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How to reclaim your summer

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Daiga Ellaby / unsplash

Andrea Gibbs - published on 07/27/22

It's not too late! Here's how to slow down the time and build family closeness before fall arrives.

We were so enthralled with exiting lockdown restrictions that we jumped fully into, well, everything possible this summer.

As we approached the halfway mark of the season, I felt the need for an extended pause for prayer time at our parish adoration chapel. The busy schedules for five children with church camps, tennis lessons, Vacation Bible School classes, and swim lessons have come to an end, which leaves me time to breathe. Although all of these children’s activities serve a purpose, they have kept me practically living in our SUV as I shuttled to and fro all day.

St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in urgency that time is running out. If you are a busy mama like me, you feel that at this time of year especially. As these summer days pass into weeks, the weeks are becoming months. There’s an urgency to slow down time, to soak up the joy of family, faith, and friends while we have this sweet slice of summer time before us. My fear had been that I’d look back at these summer months and wonder: did we waste our time or spend our time? 

“Lord, help me to spend my time well. I seek to honor you with the gift of this summer. Holy Spirit, guide me to spend my time on what matters most.” 

Super slow down

I have found that reclaiming time where we can is essential for living out the remainder of summer with purpose. We had to reevaluate the activities and events that were making our schedule a little too full. By purposefully slimming down some of the background busy activities, we have found our entire family together at home more often. This has allowed for much needed family prayer time together. Taking a committed slow down to sleep in, take daily walks, play board games, read aloud stories, and take even more walks has absolutely refreshed this mama’s soul. 

Choosing to spend more time at home and less time in the car has reshaped our nutritional lives as well. With less living on the go we’ve been eating at restaurants less, and eating at home more often. We’ve asked each child to take a turn as host to Saturday night grill out, and it’s been a opportunity to build character. Making the calls to invite the friends, meal planning, grocery shopping, leading grace before meals, being attentive to refilling guests’ beverages, and helping overall be “in charge” for the evening has been such a blessing for us all.

Rekindling the fire of faith

We have found great graces for our family by adding daily Mass to our summer schedule. The more often we attend Holy Mass, the deeper our desire is to receive the Eucharist.

Summer in most communities offers a plethora of service opportunities for parents as well as even the youngest of children. Our faith comes more fully alive when we have been able to sacrifice time to serve others around us. As our children see us as parents more fully living out our Catholic faith with joy, they cannot help but also be drawn towards that joy.

Inspiration from the saints

St. Augustine tells us that “Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place or circumstances, are brought into closer connection to you.”

Circumstance has certainly placed my children before me 24-7 this summer. As there are not any grand and exotic mission fields planned, surely, I can pour my efforts into the people that surround my dining room table. This also gives us time to dream … Where is God calling our family to further live out our faith in the coming year?

“For you know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.”

When we get to the end of this summer we will undoubtedly look back to reflect how summer went. Now is the time to embrace that pivot, reclaim family time, and relearn the art of praying together. The Lord will be ever so pleased at our desiring sainthood for our children.

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