Monday, July 14, 2014

Using VBS as a Restorative Retreat


kayakers off the coast of Bellingham Bay

This past week the kids enjoyed a full week's schedule of games, activity stations, skits, sugar, and friends. Apart from me. Full on 6 hours a day in someone else's care. It was glorious.

Our local church holds a day camp from 9AM-3PM every day for one full week in July every year. It's an outside group called CEF who puts it on, Northwood is just the landing place for their first week. Last year, Lukka was able to participate and had a really fun time. Ani cried on the two-block walk home, because she didn't get to go. We spent almost the entire week hanging out at the local jazz festival, and playing with friends. Now that she is kindergarten age, she could attend. 

It is not an exaggeration to state that I was possibly the most excited

In nearly 18 months since we moved, I had had one other extended break (4 days) away from my kids. Four days. In a  year and a half. While homeschooling full-time. I had hit burnout ages ago but out of necessity, 'we gotta' do what we gotta do' so didn't think about it too much. I was looking forward to an entire week of me. I was almost panicky thinking 'what if one of them gets sick in the week?' and trying not to think about the resentment I'd feel if that actually happen (thank you Jesus!, it didn't). I knew I wouldn't be able to go to Malibu this year for financial reasons, and so this week was so needed.

I often get the feeling that VBS (vacation bible school) gets a bad rap. I didn't grow up going to anything like this, nor had the flannel board experience as a child, so VBS to me is a really neat event for community kids. I'm not jaded, but I'm also not volunteering. I mean, I can bring a large amount of snacks, sure, but I'm not remotely interested in signing myself up for anything but minimal background help at this stage in my life--and I'm completely unapologetic about it. 

See, those day camp workers, they not only blessed the children who attended with games, stories, and snacks, they blessed me by giving me a breather that I desperately needed. A week to regain some focus and inspiration. A week of quiet, reflection, lost creativity, and most importantly, time to recalibrate the spinning wheels. 

Yeah, sure, I was able to keep the house relatively clean last week, get errands done in the sweet half-time it takes without children present, and workout in the morning as opposed to the afternoon  that I have to wait until when my kids are in their rooms for quiet time, but I also set aside time for hanging out with a friend one-on-one, learning a new art practice and spending time doing it, and making myself really delicious and fresh meals that would elicit groans and whines, and ate them leisurely, in peace. 

Of course, all good things come to an end, and the week went all too quickly. I felt refreshed. So, thank you Vbs Volunteers who work so hard to encourage our children to the gospel through science experiments, cheesy skits, and your kindness. You gave our family a double gift: care and attention to the littlest, and time and restoration to the oldest. You've blessed me immeasurably by just allowing me to drop my kids off everyday, you've welcomed them with a smile, and allowed me the freedom to back away and leave, carefree, for a week on my own.

1 comment:

Victoria Wilson said...

Yaaaaaaaaaaay VBS! lol It's funny, my family did CEF clubs at my home church. What a coincidence!

So glad you were able to enjoy some R&R sans-kiddos. I feel like I'm just staring down the barrel of life full of kids and knowing little moments of rest will be so important to grab when I can. Way to go mama!