Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lazy days of summer too lazy for me

One thing I can't stand is laziness. Maybe it was being raised by a mother constantly speaking out against laziness and pushing my sisters and I to "get our butts moving" and always assigning chores or something or other (though she often let me off on the chore thing when she saw I was writing -- she always encouraged the writing). My mother was raised in a very UNlazy way. Growing up, she always had to help out, do chores and help take care of siblings. My grandfather instilled a very strong work ethic in his children, and my mother continued to maintain that work ethic even into her late adulthood years. So, of course, she passed this down to her own children, though it seemed like the girls were doing more chores than the boys. Nevertheless, one thing my mother's efforts did to make sure we did not turn out to be slobs is that it has made me feel the same way now, with my own children. I don't want them to be lazy.

But I went against this desire recently, when I made a deal with my daughter, age 8 1/2, that she could enjoy the first month of her summer vacation with some of the more stricter rules tossed out the window. While she has enjoyed not having a bedtime, sleeping in until noon on some days, playing computer games and watching TV at night and not having to clean her room so much, it has started to eat away at me. I, too, decided to enjoy some laziness this first month, but I have only been able to take that so far.

For example, I have not cut back on the cleaning. Sure, I still take it easy on weekends, but I can't stand to see dishes in the sink or laundry piling up. So I've definitely stuck with those responsibilities. I have, however, slept in, did not exercise so much (hardly at all), ate lots of junk food and just cut back on how much work I do. In other words, I've slowed down. That is starting to get to me, however, and I'm eager to get back into action and stick to my schedule. I enjoy waking up early, anyway. It's fun waking up with the day, not to mention a beautiful sight watching the sun come up.

But another thing about this bothering me is seeing how very lazy my child can be -- and just because she can get away with it! She has definitely become a couch potato and sleeping in. By nature, she's a night owl, and so she has regressed to that during this "one month break" from rules and routines. But just as I have adapted in saying goodbye to my night owl ways, I have explained to her that, because of school, she will have to get used to being a morning person, as well. For now, I let her be a night owl, even if I'm sleepily stumbling around the house WAITING for her to go to sleep or making sure she stays in her room so I can get into bed. (She has not exactly stuck to that rule, unfortunately, and this has meant dealing with one angry father who has come home to find her watching TV or playing a computer game at 2 a.m.) I don't like laziness and watching how very lazy my child can be has been pretty frustrating. Yet I remind myself of our agreement and keep counting the days when all that will change. She can have her fun for now, because it won't last.

While it has been hard for me to "enjoy" this break from the schedule and busyness, especially when, on some days, I'm still in my jammies at noon, it has made me stop and think about just how reliant we are on being so busy so much of the time and rushing through life without stopping for rest. I have literally had to force myself to slow down, lie around, just...THINK! Just take it easy. Enjoy this warm weather and bask in the sunshine. Take time to reflect on things. Not worry about the dishes in the sink or the toys on the living room floor. Not feel pressured about making EVERY SQUARE INCH of the house look perfect. Just...relaxing and enjoying this time of the year when vacation time is allowed for so many. If anything, summertime is prime time to enjoy togetherness with family, and that's what I have been doing with my kids. Just spending time with them.

As this "month of laziness" is coming to a close, I'm beginning to reflect on the lessons it has taught me and appreciate the memories I've created with my kids. I think we'll keep this a tradition for every summer, because it allows us to just take a break from life's craziness and stop to enjoy and nurture the bond we share with each other. If anything, it allows us to refresh ourselves and appreciate what staying busy and having routines can do for us and for life in general. Also, I think it's a good idea to do this, because it balances things out. If we're always busy, always sticking to a schedule, then that's a recipe for some serious burnout. So a month "off" from that once a year helps to avoid that stress and burnout. Also, it gives us something to look forward to, because then we'll have more flexibility to do other things. Things that are not so busy.

And as much as it has eaten away at me, I'm grateful I made the decision to do this. Now I'm even more grateful that, pretty soon, it will be time to get back into the swing of things.

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