Here we are in the full swing of summer. It’s warm. It’s sunny. The memory of winter is distant, and snow is a subject we are eager to avoid.
In the North Dakota winter, I’m pretty good at entering hibernation mode with my kids. Since they are young, it’s an EVENT to get them ready and loaded in the car. I go out at least once every two weeks to attend MOPS meetings at church, but other than that, our calendar is wide open.
When I crawled out of hibernation mode last April, a friend asked me what I had planned for summer.
Nothing. Nada. Zip.
Our calendar was wide open.
I honestly don’t know what happened. When I look at our calendar now, it is FULL. To the brim. There are five days in July where nothing is going on. Five. Out of thirty-one.
When I first realized just how busy our summer was looking, I have to be honest. I started to feel a little sorry for myself.
“Oh, woe is me! I have too many things to do!”
But come on, let’s look at this with a bit of optimism.
I have family to see, friends to visit, and fun things to do!
Here in North Dakota we get, what, 1/3 of the year to enjoy the warm outdoors before we have to crawl back into our wintery dens, left to peer out the metaphorically frosty windows with hopes of an early spring.
So yes, while we are still able to go outside without wearing multiple layers, we try to fill our blessed summer with as much fun as we can.
But, a busy schedule is not an easy schedule. (Note above where I said I was feeling sorry for myself…). When kids have a busy schedule, that means mom’s schedule is even busier. Because who gets to do all the packing and all the prep work? This gal.
Even though summer is crazy busy, there are just some things that I need to do to help keep a slower pace (if you can even call it that!).
Here are my five vows to help keep my busy summer a sane one.
1. I vow to just let it go. Let it goooooo. (I’m assuming you will get the Frozen reference…) When the weather’s nice, go outside! The house can stand a little neglect. Don’t worry about the little things. I have kids who are messy snackers. In fact, my daughter will dump a bowl of snacks all over my living room floor. She recently happened to dump a bowl of dry cornflakes by the window. Whenever I would go to look out the window, I would feel the crunch of cornflakes beneath me, say “Oh yeah, I forgot about those…”, and carry on with my day. I think they were there for 4-5 days before I even made an effort to vacuum them up. Let it go. Go outside and play!
2. I vow to say no. Just because it’s on the calendar doesn’t mean that it’s absolutely necessary. A few of my days in July are definitely optional, such as Tuesdays with children’s music in the park. While it’s a lot of fun and the kids love going, if I’m not feeling it, I’m not going to go. And some days the kids might not be feeling it. A couple weeks ago, I signed my preschooler up for a second “day camp” (it’s only an hour long) at the zoo because he really enjoyed the first one. The night before camp he told me, “I don’t want to be busy. I just want to stay home tomorrow.” Me too, buddy. Me, too. So the next day I gave him the option to not go. Yes, I would be out the registration fee (only $14), but who cares?? If doing something seems like more of a hassle, just don’t do it. And don’t force your kids to be busy in an unnecessary way. Being too busy stresses kids out just as much as it stresses out adults.
3. I vow to make time to kick back, relax, and do nothing. This has been huge for me this summer. Amidst the chaotic calendar, I make time to just sit outside and watch the kids play. Because (hello!) that’s what summer is all about. This usually involves the kids back and forth from the pool to the water table to the sandbox. This involves me sitting in a lawn chair with a magazine just chilling…Of course I could be inside vacuuming up corn flakes, but they can wait until fall. And who knows, perhaps they will biodegrade by then and I won’t have to worry about them 🙂
4. I vow to leave the phone out of sight. It is so true that cell phones can be addicting. I am guilty at times of having my face buried in it when I should be doing other things. Like talking to my kids. Like playing with my kids. So enough of the phone already! I do not want my kids to see me with it. I do not want my kids to have to wait for me to finish a text or to finish checking something trivial before I will give them attention. My kids deserve my presence, so that’s what I will give them. And not keeping up with the rest of the world is a great way to keep my world a little slower-paced.
5. I vow to not worry about my appearance. (This is easier said than done for me!) There have been many, many mornings when my kids want to immediately go outside. So we do. Jammies and all. I’m not fresh-faced (unlike celebs who take morning selfies to post on Instagram, I’m not fortunate enough to have that morning glow…), none of us have brushed our teeth, and our hair is crazy. No worries about appearance. I have contemplated starting a regular exercise schedule, but you know what…I don’t want to take the time to do it. Summer is not when I should be starting this. I don’t want to give up more of my precious time. And if I try to commit to an exercise schedule, but then fail because I’m too busy with other things, it’s just going to make me feel guilty. Yes, swimming suit season is here, but I’m just going to go with it. I am who I am.
6. I vow to take frequent walks or bike rides in the evenings with my family. Well, maybe this can solve #4. It’s at least a little exercise, right? 🙂 But that’s not why I’m vowing to take an evening walk. When my husband and I first got married, I bet we took an evening walk with our dog five times a week in the summer. We continued this tradition once our son was born. Since we’ve moved and now have two kids, our evening strolls have really become infrequent. And I think it’s because our days are so busy. By the time we settle down and have supper, it seems like it’s bath time for the kids, story time, and bed time. The days go by soooo fast. The hubs and I just discussed the other night that we are going to make a serious effort to bring back these evening walks. They are a great way to slow down the pace and unwind after a hectic day.
Reflecting at my “vows,” I see that the key to them is to just relax. To not set such a high standard for myself. To just let go. Because even though summers are busy, they are meant to be enjoyed.
So here’s to a great summer! A summer filled with friends, family, and fun!