In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way
I have to go to bed by day.
~Robert Louis Stevenson
Summer schedules. Those two words do not seem to go together to most kids. And yet, I want to propose a plan whereby summer can still be somewhat carefree. (After all, that’s what most people love about summer.) Yet, our children can all still be engaged in learning, developing disciplines for their lives, building relationships and memories, and more.
We are night owls here at the Reish family, so I’m not here to put a guilt trip on people who stay up late—and tell them that their entire family should be up at six in the morning year round. For years and years, I fought my and Ray’s tendencies to function better at night. However, we are not ones to pull out isolated Scriptures and make them rules for our lives. The idea that “early I will find thee,” is definitely in the Bible. Then again, so is the fact that God is found in the night watches and “late at night on my pillow I sought thee.” Truly, God can be found late at night AND early in the morning! Thus, saying that one sleep cycle is more righteous than another simply isn’t true.
I’m not advocating a time table in which everybody should be on in order to raise our children for God! I am here advocating patterns and constances that make us successful. For us, this has meant that for nearly our entire twenty-seven years of parenting, we have followed the same PATTERN/schedule year round for our kids upon rising. We get up in the morning and do morning routines, chores, and devotions, regardless of whether it is July or January. Then we usually read aloud together. Then we do whatever is on the agenda—school, work, projects, play together, have free time (especially smaller kids in the summer), etc.
We do this because regardless of whether a person is fifty or five, there are things that we just need to do all the time. These patterns have helped our children grow up with extremely strong self discipline. Our adult kids, at ages 27, 24, 22, almost 20, and almost 18, get more done in a day than most adults I know. And they still, as adults, read, grow, learn, and give to others on a daily basis.
How can you apply this principle to your summer? What do you want your kids’ summer to look like? Staying up until three and sleeping until noon? Then hanging out with friends until bed again? Or do you want to help them learn some skills? Spend some quality time with them? Have them read a little? You can determine the kind of summer you and your children have.
What if you had an earlier bedtime (ours is midnight for our teens—they don’t require much sleep!) and had them get up, do a few chores, read with you, and start your day together?
What if you had a chapter-book-a week plan for their reading this summer? What if you taught each child a new recipe or a new cleaning skill? Summer can be fun and profitable!