Is there really even such a thing as “summer balance”? I am not sure that there is, but I am sure that I want this summer to be amazing. I want less running around and more time to soak up the memories.
So many things over the last few months have shown me just how important these moments are…although I don’t think I ever took them for granted, I also didn’t look for solutions to help give me back the time my kids need from me. On the mother’s day questionaire from my son’s preschool…he answered “How does mommy relax?”, with “Mommy doesn’t relax…I guess we should get a relaxer.” While it was cute, it also made me think about how they see me and how I want them to see me. I think it’s important that they see me following my heart and doing what I love. I think it’s great for them to see first hand how hard work pays off and that you can do anything you set your mind too… but I don’t want them to remember a childhood playing on the floor in my studio while my back was turned to them. Period. There is the balance we need… the understanding that life is filled with work and chores and to-do lists that ARE important, but that the time spent with family, friends, and on your passions are the most valuable.
I took a hard look at what was taking the most time, what I loved doing the most, and what I could let go of a little bit over the summer months. My kids will mostly be with me this year, so I am the activity coordinator and long gone are the days of plastic keys and little people castles. They want to do things, make, create, run, swim, visit friends, and more. They want to do what all kids want to do in summer…. live and revel in the joy of youth! I know that the future isn’t promised, and who knows what next summer will bring… but this summer, I have the chance to enjoy it with them. I can be the memory maker, activity coordinator, art director, and certainly the occasional “riot police”. I love my job and I plan to work over the summer too…like I said… but I do plan to work a little less (and a lot smarter) this year. One of the joys of doing freelance work is having flexablity and it’s about time that I use it to my advantage. I know it will be a struggle, but I have a list in place to help me balance this summer so I can be the memory maker I long to be!
1) Decide right now what you will say no to this summer! I mean it, right now! How many of you agree to tasks when you know you really don’t have time?I am a “YES ma’am” gal and saying no is hard for me. Honestly, it’s ok to be selfish with your time for a few months! Our babies are growing every single day, and each moment is one that we won’t be getting back. Decide now… will you say no to taking extra work projects? Will you say no long hours planning the perfect family dinner, or helping weed your sister’s lawn… so you can say yes to a late afternoon swim with the kids, or playing a game of hide and go seek… Say no to those extra fillers in the day…just for a few months, so you can say yes to time for making memories.
2) Make a list of things you would like to do this summer, then DO THEM! The key to this is to not try and add too much. Instead of making a schedule, make a summer long to do list (a bucket list). Add things in to make allowances for rainy days or sick days like a movie marathon or blanket forts. Add in simple pleasures that can be easily overlooked, but make great memories. One thing I added to our bucket list was to find shapes in the clouds. My kids love doing this while we are driving, but I can’t join in. I am totally looking forward to a day of laying on picnic blankets in the yard and finding shapes in the clouds with them! I created a watercolor summer bucket list here that is available for download!
3) Instead of trying to sneak in work only when the kids are distracted, set aside “down time” every day, when you can work. I remember when I was young, we had to go into our rooms for a break every afternoon. We didn’t have to sleep, but we had to stay in our rooms and play quietly. We could read, draw, or play…as long as we were in our rooms. I can see now that it not only gave us a break to recharge, but it gave our mom a break to get things done…so that she had time for us later! I also have downloaded summer learning packets from teacherspayteachers.com and made binders for each child to work on over the summer. I did this for my oldest last year and we had “work time” where I worked on my projects and she worked in her binder (and little brother would nap). This year, he is going into VPK, so he will have his own binder and we can all have “work time” together.
4) Make a list of chores or projects you can “do” while your kids do something fun. Last summer I started folding laundry outside and I plan to do a lot more of it this year. While the kids swim, I fold laundry. I don’t want to spend valuable time I can work at the computer (like after bedtime or during quiet time) folding laundry. I don’t have to use brain power to fold laundry… I can watch a dive or cannonball and fold towels. I can write a grocery list or plan meals for the week while they are at piano lessons. My goal this summer is to multitask without always being plugged in….which leads to #5
5) Unplug. I am not saying don’t go onto Facebook or check your emails, but I am saying that you have to use self control to keep your time for what really matters! Durning the school year, I try to stay unplugged from the time the kids get home from school until they go to bed, but summer is trickier. Many of us depend on social media to run businesses, so there isn’t any total unplugging for the summer…but there are some helpful tips. First, set times that you all unplug together. Dinner together is extremely important to me, so when we eat, I don’t allow computers or games (or TV usually) to be on. There isn’t anything that can’t wait for you and your family to have a meal together! Second, be intentional with the time you spend on social media. Even though I know I miss a lot, I usually get on social media for a very short period of time. I post, I reply to comments, and I get back off. If you post something (or pin something) right around the same time, I will see it… otherwise I won’t. Honestly I am ok with that because the REALLY important things I will find out anyway! When I am being intentional with my time online, I don’t get sucked in to shopping just because I get a coupon in my email or sucked into a viral video (about how we are online too much…) because it’s in my Facebook feed. Third, when you are enjoying time with others, put the phone, ipad, ect. away or turn it to silent so you won’t be anxious every time there is a ding. Out of sight, out of mind.
What this means for me is that I will be doing a lot more illustration and watercolor work over the summer, and a little less graphic work on the computer. I will disappear from the blog and social media for a few days here and there while I soak up the sunshine and laughs, and I will come back a better person for it! I will be here, but I will be with my family more. I will under-schedule and over enjoy! Won’t you join me?
For some other amazing free summer printables, check out my Blog Hop Friends and the printables that they have put together for you! There are so many darling printables to make sure you make the most of the remainder of this summer!!