Can you recall the last time you were planning a great vacation for your family? There was the anticipation of the destination, the food, the activities and the fun. It was all getting you through those last few days when you had to “pay it forward” to be able to enjoy the vacation. We love vacations! After grinding out the work for however long, we love the anticipation of letting off the gas and coasting through a few blissful days of a whole lot of nothin’! Our family loves to go to the beach. We get the food and drinks in the cooler, the sunscreen and beach toys, and of course a good book and the rest is pure delight. No calls, deadlines, mealtimes, nothin’! I love it! But let's’ face it: Too many days on the beach without any responsibilities or routines would get old pretty quickly for most of us. We really do best in the large majority of life with some sort of routine to help us anticipate our days.
Research has shown that even the anticipation of a long awaited event relieves stress. Though, not likely as well as a day at the beach which leaves me in a pretty happy and relaxed state of mind. But there is rhythm to planning a vacation, enjoying the vacation, then returning to the normal routines of life. For kids in school, summer vacations have the same effect. They revel in the anticipation of the last day of school, when they can throw off the cares of books and homework for a blissful 10 weeks of fun in the sun. As the summer winds down, there is a certain excitement that builds when the stores fill with fresh school supplies, we buy new backpacks, prepare see friends again and begin anew the journey of learning. These are rhythms of predictable change. The change is refreshing, but the rhythm of the change is comforting. We like to know what to expect.
But there are times in every persons life when they get a curve ball. The expectations are thrown out of the park. Routines get challenged and the rhythm of life gets upset. You think to yourself, “I just didn’t see this coming.” And, you have to figure out life all over again. Things that came naturally before, now have to be retrained and done with intentionality. Systems that worked before have to be reset, and maybe even reimagined. These are uncomfortable circumstances and humans don’t like to be uncomfortable. In fact we spend a great portion of our time and resources working to surround ourselves with things that make us comfortable.
But growth doesn’t naturally happen in the comfortable. Stagnation happens. That’s why the first tip was simply “get up.” Resist stagnation. But when you get up, what are you going to do?
Here is my tip for today. Reimagine and reestablish routines. You will need to spend some time thinking through the new paradigm of life at home. This was not a vacation you had planned or an anticipated season of change, but it came, nonetheless. So spend some time planning it out. You’re not likely to have the freedom to spend your days at the beach, though I wouldn’t complain. So how are your days going to progress?
For every family with school-aged kids at home you are faced with a prolonged summer, and possibly some homeschooling. What routines can you establish for yourself and your children to give you some predictability to your days? What time will you go to bed and wake up? When will meals be? What does each member of the family need to do each day or week to keep the home tidy and contribute to the running of the home? When will chores be done? How long will you spend on various activities before enjoying free time? Establishing set routines, with flexibility and grace built into them will help you and your family enjoy this unforeseen season--with it’s vacation from normal activities and it's new responsibilities-- without the added stress of not knowing what to do any given day.
Kids especially need you to step up and lead the charge through this season. I know my kids do not like being isolated from their friends and normal activities. Yet, they push against my insistence of some routines. They would rather play games all day. But, the reality is when they are in a routine, they know what to expect from me and they understand generally what they will be doing in a given, day they are more respectful, less given to emotional struggles, and generally happier.
One new routine we have established, and are working to make a part of every day is something we learned from Online Success Mentor Darren Hardy. He calls them JAM Sessions. The JAM sessions for himself and his staff are 90 minutes. But, I have taken the idea and reimagined it for our kids. They both now have their own personal kitchen timer. Each day they have two to three 45-minute JAM sessions, during which they work on a given assignment. This is in addition to their regular chores. They may be reading a book, practicing a sport, creating something new, cleaning their space, etc. We write it on the weekly calendar so they know what to expect and so do I. They know they won’t have to work longer than 45 minutes as long as they really put in the time. This gives us a common vocabulary to use for the expectation of the time spent and the freedom to be flexible with whatever wave the day may bring us.
So what will you do to reimagine and reestablish healthy and fun routines for yourself and your family?
Until tomorrow, I hope you see what God has placed in your life to bless your soul.