Long summer breaks can be a bag of mixed emotions. On the one hand there’s sweet freedom from early morning starts, rushing and routines. Eating breakfast in your PJ’s. Lunch and dinner whenever anyone’s hungry. Letting the kids live in the same swim suit for days on end. (Hey – it saves on laundry.)
On the flip-side, you’re on full-time mama duty. Your normal daily schedule’s thrown totally out of whack and you’re missing that vital me time. One day morphs into another and after a while you’ve completely lost the plot.
A few years ago I decided not to let my summer feel like a roller coaster ride of happiness and hassles. I broke out my notebook and created a strategy for my Best Summer Yet.
And it worked! Getting clear about what I actually wanted was the key to guiding it in the right direction. It’s become an annual ritual and my summers keep getting better and better.
Here are 3 Steps to Creating Your Best Summer Yet:
1. Get clear about what you want.
In a notebook write down your ideal outcome. Pretend it’s now September and you’re reflecting back on your brilliant summer. Try writing it like a journal entry, describing what you did, how your family connected, how your kids behaved. Get a really clear vision in your mind of the ideal summer you’d like to create.
If you already know some of the plans you have, trips you’re taking, friends or family you’ll see or work you need to keep up with – include these in your vision. Write down how you want each part to pan out.
Next, include your ideal scenario for having some me time to keep you sane. Don’t think about how you’ll make that happen, just get a picture of what kinds of things would feel really good. (My idea of bliss is floating on an inflatable air mattress in a pool – with no kids within splashing or shrieking distance. Gently swinging in a hammock with a great book is heaven on earth to me. Even a glass of cold vino while dinner’s cooking feels like a well deserved treat.)
Most importantly, ask yourself: How do I want to feel this summer? Relaxed, easy going, connected, adventurous, lighthearted, loving… Write down any words that describe how you’d love to feel. (Danielle La Porte is the goddess of living a feelings-led life.)
2. Share with your family.
You’re all in this together. Share your vision for summer and ask what they want out of it. What kinds of things would they enjoy doing? How do they want to feel? You can only support each others expectations when you know what they are. They might want the same things as you, or it could be different. There’ll be more family harmony if there’s clarity from the beginning, with room for compromises and going with the flow of course.
Since I’ve confessed my passion for quietly floating in a pool or swinging in a hammock, my family go out of their way to make this happen for me and get joy out of my bliss. Now that I know my teenage son truly loves watching TV naked, I (try) to turn a blind eye to what’s going on down there.
3. Make a game plan.
This is the final, vital step. All of those great ideas will remain ideas without an Action Plan. What can you do to make the vision come true?
If you want more help around the house – set up a chores schedule and make it happen. Summer is a good time to create a fresh rewards chart. Hang up some clear, written rules so everyone knows what’s expected. It’ll save you from shouting at your kids. Just calmly refer to the rules – and follow through on the consequences. This doesn’t mean punishment – they simply don’t earn whatever you’ve agreed upon. Ice creams, screens and late bedtimes must be earned in our house. You’ll have a lot more sibling harmony if you spend some one on one time with each child too. That can mean cuddled up reading a book, playing a game, having them as your helper as you fold laundry, cook or water the garden together. Make it feel special for them to get you to themselves no matter what you’re doing.
If you work, set up some clear working hours so you can be super productive during that time, and switch off completely when that time’s up.
Now about those me time dreams… Use a few of these Ideas Into Action sheets to formulate your plan. There’s also a printable Weekly Fitness Planner which can be adapted to become your weekly ME TIME planner. Give it a go. They’ll stand a much better chance of happening if you do this!
Want to know my secret weapon for keeping the kids happily occupied so I can have a bit of time to myself each day? Click here for my Boredom Buster! (No, it doesn’t involve handing them an iPad or parking them in front of the TV.)
Don’t just read this and click off. If this resonated and you really do want to get proactive about creating your best summer yet, go to your calendar now and schedule in Step One. Remember, If it’s not scheduled, it’s not happening. It’s a small investment in time that’ll pay of this summer. You can thank me in September.
For a limited time I’m giving away the Project Me Life Wheel Tool. Grab yours now. It comes with full driving instructions so you can give it a spin straight away. Just pop your name and email into the box below. (I’ll never share your details with anyone – Girl Scouts Honor.)
The results of your wheel will give you a starting point for what steps to take next. Each week you’ll also get a Monday Motivator to help keep you on track.
In the comments below, share some key words that describe how you want to feel this summer. What would make this your best summer yet?
With practical tools to overcome overwhelm and get on top of your endless to-do’s, soon life will feel less crazy and you'll be the patient, happy mama you crave to be.
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