Episode 189: Creating a Summer Rhythm
Welcome back to Live Free Creative podcast. I’m your host Miranda Anderson and you’re listening to episode number 189 Summer Rhythm.
Are you feeling those summer feelings? It is just a few weeks from the end of school for us. I don’t know why here in Virginia, especially this year, we’re getting out super late. I still am looking forward to creating space in my brain to sort of process what the summer is going to look like this year, the kids will be home. The weather will be beautiful. And one of my challenges every year is coming up with what our summer rhythm is going to feel like.
I mean, there’s no secrets here. If you’ve been listening to the show for a while, you know that I am a planner. I love getting things down on paper. I love looking at when I’m going to get which things done with what amount of time and resources. Wow. I really do love having a plan. I think part of the benefit for me is that when I have a plan or a rhythm, it frees me to have some spontaneity.
When I know that the things that matter a lot, have a space to be accomplished and to get done, that leaves all this open space for “what if”, and “if we feel like it” and “let’s go”. There’s something sort of paradoxical about the invisible structure, lending your life this incredible amount of freedom that I think a lot of people forget about.
Finding your Rhythm
In today’s episode, I want to share some ideas for creating a summer rhythm. I’m not talking about a stringent schedule or some particular set of plans, I want to help you think through what you want the rhythm of your summer to feel like. And as you do that, it will help you also identify where there is space for pauses, for free time, and for that super relaxation. Maybe some of that is built into your rhythm, whether you choose to have a sort of, high, fast, intense, thrilling rhythm to your summer; or whether it’s kind of a slow, lazy, lovely downtime-filled summer.
Having some sort of an idea of what you want it to look and feel like and making plans. As I talked about that invisible structure enables you to get closer to experiencing what you hope for. Even if you don’t consider yourself a big planner, the research shows that our brains love predictability. Especially if you happen to be a mom or a caretaker of kids, whether they’re little tiny kids or tweens or teens. Kids love having a predictable plan, they love knowing what comes next. And so, as you listen to this episode, I hope that it gives you some ideas for creating a summer rhythm that will help both you and your family feel at ease and able to experience the best summer ever.
Segment: Magical Adventure Moment
Before I dive into the specifics, I want to share a quick, magical adventure moment:
I must’ve been about 12 or 13 because I remember my mom dropped me off at the front of the Sports Mall and I ran in to meet my friends at the bar. I wasn’t old enough to drive, but I was old enough to spend an afternoon laying in the sun with my girlfriends. I was familiar with the Sports Mall because I had grown up taking tennis lessons and going to swim team practice in the building. And so, I knew how to go change really quickly in the locker room, head straight out, locate the best lounge chair (the one that was facing directly into the beating sun, nearby the snack shack in the corner where we had the whole view of the pool in front of us).
We flapped out our towels and laid them on top of these lounge chairs, and slathered on a mixture of banana boat, sunscreen, and baby oil until our skin was glistening in the sunshine, laid down, stretched out, and felt the sun warming our bodies. I can still see the blue of the sky through my squinted eyes as I gazed up, trying to avoid looking directly at the sun, but almost being unable to avoid the shininess. It was quiet except for the pitter-patter of tennis balls, hitting the court, and sneakers squeaking across as people were hitting. I think an old man was running on the track nearby, just jogging slowly. I think he had a Walkman.
I can close my eyes and feel myself there lying beside the pool feeling so grown up a little bit “drunk” on the freedom of growing older, on the sunshine, and having a whole day stretched out in front of me with no plans, except to hang with my friends, swim in the pool, and order a Sprite from the snack shack. I can still smell the mixture of chlorine and sunscreen and sweat and that rubber of a new tennis ball and a little bit of wet grass. I can remember the cold shock of diving into the water after letting my skin bake in the sunshine. Our favorite game was to do hands up-stands up inside the pool, seeing who could hold our breath the longest and keep our toes pointed the pointiest.
As we did handstands in the shallow end of the pool, I remember learning how I could hold my breath and kick myself over backward and then just continue rotating my arms, like little eggbeaters, so that my body would spin back and back and back doing flip over, flip over, flip over underneath the surface of the water. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride underneath the surface of this.
I can taste the cold sweet fizz of soda pop and imagine the giggles of my friends as we admired the lifeguards on duty, there’s something so magical about the simplicity of a summer day as a kid. These are the easy memories that I hope to pass along to my own.
I want you to take a look back at your own childhood summers and think about what feels like summer to you. Take a second and just list in your mind, or if you happen to have a pen and a paper nearby, make an actual list of summertime feelings. What are the activities? The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of summer.
