Jesus, and from what I’ve heard, it’s actually really good. You could choose to watch the show, and then, when you read scripture with your family, whenever that happens to be, you could actually use the scripture that the show you watched that week together was based on. Not only will your kids remember it better, but you just turned screen time into an investment into your family and their spiritual life. Make a plan to dive deep into something this Summer. It could be counting to one hundred. It could be the Gospels. It could be learning to code, for goodness sake. But take advantage of the change in season and choose to help your family learn something.
3. Rhythm Breakers
If you’re a parent, you get to set the rhythm for your family. For me, because I’m the proud owner of a three year old, there’s a particular pattern we have as work ends and dinnertime begins. We play a little, eat some dinner, and then it’s a mad dash through bath time, book time, story time, and setting all the right lighting and accoutrements for my child to deeply and quickly leave the land of consciousness. And during the Summer, it’s worth it to let some things mess up our rhythm. Hear me out; I’m not saying to throw away everything and just let your child stay up ‘til 2 in the morning playing fortnite or whatever is cool these days. But right now, in this very hot season where everything feels a little different, you can totally make the choice to intentionally add (or allow) some rhythm breaking things to happen.
For me this week, here’s what that’s looked like:
At bedtime, we chose to go to Whataburger with our toddler and get milkshakes. It was awesome.
In a very busy season, we’ve chosen to have a few date nights, even though it throws some stuff off and makes work a little more difficult.
We finally made some decisions about a vacation coming up. It looks very different from our normal choices this time of year, but it totally made sense for our family.
You get to choose some things that mess up normal in your household, and I hope that you do. I hope you choose to get a milkshake, and travel, and go on more dates, and stay out late on the patio talking about life. I hope you choose to say yes to your kids when you might normally say no, and that you just randomly choose to spend time with the Lord even if it’s been hit or miss for you lately because of life. I even hope you burn a little unnecessary PTO on something silly, serious, prayerful, or obnoxious. At the end of the day, when Summer is over, I think we’ll remember the nights we got milkshakes instead of heading to bed. I hope you do too!”
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