My blinker is on and I’m checking the rearview mirrors. Please excuse us as we merge over.
This summer, we’re pulling out of the fast lane. Our girls were in three different schools this year. That means three carpool schedules, twelve different teachers, three schools communicating through emails and take home papers. Gotta love take home papers. Then there was basketball, soccer, violin, track, theater, swim lessons, softball…did I mention it was our first year as middle school parents? That in and of itself…but then we have a traveling work schedule, writing commitments, and other weekly ministry roles, and it’s all added up to nine months living in the fast lane. Nine months of white knuckle, mental focus to stay the course. Many of you know the pace all too well.
I like fast lane living, and that’s okay to admit. It moves the needle forward in measurable ways. Ambitions and hard work are rewarded with jobs completed. I’ve learned how to be efficient with time in the fast lane. I’ve learned how to move forward in bumper to bumper scheduling. My kids have learned a lot about fast lane living this year too. The middle schooler is outgoing and active, so she begs for fast lane living by default. The youngers learned to survive on quick meals, long carpool lines, and busy routines. We’ve had crucial car conversations about eating loads of candy in heaven, why the word “poop” doesn’t necessarily make every joke funny, and countless discussions about being the only family without a dog. Clearly they’re deprived.
To the extent that I like the fast lane, it also wears me out. It wears my family out, and we’re no longer offering each other or our relationships our best selves. We’re also missing out on just being present and absorbing the joy of the moment. There truly is a season for everything and I think our season to just relearn who we are as a family is now. Now, before we’re drawn in 50 different directions. Now, while our daughters’ lives are still centered around home. Now, while we’re in the thick of identity building years.
In an attempt to make this downshifting transition actually happen, and not just be a good idea on the clean slate of summer here are five ways we’re slowing down…
1. Unscheduling. Weeks in between traveling where we have nothing planned. No camps, no clinics, no appointments, no commitments outside of spending slow time with family and friends.
2. Traveling as a family. It’s where memories are made, and traveling provides rare opportunities for us to all be on the same schedule.
3. At home training. When we’re home, my parenting goal is to do a lot of on the job training. Laundry, yard work, cooking, cleaning…learning to serve each other and work hard as a team. There are countless life lessons wrapped up in learning to be faithful in the small things, in the dailies of ordinary living.
4. Prioritize the arts. We’re an artsy family and whether it be painting with watercolors, strolling through a museum, writing, reading, or listening to music, making the arts a part of our family’s summer is part of the slow lane. Creativity is nurtured and stretched when we can take time to process beauty and life, so more of that, please.
5. Keep a list. Forgetting is one of our biggest obstacles. We’re keeping a jar out on the counter to fill with gratitude reminders. Simple slips of paper counting our blessings. I know they’ll be days we forget to write things down and weeks we’re traveling, but when we come back to it it’ll be weeks, not years, and the blessings will still be fresh in our minds and hearts. It’s one way we strengthen our faith and really learn to see God in the every moment, every day.
There are going to be mornings I wake up and realize it’s a fast lane kind of day. It’s just how life goes, but those days will be the exception, not the normal. God paves our road and purposes every mile, and He offers grace for our best efforts and biggest fails. Check back in with us at UG and see how our journey is going this summer. I’d love to hear about yours too! If you can’t get me by phone, text, email, comments, snail mail, or FB message I’m probably on the deck with a fruity kombucha and a good book. The more the merrier, come join us.