Our last frost date is rapidly approaching (here in upstate NY it’s May 15). That means it’s almost time to Plant The Garden! Jeff and I have been very busy getting the garden beds ready and I spent some time checking out seedlings at the farmer’s market over the weekend. With all of this in mind, it’s easy to start thinking about what the summer will hold for us this year. We have so many thing we want to do and if we accomplish even a fraction of them I will be pleased. It seems that this happens every year – we get excited about all that is to come, the season rushes by in an instant, and we are left feeling that we didn’t do nearly as much as we wanted to. This year, things are going to be different! We’re old enough to know better. No more excuses. Here’s what we have lined up:
Reality Bootcamp for our Calendars: Our time together as a family is limited simply because Jeff goes to work during the week; the girls have school stuff & fun stuff; and I have mom stuff, church stuff and house stuff to do. Weekends are key, but when you look closely, they are spoken for too. I work every other Saturday at the farmer’s market and on Sunday mornings we go to church. To rephrase, careful planning on the weekends is key.
Reality Check for our Souls: Remember the story about the big and little rocks, and that they represent things in your life? The big rocks are the important things and the little rocks are the not-so-important things. If you try to put them all in a vase together, you can fit them in only if you put the big rocks in first and let the little rocks fall around them. This summer we are going to be more clear about what our big rocks are – the things that are important to us – and we’re going to make them a priority. It is only when we make time for the important things that we find true and lasting happiness as a family.
Our Summer Pledge
This summer we pledge to schedule the things that are most important to us and let the rest fall into place. We will schedule work, church, family hikes and paddling trips, visits to the community garden, time spent in our own garden, hours to lay on our grass and watch the chickens, hours to learn to ride a bike without training wheels, parties and fun with friends, and some time in the kitchen preserving all of our homegrown goodness. And after we have scheduled all of that, we will see what falls into place. There will be many additional things we want to do, I can be sure of that! It seems that with all the people we know and the many things we are involved in, we are invited to events and happenings on a regular basis. This is where the big rock/little rock story will come into play the most.
I have to believe that no matter where you fall on the busyness scale as a family, you do feel as though life is rushing by sometimes. I consider our family to be very low-key compared to many other families. For example, we eat dinner at home every night, and even if Jeff and I eat after the girls are done, we are all together in one room, interacting with each other, while the girls enjoy their meal at the table. That’s the model I grew up with, and though it wasn’t extraordinary back then, apparently it is now. There are even newspaper articles and books written about the importance of having a family dinner, that is how scarce it is. There is just so much going on for children and for active parents: sports, groups, classes, volunteer activities… and the list goes on. Our decision to make family dinner a priority means that my children don’t take part in classes for gymnastics or dance, or participate in organized sports. Isn’t it weird, when you stop to think about it, that as a parent I have to choose between one thing that will supposedly help to ground my children morally, and another thing that will supposedly help them to develop their talents? Why can’t those two things go hand in hand anymore? They did when I was a kid.
Regardless of what happens at your home during the dinner hour, know that to make family dinner a priority – at least for this family – it takes an intentional, conscious effort. It means making decisions about what is important for your children as individuals and what is important for your whole family to be happy. It means not listening to the buzz of your friends and acquaintances when they rave about an activity or a sport that you would love to see your child in – except it’s held during dinnertime. It means quieting your inner voice when it’s telling you that your child might be left out by not participating with the other kids. It’s not easy. But I do think it’s worth it. I can’t remember the last time I ever heard someone say that having a family dinner was a waste of time; that memories, manners and relationships were not built there; and that children did not learn more about their parents, and vice versa, by spending time together.
My ongoing lesson is about remembering what is most important and making sure I make it a priority. The more you practice, the better you get! Now is a good time to start.