The month of May has a long history of punching us in the face, and this year was no different. The end-of-school-year barrage is unrelenting with field days, curriculum nights, class parties and soccer season wrap up. And with five kids? Exponentially bananas.
I talk a lot about planning, routines and staying organized, but as important as all of those are to running a family well, it’s equally important to just. let. go.
In certain seasons we must ease up on the reins and take a breather if we expect to maintain any sort of order in the seasons that follow. Summer is one of life’s natural “slow seasons” for our family, and we embrace it wholeheartedly. This doesn’t mean we let all of our systems and planning go to pot so that we end up stressed out and having to start all over in a few months, but it does mean taking a mental and physical break from the grind. Intentional relaxation is a choice and it’s a skill, and here are the ways we embrace it:
We talk about about it. I know…crazy, right? Simply having a family discussion to say, “hey…things have been super busy and we’re all feeling frazzled and tired and grumpy so we are going to take these next several weeks to relax” not only lets the kids know that your family intentionally values relaxation, but it also does them a world of good to teach them about recognizing and responding to life’s rhythms.
Enter teacher tangent. One of the most difficult issues I see teenagers working through is the inability to appropriately schedule and balance life. They know that they feel busy and stressed out, but they aren’t able to accurately identify their stressors. They hear so many adults talk about being busy and stressed out that they think that’s what life is about. In order for children to understand life’s natural ebbs and flows as well as the ones they create by choosing extra-curriculars, hobbies, etc., we must explicitly teach them how to identify them and how to plan for and respond to them.
Break up the routine. We lean into relaxation by putting just a little more effort into getting out of our routine. Rather than just saying we’re going to be more relaxed, we’ve been intentional about building it into our daily life. For us, the month of June has meant:
- Family meetings are much shorter.
- We take a break from our nightly chore checklists.
- We catch (and release) fireflies instead of reading books.
- We opt for nightly porch-sitting instead of Netflix zombie time.
- We intentionally write fewer things on the to-do list.
Say “Yes” more often. After a season of what felt like a lot of “no’s,” it sure does feel good to just say, “sure…why not?”
Popsicles and chips as a side dish? Go for it.
Can the pool count as our shower? You bet. Chlorine kills stuff I think.
Can we stay up to watch all of American Ninja Warrior? Yep. It kinda counts as exercise.
Can I make a banana chocolate clementine smoothie? Sounds delish.
Lunch on the trampoline? Sure.
This isn’t necessary parenting gold, but it’s provided some much needed relief for our family. I still keep my planner and my Active Work Station in order, but four out of seven meals are likely to include watermelon and corn on the cob, and I’m learning to be okay with laundry day getting bumped in favor of another trip to the pool.
Plus, the actual time “off schedule” only builds my excitement to get back “on schedule”. I’m already excited to dive into my ‘16-’17 academic planner…after a few more weeks of doing not much at all. I’d love to know how your family leans into summer! Share in the comments!