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Embracing the summer: making memories while maintaining your sanity!

My children have been out of school for about two weeks. For some of you in other parts of the country it’s been over a month. Either way, there’s a lot left of summer!

And I’m grateful, because I LOVE this season. The extra sunlight, work is a little more relaxed, al fresco dining, leisurely evening walks, nights on our screened in porch, s’mores by the fire pit, exhausted kids after a day at camp, summer baseball, beach days...I could go on and on.

But I’d be lying if I said the summer is all bliss. And it’s a-okay to acknowledge the challenges, while still being grateful for all that summer offers! Here are just a few of those challenges:

· Routines are less consistent in the summer. This can be a blessing when you consider the flexibility, but a curse for those who prefer predictability {me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me}.

· Having children home and the expectation to entertain them 24/7 (“Mom, I’m boooorred”). This gets even more dicey if you’re trying to work from home!

· Young teens who have outgrown day camp, but are not quite ready for a part-time job.

· Managing fluctuating schedules…camp for the young crowd, work for teens and summer sports. For instance, my 10-year-old attends day camp, but I allowed her to try some new options this year with end times that are NOT working parent friendly (cue hand slap to forehead).

It can be daunting combined with the real or self-imposed pressure to make this the BEST SUMMA EVA (or BEST SUMMER EVER, if you’re not from around these parts). As seen on socials, “You only get 18 summers with your kids, make the most of it and enjoy every moment” (cue eye roll).

While well meaning, I will NOT continue this blog post with that narrative in mind.

BUT, I will share five ways you can manage your summer schedule with an eye on making memories and cultivating peace, calm and joy along the way!

1. Balance planning & spontaneity. Without planning ahead, our brain defaults to what’s familiar and easy in the moment. Planning (even a little bit) allows for greater efficiency (with your time and energy) and creates more space for genuine spontaneity. When we’re intentional with our time, we can fully enjoy our “playtime” or free time. Despite planning, something may come up to derail your agenda (e.g., rain on a beach day or when your child wakes up with a fever). This requires a backup plan and a flexible mindset to go with it.

2. Communicate and collaborate. Consider forming a “Summer Bucket List” by sitting down with your family to brainstorm activities, outings, and adventures for the summer. Set the expectation that not all ideas may make it on the list this year. Down-select based on practicality/cost/etc…, e.g., while a trip to Disney may not be feasible, you might consider a day trip to a nearby water park instead. This list will give your brain direction when it comes to planning weekends and free time. Additionally, take a few minutes each week to coordinate schedules and share responsibilities with your spouse or support network.

3. Prioritize quality time. If you can swing it, the week-long vacations are amazing, but don’t underestimate the value of small moments! Time is limited, especially if you have a full-time job and/or multiple children with varying needs. Consider a picnic in the park, a trip to Dunkin before camp, a bike ride, outdoor movies, make your own ice-cream sundae night with friends, swimming at the local state park, evening backyard games with the neighbors {cornhole, wiffleball, bocce, kickball, etc…}. Check your local activities websites for more ideas. These small moments are simple, low cost, don’t require much time {or energy}, and are priceless.

4. For the working Mamas…be deliberate with your time. If you’re feeling that near constant pull between work and home, with a big dose of guilt no matter what you choose, you’re not alone! Stop chasing the elusive “work-life balance”. We can FEEL balanced (or aligned) regardless of how much time we spend in any one area. “Balance” implies a 50/50 split and that very rarely happens. There are times that we’ll choose to lean into different areas of our life and that’s a beautiful thing {more on this topic here}. Be deliberate with how you spend your work time and use time management hacks* to free up space for rest and fun {link to free guide here}. Explore flexible work options and be creative when using vacation time. Remember that quality matters more than quantity choosing how to spend your time. These are all game-changers when it comes to creating a summer plan that’s perfect for you.

5. Shift your mindset. Acknowledge that it’s impossible to do everything and that’s okay! Let go of doing “it” perfectly or trying to be perfect. Personally, I remind myself often that:

· I don’t have to orchestrate non-stop fun for it to be a great summer.

· It’s okay for my kids to be bored sometimes.

· I am doing enough and I am enough.

Summer brings both joys and challenges, no doubt. With a little planning, communicating, prioritizing quality time, managing work responsibilities and shifting our mindset, we can create a summer that’s just right for each of us. I’m embracing all that summer offers while finding peace, calm, and joy along the way. Who’s joining me?

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