Summer break. Summer chaos.
Summer is upon us and the chaos has already begun. Most people assume that summer vacation will be a “nice break” from the hustle-and-bustle of life, but with the transitions in our schedules, our kids and our lives it often can become a bit hectic…or a LOT hectic. Pretty soon you might even find yourself wishing summer was over altogether and you could get back to the scheduled, consistent and dependable daily grind.
But have hope! Here are some ways you can enjoy a REAL summer break:
Get present and take care of yourself. Spend a few minutes each morning getting yourself grounded and ready for your day. Set a plan for the summer, promising yourself that you will do your best to “Live in the moment.” For example, have fun regardless of what you’re doing and remind yourself to make memories.
Get organized. Get a dry erase calendar and create a tentative schedule of activities for the summer, making certain everyone in your family can see it and commit upon it. Planning will begin to feel more manageable if you can see your activity dates coming, and setting goals more obtainable.
Ask for help. Always remember, when you are part of a family, you’re never alone. If your summer activities and goals start to feel overwhelming, ask for help. Your friends, family, neighbors, or even the lady at the Tom Thumb checkout can be a resource when you hit a bump in the summer road.
Create a strong container, both for yourself and your kids. The practice of mindful living, with love being its contents, always needs a container. Without it, we have no way to effectively create the right environment for success. This practice can be as simple as cutting down on your physical possessions, or limiting your commitments and responsibilities, both of which can crowd our mental activity. The more simple the container, the stronger and effective it will be even under the intense pressure.
Now it’s time to combine these action items into a singular plan for your summer break, including the relationship you have with your children.
I recommend having a family conversation, using the whiteboard or something visual where you can actively engage with your kids in HOW to create a strong container. Start by making two columns, asking them what they WANT and NEED to have a fun summer. Have them list out these suggestions (without commenting) in the first column. Then in the second column, list out what you (the parents) WANT and NEED to obtain these goals, including any/all parental and child responsibilities that go along with what they asked for.
The last part of creating a container is to make clear agreements so everyone gets most of what they want or need. Revisit your container often, post it on the wall or talk about it at family dinners or on vacations. The clearer you all are, the more likely the container will hold strong. As Brene Brown said in her recent Netflix special, “clear is kind, unclear is unkind”.
You get to create as many (or few) of these summertime containers; vacations, activities, meetings, relationships, etc.
These conversations and the agreements had with your children create containers that will hold the entire summer strong and in alignment with your values and goals. Will it be perfect? No, of course not, but taking time to create and explore these activities will teach your family how to make the most out of their summer break, as well as give you peace-of-mind.