Lessons Learned From Summer Break

Summer is winding down, kids are returning to school and if you listen carefully (and/or are honest), one can hear an angelic chorus quietly singing “Hallelujah” in the background.  Peace and order are replacing the ruckus and chaos that often accompanies school breaks.

I took a sabbatical this summer from work and blogging for a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to concentrate on researching for two books I plan to be working on this year. And two, I wanted to have focused time with my kids. It’s hard for me to multi-task. I get frazzled and before long I’m standing in the front yard, wearing my bathrobe yelling at the house as all nearby animals (and children) take cover.

frazzled womanIt’s not pretty.

So, what did I do or accomplish with all this free time you may be wondering?

Not near as much as I thought that I would but I did come away with some new insights.

1.    Social media sucks. Okay – my mom hates it when I use that word so I automatically feel the need to apologize – but she’s not online anyway so I feel safe using it. However it’s true. Social media is a time sucker and if you’re not careful it steals your attention away from the people in the room with you.

Hello, my name is Laurie and I am a social media junky.

Daily I caught myself picking up my phone to do a quick read through of Facebook or Instagram as my daughter or son watched. Before long we were a room of zombies, glued to nearest gadget.

I had to consciously make myself put the phone down and break out of the social media force that surrounded us. Laurie! Step away from the phone!

This wasn’t always easy but I realized I was modeling a behavior that they were very eager to mimic. However, when I did, there was a change in their countenance when I was fully present with them.

2.    Life is not about me (dang it).  When I decided do the sabbatical I imagined lazy mornings and large breakfasts with the whole family on the porch each day. Instead, I got up early, (really early), ate peanut butter toast while driving my daughter across town for swim team practice.

It wasn’t what I had planned, but it was wonderful. Each morning I had Anastasia to myself – just the two of us in the car. She knew the sacrifice that was being made and she thanked me daily. I was helping her meet a swimming goal and we were able to celebrate her victories together.

It wasn’t restful, but it was beautiful.

3.    Embrace the uncomfortable. I have to be honest. I don’t truly enjoy jumping off the diving board, at a public pool, in a bathing suit…as a middle-aged woman. To quote myself from above, “Its not pretty.”

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah!

But my kids love it – at least for now. That may change in a couple of years when I do a belly flop in front of their peers.

After dinner, I’d rather sit on the porch with Mark and a glass of wine and watch them play soccer on the trampoline. But, they love it when we join them.

Sometimes the thing I loath, let’s see…uh, video games, is what my child loves. Although, the times that I put aside my preferences and played  video games with Noah, he would smile like I just bought him a brand new car. He’s teenager, who’s beginning to pull away, but when I spend time doing what he loves, he takes a huge step back to me.

Biking in Ketchum

Biking in Ketchum

It wasn’t a summer of bliss. There were fights – a lot of them. The finances got tight – a little too tight. We got bored – too easily.

I still spent too much time on social media. I didn’t always get in the pool. I didn’t always agree to play video games. I didn’t get as much research done for work, as I wanted.

But, there was a lot of togetherness.

It may not have made me richer, but it made me wiser.




  1. Donna Stewart says:

    Well done, Lauri. I am so proud of you. Quality family time is the best thing you can do with and for your children and husband. I am thankful the Lord has put that on your heart while your kids are still home. I had to work while raising 3 children as a single parent. I spent a lot of evenings with them but if I could to it over I would spend more time with them. I went to every Little League game but I would stay for every practice too. I took my boys to the school playground while my daughter and I were in a classroom for Brownie’s and Girl Scouts. When it rained the boys were inside with us. That should have been a time with my daughter. I don’t feel guilty and as my youngest son says, “Mom did the best she could.” Bless his heart. And may God continue to bless you and your family.

    • Donna Stewart says:


    • Laurie Russell says:

      Donna – you are the best and are a great example to why so many single parents are my heroe! Your kids are blessed to be able to call you their mother. 🙂 You even took your parenting role a step further and shared your wisdom and love with so many of us. You filled the role of “mother” when we were away from our own families in Russia. You are a fountain of love and wisdom my friend. You allowed your situation to make you better instead of bitter and God has blessed many through you for it – just another reason we all love you so much!!! 🙂

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