For a parent of a child who requires a bit more work, the school year can be overwhelming. It can leave you feeling defeated and deflated.
Summer is a holy word.
There are no 504 or IEP meetings during the summer. There is no advocating or keeping up during the summer. During the summer, if we plan it right, we can catch our breath. Here are four tiny tips to get you there.
A good summer begins with intention. What is a word or phrase that you want to use to define your summer? Will it be fun? Relaxing? Life-giving? Restorative? Brave? What are your family’s words? They might surprise you.
A discussion about these words could be a wonderful activity to do together outside in the sunshine during the first few days of summer. Maybe around the firepit with a plate of s’mores fixings. Or maybe while enjoying that first, sweet slice of watermelon.
How can you work together with your family to make all of your intentions a reality? Will it be helpful to make a small poster of intentions? Would it be meaningful to place this poster on the fridge or in another prominent place?
This is a beautiful way to begin your summer with your family — a simple celebration of hope while enjoying each other’s company.
Maybe it’s the sunshine. Maybe it’s the unrestricted schedule. Whatever it is, one of the most meaningful gifts that summer bears is that time seems to slow down a bit. We are more available for each other. This is the time to connect with one another.
Develop rituals for family connection during this season. Take a morning walk with your partner while your children are still asleep. Take each of your children out for a day of fun and one-on-one time. (So often, the guilt of time-distribution can weigh us down. Even though it need not.) Make a light dinner together and spend a long time enjoying it and each other outside until the stars come out. Visit the library to choose a book chock full of adventure that you can read aloud to your child every night until they just can’t keep their eyes open any more. Visit a family member who lives far away. Host a sleepover in your living room or backyard just for your family. Write a letter to a childhood friend, by hand. Invite your neighbors over for a cookout; even if you have only ever waved at them while taking the trash out.
Let summer fill you with sunshine and memories. Let summer allow you to grow your roots. Let summer give you the gift of connectedness.
Let go of trying to keep up with a schedule. Let go of trying to keep up with school work. Let go of trying to keep up with social media. Let go of expectations.
The best summers unfold in an unhurried way. They implore us to press pause. They beg us to slow down. If we yield? If we let go? If we allow ourselves to fully be present, then we will truly experience a blissful season.
Here is a helpful little list to help you let go:
-Do NOT make a bucket list.
-Do NOT visit social media every day.
-Do NOT try to cram all the activities into these all-too-short-months.
-Do NOT say YES to something that feels like too much.
-DO create healthy rituals that feed your soul.
-DO help your family find healthy rituals that feed their souls.
-DO spend time in the sunshine.
-DO wear your swimsuit and JUMP into the pool.
-DO savor quiet moments to yourself.
-DO take pictures that are just for remembering, and not for sharing.
-DO pause and reflect. Often.
Savor this season. Here’s an idea:
Plant a garden that you tend to daily. Spend so much time in it that the soil takes a lot of soap and scrubbing to wash off. Nourish your garden until it does the same for you. Bring in the mint and cucumbers in July. Add them to a jug of ice cold water filled with sliced lemons. Sip it slowly, outside while the sunshine paints freckles on your nose.
And last, but not least:
When you give your child a bath, make sure that at least once a week the water is dirty afterward. Make sure that it’s so dirty that it will require at least a good twenty minutes to scrub down the tub afterward.
A dirty bath is the sign of a good summer day.