This post is by Hannah Oxley.
After months of chilled fingers, red noses, and more recently, seasonal allergies, summer is almost here! As kids, there is nothing more exhilarating than the swift change that happens between the last day of school and the first day of summer vacation. Can we all remember the pure excitement we felt as we rode our bikes to the pool, ice cream money tucked away in our backpacks, without a care in the world?
While we never meant to become the sort of people who worried about mosquitoes or what the neighbors will think of the super dead flowers in the front lawn, or how the warmer months could quite possibly throw every bit of our schedule out the window, here we are.
As adults, summertime can tempt us to throw all caution and structure to the wind, especially where mornings are concerned. I have found that when I am intentional about structuring the rest of my day, my mornings continue to be a space where I am free to meet with God without worrying about my to-do lists or vacation plans. And it doesn’t have to be complicated!
I have found that this 4-step method for building a summertime (or any time) routine encourages us to thoughtfully view our everyday schedule in a way that holds us accountable to spiritual disciplines, specifically our morning times, while still getting to let loose and have some fun in the sun.
As Donna and Tom would say, “Treat yo self!” Slip on your Chacos, grab a handful of colorful pens and a notebook, put the fam in the car, and drive to your happy place: a comforting, familiar spot where you feel most like you. For me, it’s a charming, family-owned cafe in Oregon (pronounced Oreh-gawn) that serves incredibly strong coffee...and vegan brownies. Why the field trip? Believe it or not, most of us hate thinking about, looking at, or talking about our schedules. The promise of caffeine and sugar is just the right mixture of bribery and motivation to get us on track.
Sitting at your table, treats in one hand, favorite pen in the other, pull out a notebook and write down your “week in the life.” What does a typical week look like for you? Fill in everything - family meals, grocery store trips, swim lessons, workout classes, morning/quiet time with the Lord. Put your pen down and take a good look at how your time is being delegated.
With a different colored pen, draw a star by the items on your schedule that are “deal-breakers” or routines and rhythms you simply can’t afford to part with. With another color, draw a checkmark by the items that are not quite essential but are working well for you. Finally, take out a third color and draw an x by the items that bring more stress than they do anything else, and erase any of them you can do without. This should leave you with some extra “white space” to work with.
Now that you’ve paired down your routine, here comes the fun part: dreaming up what’s next! Make a summer bucket list filled with the activities that will make you (and your people) smile. Visits to the zoo? The nearest state park? The overpriced cafe on the other side of town? A weekly game night with your favorite people? If it fits in your budget and you have the capacity to make it happen, it’s on the table. Remember that newly made white space in your schedule? Use it (and your wish list) to add some much needed pizazz to your weekly routine.
No matter how well we organize our homes or stick to our morning time routines, we will never fully have the kind of control we seek. We were created by an almighty and omniscient Father - He alone knows what tomorrow will bring. As we approach summer, let us remember daily that true peace and comfort comes from our Father in Heaven. Praise God!
Hannah Oxley is an English teacher-turned-writer, (sometimes) runner, and bookseller. Most days, she can be found at her dream job, shuffling books to and fro in the carefully curated children's section of Mystery to Me, an indie bookstore in Madison, WI. Or dreaming up story ideas and wandering the isles of Trader Joe’s.
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