Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fresh Start to a New Year

I've been up since 3:30am - could not sleep with anticipation about today - the first day of the new school year. I'm not sure if it's the fact that my youngest starts first grade or if it's my worries about being able to manage it all this year. Either way, I'm up. And as tradition has it in our household, I'm making homemade cinnamon rolls for our first morning's breakfast. They are gluten, dairy & corn free and still somehow taste delicious.

I'm intrigued to see what happens this school year. This summer was unlike any other. I broke my foot in mid-May, ended up having surgery and remained flat on my back for 2 weeks followed by about 10 weeks of very limited movement. So the plans of backyard parties, hiking, biking, swimming, etc all went away quickly. I still have a month of recovery to go. I can walk only short distances, can't walk on uneven ground and have limited foot mobility... but I'm getting there and am extremely grateful for every tiny advance I make.

Our summer was very quiet. At first, it seemed completely awful and made me so mad at myself for tripping and breaking my foot in the first place. Convinced that I had ruined my kids' summer, I'm sure I was a difficult patient. Sorry, Lled. But then, we settled into the quiet pace and ended up loving it. I mean, I couldn't drive - it was my driving foot that was hurt - so going too many places was not an option. The schedule was cut to the girls' favorite events - tennis lessons every day for the whole summer, trips to the pool & local concerts were our entertainment. Otherwise, there was a lot of time at home.

You would think I'd have used that time very wisely and be prepared at an unprecedented level for the new school year. Um, no. Quite the opposite. Turns out that when you are in constant pain, researching curriculum isn't top of the list. The funny thing was, I was as busy as ever with the kids; the only difference was I was lying on the couch. Lilly and I read a lot and colored together. The older girls did craft projects alongside me and snuck into the space next to me for endless cuddles.

Of course, there were times when they were arguing and there was nothing I could do about it but sit and listen. But when they were getting along and I got used to sitting down for long periods of time, it was actually kind of nice. I mean, I'm always saying we're too busy and that we need a time-out from our busy-ness. I guess God was listening because I sure did get a break.

But the take-away of the summer is that I truly appreciated the quiet time with my family. I honestly refuse to continue with these insane, busy schedules because it's become the status quo. Sure, my kids would benefit from the 200 options available to fill their afterschool, evening and weekend hours. But we actually got to relax this summer and I have to tell you, I like that family a lot more than I like the stressed, busy one racing here and there.

Do I think we can have a completely relaxed school year? No, it's doubtful. 

But I sure think that we can select in which activities to participate and decline others, no matter how wonderful they are. Am I worried about taking my kids out of some of these when so many of their peers will continue with them? Sure. But like this summer. They will survive, develop and thrive just as well.

So my goal for this year is to foster each child to pursue what they love; to enable them to deeply learn valuable information of importance while encouraging an atmosphere of mindfulness and to continue to develop our "village." We'll see how it goes.


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