The chant this morning at our house will be “School’s out for the summer!” While the end of school is bittersweet for my children as they say goodbye to beloved friends and teachers, it is also the birth of something new and awesome in the endless possibilities of summer. Just as the beginning of the school year causes me to reflect in a new-year’s resolution kind of way, so does the closing of the same.
If you are a parent, and perhaps even if you are not, you’ve long since come out of the dark winter and into the craze of spring activities. It seems to crescendo up until the very last minute of school, with recorder concerts, graduations, end of school parties, field trips and much-needed teacher appreciation gifts and events. I find myself arriving breathlessly at this time each year, and making resolutions of a different kind: not to do lists surround my summer.
Here’s what my to-don’t list looks like for the summer ahead:
- Rush the children. There is really no need to get to summer camps on time, or picnics…and certainly not the pool. In the busy-ness of our work and school lives I too often find myself nearly pushing the children out the door to the bus stop or into the minivan to get to activities on time. This summer, we will be late as often as we need. I will schedule my first work meetings for 30 minutes after I think I’ll drop them off. Kids need a time when they are completely carefree, so do adults. Summer is that time.
- Overplan. I will leave evenings without a thing to do. Anything not obligatory will not go on the calendar. We will head to the pool when we feel like it, and return home with the same calling.
- Stay inside. Air conditioning has killed our community spirit. When the days are too hot, we will find a woodsy hike or a lake to jump in. Sweat, mosquito bites and skinned knees are the makings for wonderful family memories.
- Let the time pass in the blink of an eye. Before we know it, summer will indeed have passed. I will savor the moments this summer. Watch the sunlight glimmer in my children’s eyes. Spend a lazy day on the patio with a beer and good friends laughing so hard we nearly pee. I will feel the dew on my feet on the morning lawn and stop to let it seep through me. We will climb mountains and speak to the spirit at the summit.
- Work too much. Summer is the one time when I draw firm boundaries around my work life, and guess what? My work gets better. I am more focused and less stressed when I am there, which makes me more creative and alive in the hours I am there. I should take a page from that textbook the rest of the year, but for now, my pledge is through August.
Investing into the emotional bank accounts of our children is the true business of parenting. That investment into your partner or your colleagues can reap similar benefits in other parts of our lives. Summer for me is about rediscovering my center in relationships, including my relationship with myself. A to-don’t list helps me clear the decks to make that possible.
What’s on your summer list? I’d love to hear about it.