Simple Summer::Rhythm

With school vacation about to commence, it seems like a great time for all of us to do a little checking-in with ourselves. Are you ready to have the kids home everyday? Or, if you do the childcare-summer camp dance, are you ready to go?

Here are five keys to a Simple Summer rhythm:

Maintain much of what has been working well for your family all year, especially when it comes to mealtimes, rest times and bedtimes. If you tweak any of these for summer, later bedtimes for example, pay attention to the affect on moods, energy levels and overall health. You want those kiddos feeling their best for summer fun!

Make sure that all the summer activity is balanced by plenty of summer leisure. This really applies to the whole family- give yourselves time each day to enjoy some quiet moments together. Playing board games, working on puzzles, reading aloud, finding new hobbies…these shared leisure activities provide moments of connection that make summertime extra special.

Plan your meals. You want to enjoy summer, too, which means you don’t want to be stuck in the (hot) kitchen, figuring out what to prepare. Start the week off with a plan for each day’s meals (and snacks) and have all the ingredients on hand. Use the local veggies growing now and keep it all simple- salads of all kinds, a quick stir-fry over rice, pizza on the grill, popcorn and fresh fruit for snacks or dessert.

An outing or two will do. Summer offers so many fun and exciting adventures, and sometimes it’s hard to pass up on any of it. But remember that one of the true joys of childhood is unstructured, uninterrupted playtime. Kids don’t actually require a lot of organized educational activities; they just need time to be kids! Protect that time by registering them for only a couple of programs or camps (or just what is necessary to fit your work schedule). Keep the rest of the time wide open for their own adventures.

Be in nature together. Its fun to get outside to play and soak up the sun, but summer also affords the opportunity to really connect with the season and with nature all around us. Try to choose a time each day, or a day each week (or even each month) to tune-in to plants and animals and environments. Explore hiking trails near your home, go bird-watching in a local park, paddle a canoe, go camping in the woods- this time in nature is restorative for all of us.

And remember, if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, revisit your daily rhythm and spend some time thinking about how you wish the days were flowing. Looking at all the parts of the day brings everything into perspective. Notice where you’re actually doing okay, and where you really do need to make some changes. Go ahead and make the changes that help your family, because summertime (like childhood) is passing by so quickly.

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