One of my favourite things about summer (and weekends in general) is the unhurried pace of our mornings: extra time to snuggle in bed, the slow gathering of people in the kitchen, time to prepare and savour my coffee, choosing what to make for breakfast, and then slowly waking up to the day over breakfast, my favourite meal.
I’ve noticed, however, that the children don’t share this same appreciation for the slow start of a day. They wake up hungry and eager to get going. They eat quickly and then, before I can even finish my coffee, they start showing signs of cabin fever and a readiness for the day. If I’m not quick enough, crankiness can quickly spread from one child to the next before it escalates to full-blown arguments and often tears.
So, while we don’t have a tight schedule or anywhere we need to be, I am aware that we still have to approach the day with a general plan, or at least move quickly enough in the morning to avoid this cranky period of time. I’ve learned that the children need a certain amount of routine and it’s especially important in the morning when they’re full of energy and enthusiasm. The answer this summer has been the rope swing.
Each morning after breakfast, often before I’ve had a chance to get out of my pyjamas, we walk down the beach to the swings: a morning ritual that we all enjoy and one that shakes off the cabin fever and sets the tone for the rest of the day. The minute we set off from the house you can sense the content and excitement in each of the children. We find treasures and search for agates, Marlow collects beach glass, the boys play games and often run up ahead. Ivy usually takes this time to talk to me and share her thoughts and random observations as she walks near my side. We reach the rope swings with an excitement that has built up along the way, and the kids swing with pure delight and squeals of joy.
We return from the rope swings feeling alert and ready to engage and be with each other. We often sit down to examine our treasures, or we’ll start up a craft project or get out our books or journals for quiet reading time. Having swung out their restlessness, they are happy to be more still.
This is something I will have to remember for the upcoming year. I will need to be mindful of the children’s needs and their energy, and to follow their lead when creating a routine that works for our family. If only we could take these rope swings with us for the next year…! : )