The new year brings with it the promise of a fresh start. We make goals and write resolutions. We edit lesson plans and evaluate our students’ progress. Then, we forge full-steam ahead into the new year convinced that our efforts will be fruitful. But, what happens before winter’s end? We are completely exhausted! Why is this? I think the answer lies in the season itself.
We need only look to God’s design in nature to help us understand the winter season. Winter is a time of rest. The trees stand dormant with their stored energy to sustain them. Animals hibernate or stay burrowed below ground with their stored food supply. So, why do we convince ourselves that January is the time for new beginnings? The time for new beginnings is spring. I think that if we could learn to rest and teach that skill to our children, we could avoid the dreaded winter burn-out.
The importance of resting, or being still, can clearly be seen in the life of Jesus. He often retreated to quiet times of solitude. I can remember having times of stillness when I was a child. I would play alone outside or just swing and stare at the clouds. This was a regular part of my life back then. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my children. There are too many electronic diversions that occupy their time. I don’t make it a habit to find time for quiet rest either, except when I lay my head down to sleep each night, but that’s not the type of rest I mean. I feel that the Lord has laid it upon my heart to make a change. Perhaps you feel convicted, too.
I remember a fellow homeschooling mom once told me that her kids had a set rest time every day. When she told me this, I thought it was just for her sake. I thought she needed the break each day for her own sanity. However, now I think she was on to something. She was teaching her kids the importance of taking a quiet break. She was teaching her kids to be still. I don’t think you have to send your kids to bed every day to take a rest, unless they need a nap, but you can set aside a time for stillness. Put a temporary ban on electronics and noise and have each person retreat to his or her own space. You’ll have to decide how much time is appropriate for your family. Make sure that you are taking a break, too. You also need to learn to be still. Don’t fill this time with housework! Take a rest. Spend the time in prayer or just watch the birds outside of your window and quiet your mind.
So, instead of beginning the year with a plan of new activities, remind yourself that winter is a season of rest. It is the perfect time to learn how to be still. Create a habit of quiet time for you and your children now and it will sustain you daily throughout the year.