Monday, March 10, 2014

Making Spring Break Work for Every Family, on Every Budget

Photo courtesy of Hasitha Tudagalle, Creative Commons, cc license
From downstairs come the happy hum of voices and the tinkle of Legos being fingered and raked through. My college-age son is home on spring break and my younger two children are thrilled to see him. In between frequent outings with friends, he is nonetheless being intentional about time with his siblings. John and five year old Daniel build Lego castles, line up archery figurine battles, and talk long over red, blue, and yellow plastic bricks.

My high school daughter plans homework sessions around her big brother's work schedule, choosing to take her spring break this week too while he is home. They go on an ice cream date, talk for hours downstairs, and shriek with laughter far into the night.

Today we lingered in the kitchen and dining room, my man-son hopping up to sit on the counter, sprawling huge across my cupboards as I sipped coffee and turned pages in my Bible. At the table, my lanky daughter spread out her art pads and pencils, holding up a white eraser to show her little brother. Daniel pulled out his watercolor paints and some scratch paper, while I rounded up water in a plastic bowl. I clicked on Vivaldi's Summer, and we stopped to stare out the deck window at the melting snow, the blue sky, and a swooping black bird that perched on a pine across the yard. Time slowed, and we breathed in deeply. Rest and calm sank into us, and our shoulders dropped comfortably. Chairs scraped, and violins crescendo-ed as conversation resumed.

My husband and I are enjoying this day off work today too, and are savoring this time as a family. In between various side tasks, we stop to cuddle, closing our eyes, and leaning in for a long hug. Later on this week, there are plans for family games, some computer network gaming, and other casual pursuits. And for my husband and I, life resumes its normal work and carpool schedule tomorrow.

But in between, our family is planning to savor each moment together. Whether it is just curling up on the couch to watch a mystery together, or learning how to cook a new Asian noodle dinner, or playing eight rounds of Uno, we plan to slow the clock, to breathe in deeply, and let that rest and calm sink in.

Spring breaks don't need to be expensive or long. While summery beaches are always appealing to me, some years a break from school and normal life can be crafted just as simply by choosing to intentionally slow down one's pace. What speaks calm to you? What brings family togetherness? Choosing to sleep in late, to linger over coffee, and to lean into family moments can bring long-term renewal and peace on any budget. Plus they can be savored much more than just one week a year!

What does a relaxing day at home look like for you? (I love hearing from you. Those in email can click here to join the conversation.)

9 comments:

Bill (cycleguy) said...

You guys don't look old enough to have a college age son. :) With two grown daughters (38 & 34) we don't have a Spring break to worry about. We see each other all the time (she is soon retiring for good). however, I do treasure my times when my girls are home or my grandson is here. My day off is most relaxing when I am able to ride my bike and just kick back and not do any ministry at all (except to my own heart and body).

Floyd said...

Sometimes the best times are exactly those; the ones when it seems like we're doing nothing at all, but that's the time when we deepen our relationships. It's a tough concept, but sometimes less is more...

Betty Draper said...

I second that, you two look too young to have a collage son.

Love to sit outside and read, watch a good movie, or maybe take a ride with my husband.

Jayne said...

Sad to say I won't be seeing mine over their spring break. My oldest and his girlfriend (who go to school at the University of West Georgia) are going to go visit his twin sister and little brother, who both go/went to Georgia Southern. GSU is just an hour from the beach. I will miss seeing them but know that they need this sibling time together.
When they are home, we like movies and bon fires.

Jennifer Dougan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer Dougan said...

Bill,

It sounds like you enjoy relaxing the same way my eldest son does: on a bike. :)

Thanks for stopping in,
Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

I agree, Floyd. Those moments add up too.

Although, hey, I can always be talked into a beach every once in a while too. :)

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you! :)

Mm, sitting outside, reading books, etc. They sound nice, Betty. Thanks.

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Jayne,

I bet you'll miss them. How great that they are close as siblings though!

Movies and bonfires sounds delightful.

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com