Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Holding On to Barefoot Days

There's nothing quite like the barefoot days of summer--days for our children to run and leap and dance with the warm earth under their toes.

Even as the unmistakable hints of fall emerge--the auburn patch of leaves at the peak of the maple tree, the blanketed nights, the scent of autumn in a crisp gust of wind--we know that there are still many more barefoot days to enjoy in the coming weeks.  And we will make time for these days.  Even as fall classes and activities emerge--soccer, math class, basketball, Parts & Crafts, Museum of Fine Arts classes, homeschool park days, and all those museum and library trips---we will make time for those warm, open barefoot days of late summer and early fall. 

For it's important, don't you agree, to grant our children that time and space--that freedom--so singularly represented by barefoot days, to just be.  Even as jackets and schedules tighten, even as we move into newer fall rhythms, we will make a clear effort to hold on to the message of these barefoot days, the message of slower, simpler schedules and wide-open days.

As Simplicity Parenting author, Kim John Payne, states: "When we really look at what happens for a kid when they slow down, tune in to themselves, take space and get busy in serious play, we can see that what they are learning is how to create a kind of inner structure that will serve them (and us) well in the world ahead."

It takes some doing in the hurried pace of modern life to prioritize simpler schedules, to place a higher value on open, unstructured time for our children--and ourselves.  As Payne concludes: "Until we see clearly what our goals are and how to meet them, we will forever be on this rollercoaster of trying to zoom ahead and then putting on the breaks -- a life of whiplash for American families." 

Holding on to summer's barefoot days even as September nears, even as commitments grow, can help us to avoid that whiplash and place a higher value on slower, simpler days.  It can help us to clarify our values and achieve our goals, and can help us to connect more deeply with family, community, and the soil beneath us.

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