I wrote a couple down as I was brainstorming for this episode; I’m going to share my list. Some of these might feel like summer to you too. Some of them might feel so foreign you’re like “that’s not a summertime thing for me”. Think about your own summertime feelings as I read mine: sunshine, hiking, sleeping in night games on the block, going to the pool, popsicles, road trips, readathons, gardening, summer camp, camping, smores over a campfire, making and drinking lemonade, sidewalk shock, and Slurpees. There’s just a quick list of a few of my summertime feels.
What are yours? I’m curious where our lists intersect and where they diverge. In this episode, I want to just help you think about and get prepared for creating some type of a wonderful, lovely, sustainable summer rhythm.
School Year vs Summertime
It’s so interesting how much of our lives are governed by these seasons? Summertime in the Northern hemisphere means warmer weather, usually means that your kids, if you have kids, that kids in general in the neighborhood are let out of school for a couple months in a row. As a child, myself, of course, I thought about my world and my life in terms of “school year” and “summertime”.
And then I got married and we continued going to school, so my life was still governed by the idea of the school year and the summertime. Then we had children. By the time Dave graduated from school, we had two kids who had then started preschool. So, our life still was governed by the idea of the school year and the summertime.
Now with all three of my kids in school, in elementary school and middle school, the way I think about how we’re spending our time and the rhythm of our days is determined by the school year and the summertime. The school year lends itself to a natural rhythm because there are transitions that are expected waking up and going to school. That school bell is one set moment of our day and then fast forward to the end of the school day, that’s another. We pick them up and then we move on with, you know, the last half of the evening.
In the summertime, those natural starts and stops can become erased. If you’re used to basing a lot of your schedule around some natural transition times of going to and coming home from school. That can be preschool or even daycare and if you have very young kids, it’s a similar thing with nap schedules that the natural rhythm of the day is built on. Well, once you have kids going to school, or if you yourself are going to school or even just friends and family, people around you are governed by the rhythm of the school year.
It can be such a relief to have to let go of that. In fact, in the last couple of weeks, I am having a harder time of waking up in the morning. I think, maybe I’m going to bed a tiny bit later than usual, or I’m just indulging in reading a little bit later. But I’m loving the idea that, in a few weeks when school is out, if I don’t want to get up at six o’clock, I don’t have to. We can stay in bed for a little bit of extra time.
Intentional Summer Rhythm
There’s something kind of lovely about the release of the rhythm of a school year. It feels like wide open space to head into the summer, coming up in the next couple of weeks where the world is our oyster, and we get to choose how we spend our days. At the same time, are there any of you who feel absolutely terrified by not having that rhythm that you feel like your life will descend into a chaotic abyss if you don’t have the rhythm guiding your days?
I feel a little bit on both sides of that equation. There’s something beautiful about the freedom of not having anywhere to be or anything to do, and at the same time; what if there are things that we want to do? and how do we create some sort of a structure where there isn’t any? That’s what I’m hoping to share and achieve with this episode is to help you think through how to plan a for yourself, an intentional summer rhythm, that doesn’t feel like a stringent schedule.
It doesn’t feel like a technical planning every hour of every day. You don’t want to create so much structure and planning that then you are beating your head against it. And there’s something really nice about having. These gentle waves of structure that are guiding you through what you hope your summertime will feel like anyway, that’s what I’m planning on doing.
And I’m going to share some of that with you today. When I asked you to think about some of your summertime feels, what are the activities and the tastes and the sights and the smells that feel like summer to you? I want to invite you at some point to actually write those down, you know that I love to write things down on paper.
So, I invite you to pull out a sheet of paper at some point, if you’re driving or walking or something, don’t do it right now. But tune back into this episode, when you have a writing instrument available so that you can do a little bit of actual strategic scheduling or rhythm building. In a place that you’ll be able to remember it a little bit more solidly.
I first want to talk about the actual structure that is going to be embedded into the summer months. Before I dive into this, I actually wanted to mention a product that I have used before that I think is so smart. It’s by the Essential Calendar, I will link to this in the show notes. The Essential Calendar has a summertime calendar that is one big page where you have your May, June, July, August, all on one big sheet that you can find a spot for in your home and see the whole summer in front of you at once.
That can feel really helpful to just have it visually there you can mark it. When you’re out of town, when you’re in town, when people have camps and lessons and all of those things in one visible space, I know that visibility is helpful for me as a parent, it’s helpful for my kids. It helps keep us all on the same page. So, I will make sure that I linked to the summertime calendar right there in the show notes. You also, of course, could build one of these yourself. I’ve seen some smart calendars made out of post-it notes. Design Mom did that and shared it in her book. If you have an artistic child, you could just grab a poster board and let one of your children or you build your summer calendar.
