Summer has been in full swing for a few weeks now, and if you’re like me, you’re savoring it. If you’re like me, though, you also get a shock every time you glance at a calendar and realize it’s July. Time is passing, a truth that is only magnified when you spy overly zealous retailers stacking school supplies on shelves. At moments like this, you just might start to wonder whether you’re making the most of your summer, emotionally and spiritually.
Fear not. Here at the mid-summer mark, I’m happy to offer a few ways that we parents can embrace the season, using it to strengthen our family ties and recharge our spiritual batteries.
1. Learn from your kids and how they play. Remember when you were a child, and those warm summer evenings seemed endless? Tap into that spirit by heading outside with your own kids. Draw with chalk, build a fort, blow bubbles, play soccer. Most of all, watch them as they play. They’ve got it down, that unselfconscious sense of the here and now, not worrying about tomorrow. When I see my son gleefully pedaling his trike down the warm sidewalk, I really understand Jesus’ words about how we need to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. If we can emulate our kids’ innate ability to glory in the moment, we’re finding a little bit of heaven on earth. A warm summer day or evening is the perfect time to start.
2. Jump into a project that feels too daunting the rest of the year. I’m not talking a necessary evil, like cleaning the garage, but something that feeds your soul. A few years ago, I spent a summer writing my book Mary and Me. I’d park myself in front of the computer every morning and tap away at the keyboard until the midday sun broiled me from the skylight above. It was wonderful to have a summer in which to let the project build momentum, to live fully in the author skin for a while. Maybe your project involves starting a blog, learning how to cross-stitch, finding the perfect enchilada recipe, or reading the collected works of Jane Austen. Whatever it is, there’s plenty of summer left. Dive in.
3. Give your kids some one-on-one time. Growing up, my sister and I each went to summer camp. The weeks never overlapped, so whichever child stayed at home got to spend a day with Mom, totally dedicated to activities of our choice. My special day usually involved a trip to the doll store, some time at the library, perhaps an ice cream cone. The one-on-one time with my mom was precious, and it was exciting to be the one to plan our activities. Even though my boys are younger, I’m making it a priority to spend the occasional day or afternoon with each of them, individually. It’s a great way to build those relationships, and to create some pretty sweet summer memories in the process.
4. Do an al fresco nighttime prayer. There’s something magical about an evening when you can sit outside without needing a sweater. During the summer, I often slip out to the backyard and spend a few quiet moments in the dark. Though I love my house, it’s also a place where dishes and laundry cry out for attention, where I think of all that remains undone. In the yard, though, I’m in a more peaceful space. It’s a great place to let the hum and buzz of the day recede. Try sitting out on the porch or taking a slow walk around the block. Review the day, and all its joys and challenges. Recognize the sweetness of the season. Invite God into the life you are living, right here, right now. There’s no more beautiful way to end a summer’s day.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God, which received a 2009 Catholic Press Award. She’s also an English teacher, weekend gardener, sporadic exerciser, and proud mother of two young boys. Visit her blog at www.blog.maryandme.org for thoughts on Mary, faith, parenting, and the occasional ode to Jane Austen. Read her U.S. Catholic article, “Heart to heart: Mary and motherhood.”
Take a look at At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home and winner of the Catholic Press Association’s General Excellence award in 2010. Here’s a sample issue. We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.
And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.