Summer! It’s that ice cream cone we’ve been reaching for, salivating in anticipation of, for months. We’ve been reaching for that sweet relief of no homework, no carpool, no morning wrestling matches to get everyone into the car.
Now we’re in a sticky situation: our routine, much like the two scoops of vanilla atop our cone, is melting before our eyes! We might be asking ourselves or our partners:
Did anyone go grocery shopping? Oh wait, we went three days in a row?!
Why are all the towels wet all the time?
How can I possibly get my child to sleep at night when it’s still so bright outside?
How can my teenager possibly sleep all day when it’s so bright outside?
When our routine is offline, we (and the lovely children who share our lives) might be feeling frustrated, harried, edgy, and otherwise discombobulated. These feelings are completely normal! We humans use structure to hang our expectations, our desires, and to keep track of our progress through the days and throughout our lives. If you are feeling any of these tricky, sticky feels, please take a deep breath, send yourself some self-compassion, and consider what are your underlying needs: Do you have a need for rhythm, structure, safety, or rest? Or perhaps a leafy summer salad with all of these needs and a sprinkling of spontaneity on top?
For the sake of your family’s well-being and your own sanity this summer, I invite you to take some time to be both intentional and reflective before the summer momentum rolls you into a stress ball, and not the squishy fun kind.
Here are a few questions to consider as you navigate creating a summer routine that suits everyone:
What are our family values and how can we lean into them this summer?
If your family is looking to anchor togetherness, perhaps a plan to make breakfast together in the mornings or neighborhood walks in the cool of the evening. If you value gratitude, maybe creating a family gratitude jar, journal, or thank you card art station that you visit once a day or once a week can nurture a grateful approach to summer fun.
Intentionally create routine around what your family holds most dear.
What can we declutter from our lives to slow down this summer and really soak up the goodness of being together?
Check in with your calendar, your heart, your co-parent if you’ve got one, and look for unnecessary commitments that are keeping you from living your family values. Balancing work, children, relationships, barbecues, pool time, summer slide prevention, and all the other hot ticket items of the warmest months can be overwhelming. Can something on your work calendar be pushed to next quarter? Can we streamline hangouts and just get everyone together at the community pool? Can we afford some time off to destress?
Consciously saying no to activities that detract from your family values enables you to say yes more often to those that will build the authentic family connections for which you long!
What’s going well in our family?
Accentuate the positive, peeps! Find something to celebrate and do it with summer flair! I’m talking rootbeer floats, running through the sprinklers, and shoe kicking contests! (As children on the farm, when we finished our morning chores we’d take turns kicking off our shoes, measuring for height and distance before running in for breakfast. Strangely satisfying...)
When we take time to acknowledge the beauty in our family relationships, we’re painting a picture of what is and propelling that beauty into our family's future.
Where can we soften to create a safer, more connected relationship with our children?
I love the sticky humid weather in summer, and so I really have to dig into my favorite summer advice: Don’t pretend the heat isn’t getting to you! Summer is pitta season in Ayurveda, and when we’re physically hot we tend to explode more easily. Preempt summer volcanic eruptions by finding some space to cool down, both physically and in your nervous system. What works for you? A cool shower or bath at the end of the day? Resting your feet in the cool grass in the morning? I recommend practicing some cooling Sitali breathing just for funzies and whenever the heat begins to build–-it looks weird, but it really works to cool the body and slow the pace of our thinking so we can make space to act rather than react in those heated moments.
Turning up your physical and nervous system cooling practices along with your AC will help keep you regulated and help your children regulate, too.
And how about this: Instead of resisting, let’s allow the rigorous routine of the school year to melt away, and in its place let's construct an intentional summer scaffold built on the foundation of our own family values and decorated with delicious celebration.