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Seasons of Family Life - Issue 211
July 29, 2011
Hi there! ....

This week I’ve been thinking about how easy it is to micro-manage our days, and in the process reduce the time our children have to ponder, to explore and to enjoy the gifts and talents that they each have. We have slipped into this place. So one of the things we did this week was reduce our planned activities to give more time in the afternoon for the children to be directed by their own passions. Over the next week or so I’ll be speaking to each of my children to help them come up with some purposes for this time – their afternoons are not to be simply spent on relaxation pursuits. I want to ask them: What are the things you want to learn about or learn to do? How can I help you do that? I expect each of them will have a short list of different things that they can spend their time getting involved in. It will be exciting to see this develop.

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The Seasons of Family Life

Many of you have heard me say that we are about to start a new season, or we have come to the end of a season and I begin to plan for the next season. What do I mean by “season”?

We are all aware of the different seasons of a life – we have childhood, teenage years, young adult, and then adult years. Even as an adult we have different seasons in our life – we have our single years, the first years of our marriage, the years of babies and toddlers, school years, parents of teens, the season for cutting the apron strings, and then empty nest and hopefully the grandparent years. We are familiar with these blocks of time that dictate to us responsibilities and freedoms.

It is helpful to remember these seasons. For example, it is helpful to remember that when we have toddlers we are in a season where we need to keep our children close, these years are very physically demanding. Then when we get to be the parents of teenagers we need to remember that in these short years we need to be just as involved in our children’s lives, but it is more of an emotional demand. When my children were little I kept my out-of-the-home activities to a minimum, now that they are older, though we love the peace of being at home, life gets busy and we can maintain our peace even if we have two or three commitments on one day (not every day, but these days do happen). Different seasons – different responsibilities, different opportunities and different freedoms.

When we take on more responsibilities or activities than we should, considering the demands of our current season, life truly does get out of whack. We need to remember that there is a time for everything, and everything in its time.

Another aspect of recognising seasons in our life is recognising the different seasons in the short term. This is much like autumn, winter, spring and summer. These seasons come around each year and they bring with them a comforting sense of familiarity. But we need to use these seasons wisely – for example we need to plant our veggie seeds in the right season for our climate otherwise we waste our opportunity to produce fruit. Likewise, if we ignore the seasons of our family life, we also waste opportunity and will have limited fruit in our lives and in the lives of our children.

When I look at my year I can see very distinct family and community activities that influence how we spend our days:

  • January – February: Peter is around a lot more, we often take a family holiday, our focus during these months is family time and family projects.
  • March, April, May: Are great months for study.
  • June: We set aside June for creative projects in preparation for the local Agricultural Show
  • July: Often a very busy month with the Ag Show and school holidays. We often go camping as a family.
  • August, Sept, Oct: Are great months for study
  • November: wrap up studies, Swimming, preparing for Christmas, this year we’ll have extra homeschool co-op activity as the children prepare for a play
  • December: Is all about Christmas – we have read alouds, family time, making presents, cooking, community events

Over the years this has settled into a fairly consistent pattern though there are always different things happening that means a tweak or two. Knowing this pattern to our year helps me in planning and in accepting what really happens in our year. It helps me see that we have a very full and involved life, that all aspects of my children’s life has opportunity to grow and develop. It helps me see things in the context of a year, not a microscopic look at a day or even a week.

It isn’t that we don’t do anything other than this specific focus during this particular month or season, but it helps me to know what our priority is. There are often times that I feel overwhelmed by all the activity happening in our home and I start to feel that we aren’t doing anything, that we aren’t achieving anything. Then I remember our focus for this season and I can see that we are doing well in that area, though it may be true that we aren’t doing so well in another area. Time will come to work on that. But for now, I have a particular priority.

I define Seasons as a period of time dictated by family life. Here are some key thoughts to keep in mind:

  • Know when these seasons come and go; recognise the beginning and the end and change our family activities accordingly.
  • Know the priority activity for this season, and how to protect that priority from being choked out.
  • Look for and celebrate the fruit, and move on to the next season, believing fruit will be there too!
  • Keep priorities clear; remove the old priorities; don’t squeeze extra’s into an already full day. You can always revisit a priority in another season to come
  • Community events and family happenings are not distractions or interruptions, they can offer true learning opportunities that are consistent with our family goals. Make room for them.

Finding the seasons in our family life has given me the peace in my heart to rejoice in whatever comes our way, to find a balance between study and other opportunities that I want for my children. Recongising the seasons in our family life means I can live life with my kids and know that we are truly making the most of life’s opportunities.

To help find your seasons, ask the following questions:

  1. What events or happenings do you have on your calendar
  2. How does your husband’s work calendar or commitments affect your family – how can you work with them, instead of thinking they pull against you?
  3. What happens in the natural seasons (autumn, winter, spring, summer) in your location that you can make the most of?
  4. Does one member of the family have a particular need that is a priority either now or at some stage during the year?

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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