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It’s official. We’re in a new season. In the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve just passed the longest day of the year. Summer has arrived. Depending on your circumstance, summer can mean three months of warm, lazy days and nights...or endless weeks of wrangling littles who are out of school.
Most moms with school-age children feel a bit of panic at the start of summer vacation. I’ve recently heard at least a dozen moms lament that having their kids home is really "kicking their butts"!
I get it.
As a mom of three, I’ve sometimes had a love/dislike (hate’s too strong a word for the season of sunshine:-) relationship with summer.
The dog days of this season can seem longer and hotter when the kids are home all day.
The end seems completely out of sight.
Until it isn’t.
I can see the end. At least I can glimpse it when my eyes aren’t full of tears.
This is my eighteenth summer as a mom.
The days of wondering what I’m going to do, plan, create, or invent to help keep my three children entertained are long gone.
If I find myself counting the minutes until nap-time, it will be for my own nap.
It’s highly possible that I’ll see less of my children in the coming weeks than I do during the school year.
But the absolute, knock-the-wind-out-of-me kicker...is that this year, at the end of these sun-drenched nine weeks... it will be time to pack up my oldest and send her off to college.
I’m no longer the mom who’s dreading summer because of how exhausting it is to have small children at home...all day...when you’ve grown accustomed to having a few hours to yourself.
I’ve crossed over to the other side of parenting.
The side where my kids are busy doing their own thing...and my first born's childhood is wrapping up.
And while almost all of me is completely good with it, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to the sometimes crushing sadness I feel at this milestone.
I know this is exactly what should be happening now. I’ve worked really hard for 18 years to arrive at this point, but it sure changes how I feel about summer break.
I’ve always loved summer.
Sunshine and warm temperatures are the foundation of my happy place.
But when I look back over the past 18 summers, I recall lots of stuff I resisted…
smearing sunscreen on squirmy, sweaty little bodies,
too many errands with tired, crabby toddlers,
a bathtub 'swim' to cool them off when they looked like they might have heat stroke,
wiping sticky hands after a melty, messy Popsicle.
And sadly, I’m certain I said, "No" too often.
I’m more present now than I was back then. I pay attention better...possibly because my 'mom tasks' are fewer. We all have more time and more energy at this stage of the game.
But, August is coming fast. I can feel it waiting just up ahead.
My plan is to settle in. I’m going to soak up this summer. I’ll deep dive into all the feels of having Greta prepare for her next chapter.
And I'll begin preparing myself for mine.
After a bit of soul-searching, I've decided there are some things I could change to help make this summer more enjoyable and ultimately more memorable.
I’m committed to the following simple tweaks to bring added presence and joy to this fleeting season...
Really listen. Put down my phone and ignore my computer when my kids want my attention. Yes, I should already be doing this...but sometimes I don’t. This one simple shift and the season already feels better.
Eye contact. They deserve this. Always. Morning, noon and night, I love the sight of these people. They matter. Hopefully, this gesture helps to remind them of that important fact.
Hug more. I think sometimes I shy away from hugging my kids because their teenage bodies feel so big against mine. Their little kid selves are almost undetectable now that they’re tall and strong and capable...and some days that's crazy painful for me. Get over it, Kristen. Hugs those kids!
Laugh often. Have fun together time each week. Within the fullness of everyone's schedule, sometimes we forget to laugh. I’ve never been the ‘fun mom’, and while I can’t go back, I can bring more fun and silliness into Now.
Keep it fresh. I vow to do one new thing every week. Last week it was as simple as buying two boxes of packaged, frozen treats. Ice cream sandwiches and Dilly bars. So simple. My kids lit up with delight. This week, Greta and I took our first High Fitness class together!
Stay present. Aim for less internal and external freaking out about the future. Now is Now...all three of my kids are home this summer. I’m going to be here too.
Skin care. I'll apply sunscreen happily when asked. This will be my job for only a few more summers. I'm certain I'll actually miss it. Luckily, there are still some areas it’s easier for mom to reach...my pleasure.
Read and nap. This one's just for me. Self-care:-) I’m settling in to this new habit quite nicely. A few pages of a good book followed by 20 minutes of shut eye and I’m a new girl!
Be the driver. Willingly and with a smile. I have no licensed teenage drivers at my house. I’m okay with that. Two have permits and we’re quickly rounding the corner to a time when I won’t need to drive them anywhere.
Soak up the sun and all the rest of it.
Be here Now.
Do you find summer stressful or relaxing?
How do you stay present to enjoy the season?
Thanks for reading. I hope you're summer is off to an amazing start!
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