Let’s be honest: transitions are difficult. As summer comes to a close, families might despair at returning to a school schedule. Yet children, teens and adults thrive on structure. Does your toddler wake up early whether it’s a weekday or the weekend? As luxurious as summers can be in all their untetheredness, many of us look forward to getting back to Monday-through-Friday and weekend routines.

However your family feels about the transition from summer to school, it can be bumpy. Simply acknowledging the change of pace and mixed feelings can go a long way toward keeping expectations in check.

The book of Ecclesiastes is a reminder of the variety of seasons to life: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven … a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted” (3:1-2). When we expect our summers to be endless, or when society favors a summer attitude over a productive fall, we can find ourselves even more frustrated by the change. But if we hold it all in balance, recognizing that summer gives way to fall and that adjustments are always needed, families can lean into embracing the gifts that school schedules bring rather than lament summer’s ending.

Not every crop grows year-round—the ground needs fallow time.

Ecclesiastes prompts those of us in non-agrarian societies to remember that the natural cycles of our days are necessary for life. Not every crop grows year-round—the ground needs fallow time. The good news is that summer isn’t the end of all leisure.

One way to lessen the rocky road of transitioning into a school year is to recommit to sabbath time for your family. If the school year feels like a rat race, perhaps the sabbath can be your saving grace.

As we head into the busyness of the school year, let’s resolve not to lose the sabbath. Let’s pay attention to the seasons and value their particular gifts, because we need each of them. Let’s say goodbye to endless summer days and embrace the transition to the school year.

Practices

Discuss as a family your goals and expectations for sabbath days during the school year. Find mutually agreeable ways to honor the sabbath that provide for rest and unscheduled time.

Find time at meals or in the car to discuss the impending transition and all it entails. Allow for lamentation and excitement over the changes. Verbalizing it will help children prepare for the change.

Create a family calendar that allows input from everyone. Make it visible to the whole family and take a temperature check on how others feel about the balance between scheduled versus rest time.

Janelle Rozek Hooper
Janelle Rozek Hooper is the program director for the Children's Ministry of the ELCA and the author of Heaven on Earth: Studies in Matthew, published by Augsburg Fortress Press. Hooper lives with her husband and two children in Texas. Her headshot is by Amanda Faucett.

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