Every summer I fall for the same lie – summer is synonymous with a slower pace of life. School is out. Things will slow down. We can catch our breaths and relax.
Then I blink and the days of summer are over as quickly as they began. Gone is summer and the illusion that life would slow down for a few months. Maybe you too can relate?
The daily routine of rushing kids out the door to school ceased. Packing backpacks. Lunches. Ushering them into another school day.
But somehow, we manage to pack summer full of activity. Every. Single. Day. Yes, school paused, but everyday life did not.
Work doesn’t pause for summer break either. Neither do extra-curricular activities. In fact, many ramp up into overdrive during the summer months. Sports. Music lessons. Even tutoring.
And then we add more to our schedule – vacations and camps. Yes, vacations and camps are fun, but when it comes to both with children there is a lot that goes into planning and preparing. We pack for not only ourselves, but a household. Vacations are a privilege, but really family vacations are just taking the everyday show on the road.
The past two years we discovered the beauty of vacation rentals for our family of five. A house with a kitchen, bedrooms, and space. It’s amazing.
And my favorite part? Having a kitchen where we could cook kid-friendly meals and a washer and dryer where we could do laundry. I did at least one load of laundry every day. On. Vacation. And I was thrilled at how much easier it made our lives. I think that pretty much sums up summer vacation – the business of everyday life scattered with fun.
And this past summer working part-time from home with kids, I realized everything requires boundaries.
No one else is going to decide for us we are doing too much.
No one else will tell us we are overwhelmed or overcommitted.
No one else will set up our schedule so we can thrive.
If we allow others to dictate our schedules and set our boundaries, we will be simultaneoulsy overworked, overwhelmed, and constantly underperforming.
We must self-advocate. For our sanity. For our health. For our schedule. Only we can decide what a sustainable healthy schedule looks like for us. And it’s unique to each of us.
We need to say “no” to some things so we can say “yes” to what is most important. We need to remember every year, that summer will be over before we realize it. If we indeed want to foster that feeling of relaxation and slowing down during the summer months, it won’t happen by chance. It requires just as much effort and planning as a family vacation. It requires building in buffer time. Intentionality. Creating margins. For not only us, but our children too.
Culture tells us we need to go, go, go. Our kids need to be doing all the time, but we need to be the ones to assert that they need breaks too. They need time to unwind from school and their constant extra-curricular activities too.
And this is why my friends I have been silent these past few months. I realized I needed to prioritize time with my children during a very short and fleeting window know as – summer break. In an ideal world this would have been planned and announced ahead of time, but like so many decisions in life, this became an on-the-spot in the moment decision. An embrace and acceptance of my own limitations.
May we have the freedom to let go of the lie that summer is automatically synonymous with a slower pace of life. May we learn to embrace and accept our own limitations so we can intentionally set a healthy sustainable pace. May we have the courage and confidence to self-advocate as we discern and prioritize what is most important to us, even if it leaves us feeling like we are dropping balls we would love to be carrying. May we enjoy the brevity of summer and create space to recharge and refresh whenever possible.