Summertime is officially here. It’s time for lazy afternoons at the beach, sipping lemonade, taking random naps on the weekend and absorbing the sunshine before the winter sets in again. With this carefree attitude, why should one have goals and boundaries?
Whenever I go on vacation, I set goals. For example, I want to take a nap every day, I aim not to cook at all, or I try to read an entire book in one afternoon. To set such lofty summer goals, I have to set some boundaries, like leaving my phone at home when I go to the pool, not checking my email after 5 o’clock, or giving myself permission not to think about the next thing on my to-do list. My goals and boundaries make summertime much more enjoyable, even if my vacation is in my own backyard.
Sometimes I’m far more optimistic than my time allows. For example, one summer I made a goal to read all of C.S. Lewis’ books. It was a lofty goal to crawl inside the mind of one of the most fascinating men of the 20th century, but I had miscalculated. I didn’t realize he had published more than 30 books — far too many for the brief eight weeks of summer. I read five of them by summer’s end.
This summer, I aim to read a book a week. I always have a stack of books on my nightstand, some fiction, some non-fiction, some heavy reads, some fluffy reads. I have an ongoing list of what I want to read and anticipate the pleasure of crossing off each title.
In my home, I’m a big advocate for reading, and thankfully, all my children are readers. When they were smaller, I implemented “No Glowing Boxes” for the entire summer (glowing boxes are the overarching term I use for TV, Game Boys, video games and anything else that is square and glows). This boundary gave us permission to stop the frenzy of activities and enjoy the peace that surrounds us when the only sound is the flipping of pages. Now that they’re older, I cut out glowing boxes for a day or two. Which brings me to the first reason.
REASON #1: Boundaries give you permission to take a break from the norm.
One of my favorite activities is our “Read and Feed” days. This is a selected time that is dedicated to reading and feeding (clever, right?). We grab snacks and drinks, spread out blankets in the grass, or lounge on the hammock, or curl up in our favorite reading corner and begin to read. It takes a little while to allow our hearts to settle and let our minds fully unwind from the frantic pace of life, and enter into the imaginative worlds that our books paint for us.
Sometimes we’ll set aside a whole day for reading. Other times it’s just a few hours. The self-imposed boundary of No Glowing Boxes (phones included) gives me the peaceful respite that I need to feel fully present in the lazy days of summer, which brings me to the next reason.
REASON #2: Goals help you mark your “achievement” of rest.
What are your summer goals? Maybe you enjoy movies more than books. Or perhaps you love a good afternoon of playing board games. What makes that special for you? My children are all musical, and they love a good old-fashioned movie with great music. On most Thursday nights, we watch a musical together. Sometimes it’s one we’ve seen before, but we still love the swell of music like the soundtracks to Les Miserables or The Phantom of the Opera. Other times we watch the silly ones like the Court Jester with Danny Kaye, or even Men in Tights. Either way, it’s a time for us to come together and enjoy the space between us.
REASON #3: Goals and boundaries help you be purposeful so the summer doesn’t pass you by.
What traditions do you have in your home or with your friends? What goals could you make for the summer that would make it more restful for you? It’s not easy to recapture the lazy days we experienced as children, and often a weeklong vacation isn’t enough for us to reset. What can you do in the in the next few weeks to give yourself that mental space you so desperately need?
I said to myself, “Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings …” –Psalm 116:7 MSG
What activities do you enjoy most? What speaks rest and relaxation to you? What boundaries do you need to put in place to make that happen? Set a goal, and do what is in your heart that will bring you summertime rest. My advice? No glowing boxes.