I just want to invite rather than advise. I’d like to invite you to consider the idea that when you have your calendar visible, it’s easier to feel on track with the days. I mean, there’s something so lovely about being in the middle of the summer and looking around and realizing you have no idea what day it is.
That’s a feeling that I yearn for and I also want to, you know, make sure that I’m buying groceries at least once a week and not like missing camps and lessons because I’m so clueless. So, a visible calendar can be helpful once you have a visible calendar. And maybe that’s just on a note page, maybe it’s up on. Maybe it’s on your computer. Maybe you’re a digital head, a techie head, and you like doing that.
I want you to first put in the things that are already planned. Do you have trips already planned? Do you have vacations? Do you have camps for your kids or for yourself? Are you coming to grown-up summer camp in July? Those things that are already fixed? Find a place right on your calendar so that you’re aware of them and so that you can build around them.
Grown-Up Summer Camp
While I’m on the subject. I’m just going to plug Grown-up Summer Camp really quick. I think by the time this airs there will maybe still be a few spots left. This is your chance as an adult woman to come have a three-day summer camp adventure. Maybe you did it as a kid and you canoed and you lived in a camp cabin and you learned to make friendship, bracelets, and you had so much fun, and you miss that experience, and you want to come feel it again.
Or maybe you missed out on that, and you never had a summer camp experience as a kid. This is your chance. I created grown-up summer camp to help adult women, grown-up women, connect to themselves, their inner child. That place of just having fun for fun sake, you get to meet a group of incredible women.
There are women coming from all over the country. We’re going to have some craft projects. You’ll learn a couple new craft skills. We’re going to sing campfire songs. We’re going to have incredible food. I have a yoga and meditation teacher coming to do daily mindful movement. We’re going to float down the river Craig’s Creek. There’s a zip-line, if you want to do a zip line and get that adrenaline going. We’re going to do a sunrise hike.
The whole experience is going to leave you feeling renewed, rejuvenated, and reconnected. And I can’t overemphasize how much fun it’s going to be. It’s July 14th through 17th in New Castle, Virginia, the link is livefreecreative.co/summer-camp.
So, check it out. There are a couple of rooms that are available for two or three, so you could come with a friend, or you can grab a couple of friends and like book a whole room together. Or you can come on your own and I will pair you with a roommate and you’ll have so much fun getting to know someone new.
Renewal and Replenishment
Grown-up summer camp for yourself, or tennis camp for your child, a family reunion in California. Those are the types of things that you want to first put on your summer calendar as your structure. Like those are things that are immovable they’re there.
Next, I want you to think about yourself as a mom, as a caretaker. What time and space have you provided in the summertime for yourself to feel like yourself? This looks like childcare, whether it’s hiring a babysitter once a week for a couple of hours, whether it’s hiring a nanny, whether it is simply asking your partner for which would be the most convenient evenings for you to take some time when he or she is home from work.
I want you to make sure that in the rhythm of your summertime, you are considering your own needs for renewal and replenishment as a human person, not just a human caregiver, but a human person. Make sure that it’s not something that you’re looking for at the last minute or thinking, “gosh, I’m so burned out now because I’m used to the kids being in school for six hours a day, and now they’re all home all the time, and I don’t have any of that space that I had during the school year”.
Think about this now and create some space. Now, maybe this looks like a trade with one of your friends. You have similar aged kids, and you say, “Hey, could we do like a Tuesday, Thursday where my kid comes and hangs out at your house for a couple hours Tuesday afternoons, and then you send yours over to my house for a couple of hours Thursday afternoons. So, we both build in some space for ourselves”. I want you to think about and consider your own needs within the rhythm of your summer.
Consider the Days
Once you have your structure, your fixed things put in there, your commitments and you’ve planned for some childcare, think about the rhythm of how you want that to feel. Then I want you to consider the days, think about your day.
What do you want the morning to feel like during your summer, do you want to get up and go type of morning where you wake up and you go on a run, and you take the dogs on a walk?
You have a breakfast with your kids, and then you all go out the door for a hike or to visit the library?
Maybe your kids are early birds, and they get up anyway, so, you want to capitalize on that while the weather is nice and you all get up together and you go do something fun in the morning when the crowds are low and you can just, you know, really take advantage of that morning energy?
And then you’re going to come back around lunchtime and have a slower closer to home afternoon. Does that sound like the rhythm that you want?
