Every summer, I fight between the desire to let my kids have a restful, flexible summer & working to keep us all on some form of schedule. And usually what happens is that I ignore the voice in my head that is screaming, “remember you all work best with routine & rhythm” and I tell myself, “Oh, what the heck! You can go with the flow.” It’s summer right?
And then… we hit July. And all that flexibility & unpredictability has my head spinning.
The days have been all chopped up and each week has looked different than the one before. And it feels like we have to find a new routine each Monday morning. Instead of keeping a consistent pattern for my work, I snatch moments of productivity whenever they show themselves or if I can really push myself, I sneak in some time before the house wakes up.
Summoning the energy to keep it all going in summer is hard work! I often want to head for the hills, throw in the towel, give up. But I know that won’t feel any better. Somehow there has to be a middle ground. All is not lost, right?
So what do you do when the routine that you had put in place gets thrown off?
Here are a few things that I vow to try this summer so I can enjoy those spontaneous, summer moments while still holding on to some pieces of the routine that I crave. See if they resonate with you and your own summer shuffle.
1. Make a shift
When summer hits, I need to make a shift in my usual expectations. This isn’t a time to expend a lot of extra energy starting, learning or trying to implement something totally new unless it is creative, easily accessible, and/or doesn’t take big chunks of time. I can still set goals for the summer, but often they need to be a little smaller or come in a different form.
All is not lost if we shorten or shift our list of expectations. What have you been pushing to achieve that just isn’t happening this summer? Could you chunk this big goal into smaller, more manageable pieces? Or maybe you can shift your expectation & let your summer goals be around creativity & curiosity.
2. Seize opportunities
Each day I watch for a chance to keep at least one piece of my usual routine. Usually it comes in the form of a daily walk. The time of day when I make this happen is flexible in the summer, but it gives me a chance to have a little time on my own and a sense of normalcy in those unpredictable days. I get a chance to check in with myself, listen to a podcast, or enjoy nature-all things that keep me sane!
When you keep some part of the routine, even if you just envision yourself doing it, it will be easier to pick up when life opens back up. Watch for opportunities to fit in some part of your usual routine.
3. Get some clarity
It feels like a new opportunity to say yes knocks on the door each day of the summer (and in our case, it literally does since my son has a great group of friends in the neighborhood – plans could develop in an instant!). That means each day I need a short list of the day’s true priorities that I can keep in mind when faced with a chance to change course. Then I can make decisions based on how much it will throw a wrench in the things that “just can’t wait” and how much energy I am willing to expend to shift gears or re-arrange.
It is great to be able to go with the flow, but too much accommodating & rearranging can lead to resentment & just plain crabbiness. Notice when you have reached your capacity for flexibility & be ok with putting up a boundary around your time & priorities. Or look for a way to reach a compromise so you are’t giving up what you need. Could you still get bills paid or emails responded to from a chair at the pool? Hmm…
4. Change the game-plan
After seasons of feeling frazzled at the middle of the summer, I knew it was time to try something different, so this year our July does involve more camps & longer structured activities to offer everyone a stretch of consistency. It’s an experiment to see if a break from go-with-the-flow days will offer us a little recharge or leave us more depleted.
Watch for signs that things aren’t working & make a change. Sign your kids or yourself up for a last-minute class that provides some consistency or ask the teenager down the street to take your kids for a couple hours each week & create a mini-routine. A break could be just the boost you need to enjoy the months before we are locked into a school schedule.
Summer can be an amazing time for exploration, creativity & just plain fun when you can make the days work for you not against you. I’d love to hear what you do to keep a little routine going when summer hits. Comment below!