Summer in an office environment doesn’t exactly sizzle. My alarm still goes off at 5:30 am, and the closest thing I get to a tan is the reflection of the fluorescent lights off my computer screen. I wear blue light glasses, not aviators. Flip flops are literally against dress code.
All glow-envy of my poolside friends, aside though, what I’m really missing from summer is the “slow down.” Instead, it feels as though we’re constantly racing from one activity to another – squeezing every last drop of summer into as many after hours moments as possible.
Our oldest is now 8, and the challenge of juggling full-time work at the office with his busy summer schedule is on. We added baseball games, swimming lessons, camps and more into our already full daily routine. I’m learning that planning is everything when trying to squeeze a day’s worth of fun into the 5 post-office hours of summer sunlight, and truth be told, planning is not my forte.
I’m great at the big picture.
I love a dream and a goal.
But sticking to what’s on the paper in front of me? Insert dramatic teenage eye roll.
I get easily distracted by things that feel immediately important, and I continually have to pull myself back on track to avoid showing up not-so-fashionably late. It’s hard not to reach for that “one more thing” to cross off the list when the list feels so long.
I’m learning though, and as any good teacher would tell you, learning is sometimes all we can ask for.
Now a month into this season, here are the five tips helping me survive the chaos:
- Pack all the bags. Good lord, are we packing bags. I pack them nightly, because if we happen to last-minute need a swimming bag, a sunscreen bag, a diaper bag, an “extra clothes” bag, a baseball bag, a work-to-game bag – or some days, most importantly, a makeup bag – I want it all within reach. Clothes and towels get washed and put right back in, then each has a spot on the coat rack by the door.
- Choose the little wins. We’ll tackle vacation later this summer, which will be a big check off the summer bucket list. The other day, though, we simply walked to the park and had a picnic. It took all of about 90 minutes, and the kids thought it was the best thing ever. Little wins add up and have that same ability to create memorable moments. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for these opportunities more and more.
- Know where home is. When life gets crazy, I purposely make a spot in the schedule for home time. Porch time. Chill time. Early bedtimes. As I see the littles getting worn out, I find I’m more inclined to fight for their chance to rest. With later nights happening more often, I’m also allowing myself the time to rest when they do on the weekends.
- Identify the “musts.” I selfishly love a clean house with candles lit and Seriously Sinatra in the background. Right now, I don’t have any idea where the bottom of my sink is. Six loads of unfolded clean laundry is piled on the bathroom floor. Toys are sprawled across every room. I have seen this episode of The Loud House at least 10 times. We have eaten frozen pizza for dinner once a week for over a month. But the bills are paid, the children are clean and the “musts” are covered. For now, sometimes that has to be enough.
- Practice gratitude. Fortunately, my family (husband included!) is absolutely amazing about helping carry the load of car pool necessities while I’m at the office. Whether 1 pm Monday baseball practice or 9 am swimming lessons, someone always makes time. As a result, I’m overextending thank yous, writing notes and trying hard to find unique ways to show everyone how truly grateful I am. It does take a village, and payment in cookies and hugs never hurts.
With so many moving pieces at work and home, sometimes the overwhelm comes on strong. Sometimes, I don’t lean into the present moment because I’m so busy trying not to be busy. Sometimes, the shame that comes with needing all of these people to make it float can be a hard pill to swallow.
Then sometimes, after a long day at work, I happen to grab the right bag at the right time and just like that – it’s summer.