Or maybe your family is a little more like mine now that my kids are older, and they are going to sleep in a little bit. So, the summertime morning might look like slow staggered wake-up times. Maybe breakfast happens on their own throughout the morning. Maybe you stick to your own personal morning routine, and you let your kids wake up and get ready around you while you’re doing the things you need to do.
Maybe your kids will be like mine, they’ll have a list of activities and chores that are expected to happen before any type of screen time or outside play time. What this has looked like the last few years in my home is that each day my kids have an hour of reading, and they have one or two small chores that rotate based on the day of the week. And they have a walk a morning walk that they need to do, it could be a walk, a scooter ride or a bike ride, but at least a half hour spent outside in the morning.
And then of course, breakfast making their beds and getting dressed. Those activities usually bring us to around one. So, if my kids aren’t getting out of bed until eight or eight 30, and then they’re doing their reading and having breakfast and going on a walk and getting their chores done, their chores might look like making their bed and putting their clothes away. Maybe one day it’s helping me weed a section of the garden, maybe one day it’s taking care of taking the kitty litter bag out to the, to the street. Those things usually bring us to around lunchtime.
So, the rhythm of our morning is sort of accomplishing the close to home things. And getting some connection to self and to nature and spending some time outside and doing some of those, what feel like essentials for me.
And then after lunch, that’s when they’re able to be set free either with friends or to play video games for a couple hours or the afternoons. This is when we tend to, in my house, go and do our activities. So that would be visiting the library, going on a hike, maybe we’re going to the river to go kayaking.
We have a slower morning rhythm and tend to go and do our activities, the bigger activities in the afternoon. I like to build my summer rhythm around some of the natural breaks in our day. That tends to be mealtimes.
So what’s happening around before and just after breakfast time. And then there’s sort of this, this natural section of the day between breakfast and lunch, what does that look like? And then lunchtime is around the same time every day, whether that’s at home, or we drive through and pick something up or whether it’s a picnic or something that we take with us.
That lunchtime creates a natural break, a halfway point in our day. Then what does my afternoon look like between lunch and dinner? Dinner tends to happen around the same time every day. That’s when Dave is finished with work. So, he’s home and we’re able to do dinner altogether around the table, or we love eating outside during the summer.
So oftentimes it’s around the patio table. And then, because it stays light so much later, if we’re having dinner around six, we’ve still got a good two to three hours before summertime bedtime. This usually is the time that my kids are going to go and play with their friends on the block. This is when they play night games. This is when we’ll turn on the fire pit and invite people over to roast marshmallows and maybe watch an outdoor movie. Our evenings tend to be slow, but also social. So, that is a little bit of what it looks like to plan your day to think about the natural breaks in your day.
If you want to assign some sort of flexible outline to what those sections of the day look like. I mentioned a couple of different options, but just to make little more clear,
What do you want your morning to feel like?
What does that look like?
What is the timeframe around it from wake up until breakfast and then from breakfast until lunch, does that feel like a get up and go time considering your needs and your kids’ needs and your natural rhythms?
What time your kids get up and how you feel the energy levels at your home in the morning? Or does it feel like a slow, a slow roll into the day? Like it will be at my house.
And then what happens between your natural break for lunch and dinner? A lot of families use this after lunchtime as a quiet time.
Especially if you have a napper at home or you have been going out and doing in the morning, then this afternoon tends to be when you’re going to do your reading time. That’s when your kids will be in their rooms, playing quietly for a couple hours. When mom gets a little downtime, you get to choose.
I will recommend that you think about this ahead of time and that you write down some basic ideas of this general flexible rhythm so that you don’t wake up every day and think “I have no idea what’s going to happen today. I have no idea when or how we’re going to get the things that we’d like to accomplish accomplished. I just feel like I lost all control”.
Allow yourself to make some of these decisions, knowing that you have the flexibility of changing your mind, but that if you’ve made a decision and created this sort of slow, lovely moving rhythm to your days and your weeks during the summertime, that you’re more likely to have the experiences that you hope.
So, let’s talk about some of those bucket list things. I think around this time of year, we see a lot of ideas for your summer bucket list, for the best summer ever. Here’s all the things that you should do, and there’s like 59 ideas of activities that you could, and maybe “should” do with your family.
I love how innovative and creative people are with the advice that they share. I love looking at those lists and thinking, gosh, that’s a fun idea. I like that one. And also, I really love looking at those lists and thinking, nope, that one’s not for me. Oh no. I would never do that. I’m not interested in the least. It gives me hives even think about it. I want you to acknowledge that those bucket lists you see out there floating around the internet are take it or leave it. It’s not one size fits all. And I want to encourage you to think about the activities that you’d like to have the memories that you’d like to make with your own family.
