Last summer I got so burnt out. We have three girls and my youngest was still taking naps. I would spend the morning scrambling to get myself, the kids and all the snacks, bathing suits, sand toys ready so we could try to arrive wherever we were going by the time it opened. We’d have a couple of hours out then I would have to get all the kids and stuff back in the car. I’d be in a rush to get home before the little one fell asleep in the car.
It didn’t even really matter where we went. It was exhausting. I felt like I was doing something wrong because I was so sick of it and I didn’t even think we were doing that much.
I knew I wanted this summer to be different. I wanted to focus more on spending time with friends and family, but that was out of the question. While everyone else was looking for activities and printouts and new toys to keep their kids occupied, I was doing something completely different. I was learning that our family didn’t need a schedule. We didn’t need new stuff.
We just did whatever the kids wanted to do.
I had no agenda for them. I didn’t set a strict schedule, I let them tell me what they wanted to do and supported them in their pursuits.
I practiced saying yes and being present with them. Instead of just sitting and watching them, I put on my bathing suit and got in water fights. When they wanted to go biking, I rode too. We had fun together. We did things at our own pace.
When we stopped isolating ourselves from my parents, my mom asked if the girls and I wanted to come over to swim in the lake. I immediately thought, “That would be fun but we don’t have enough time. We’ll be in a rush and I’ll be too stressed out.”
But I had a thought – I asked myself how I could make it fun for me.
I could ask my husband to make dinner. I could ask my mom if the girls could take a shower at her house. Then we wouldn’t be in a rush. I knew my mom had towels, life jackets, and snacks, so all we had to bring was our suits.
So I asked for the things I needed to make it fun for me and I said yes.
We went over that day and had so much fun we turned it into a weekly tradition. It was my favorite part of the summer and the best part of the week. It was fun and relaxing and exactly how I wanted to be spending my summer.
If I hadn’t asked myself how I could make it fun for me, I would have missed out on that.
I thought the lessons I learned this summer were that I don’t have to live up to other people’s expectations and to ask the important questions, but it’s bigger than that. It’s that how I feel matters too. It’s important to think about how to make things fun for myself too, that makes it more fun for everyone.
About the Author: Rachel is a mother of 3 little girls and is passionate about helping other moms find time to enjoy their kids by simplifying their lives. Find her at Justgettingthingsdone.com