I like to think about the possible daily activities that are going to be available regularly for my kids. So, if we’re kind of doing our slow morning and then our afternoon, it’s going to be like our go out and do activities time. What are some of the activities that I want to make available for?
Of course, if we’re going altogether to the zoo or like on a hike or a faraway bike ride, those are things that we’ll actually put on the calendar at the beginning of each week. We’ll kind of plan what this week looks like and lock in some of those specifics, but on just a regular afternoon, I want to be able to say to my family, “here’s all your options, choose what sounds fun”.
It might be pulling out a Kiwi Crate and doing a craft from the Kiwi Crate, it might be going on a bike ride or swinging on the swing in our backyard. We live close enough to a 7/11. We have a 7/11 about, I’m going to say like six or seven blocks away. My kids can walk there on their own or ride their scooters. So, they could walk over with a friend and grab a Slurpee.
We have lots of pool days planned this summer. I’m hoping to spend at least two or three days a week afternoon at the pool, just planted there. Our pool has a diving board and a slide and a snack bar. Tennis courts and other things going on, just like my magical adventure moment. I hope that my kids form some of these like independent, emerging pool, summertime memories, that just feel so, so precious to me.
We have sidewalk chalk. We have a garden that they can plant in. So those are like our regular activities. And I’m just going to have a list of these.
“You think you’re bored?
Here are some ideas:
do a craft
go on a bike ride
swing on the swing
walk to 7-11
walk over to the playground
ask a friend to do sidewalk chalk with you
build a fort in the living room
Just give some ideas, and this may be a good idea to do as a family activity one night around dinner. Pull out some note cards and say, “Hey, let’s all brainstorm some summertime boredom buster activities” and get the input from your family about what some of these go-to activities could be, so that they have helped create the list of possibilities.
Family Bucket List
Along with that. I also like to plan some of these special, little bit bigger activities. These are usually what that the bucket list looks like. Some of the ones that are on my personal list this year are to go fruit picking, we love picking strawberries. I already made an appointment with a lavender farm to go cut lavender one day in June. And peaches, when peaches are in season this summer. We’re so lucky that we live in a state that just is like, bursting with fruit. So, there is a Berry picking season and there is very much a peach picking season. And then we move into fall and there’s apples and pumpkins. And it’s almost like any time of year there’s something out there locally that we could go pick.
So that’s one of my favorite summertime activities. I’m going to be totally transparent that my kids don’t love it that much, but because I love it so much, they hear me, and they come along and the farms that we go to always have ice cream or a strawberry sundae or something in addition, that feels like extra motivation for them to come humor me. Then I like to take the fruit home and make jam or can. That’s not something that my kids totally love, but it’s something that I love to do. And so, I try to build it into my summer.
We live so close to the James River and we love spending time near and on the river. So, I’m going to make sure that we borrow kayaks. We have a good friend that lends us kayaks. If we didn’t, we would rent them. Taking a day or a couple of days this summer to plan to go kayaking and spend some time out on the river is really fun. So, I’ve got that in my special activities.
Doing outdoor movies, we have some friends that have the whole setup for outdoor movies, and we also can do it at our house on a small scale with just like the computer set up outside. So that’s something that takes a little bit of extra work, so I want to plan it at least a couple of days in advance. I don’t want to just like spring it on. Like, “oh, let’s get everything together to plan an outdoor movie for right now”. That’s more of a special activity.
We love going to the national park. The closest one for us is Shenandoah and it’s about an hour and a half away. So, it’s not like when we lived in Utah and we were, you know, just like so close to so many different opportunities for hiking in the national park. That’s a more special activity that we can plan kind of a day trip to go out and hike. In Shenandoah, there’s some really cool waterfall hikes that aren’t in the national park that are nearby. We like going on a hike at Pocahontas state park that’s around the lake. We do that fairly often. Again, it’s not something that I probably would like wake up and say, oh, let’s drive 30 minutes and go on a two hour hike. You know, I want to plan it a little bit.
So at this point, when our summer hasn’t yet begun, I am writing myself a personalized list of ideas. Of things that sound fun and not a bucket list in the way we think that if we don’t check them all off we fail summer. I like to think of it as like a bucket of possibilities. It’s a whole list of ideas, of what sounds fun. And if I brainstorm it all at once ahead of time, then I set myself up for success at different points in the summer. If we’re just looking at the weekly schedule and thinking. We don’t have like anything super fun to look forward to, maybe we want to add something sort of special and we can add that in and experience something that is a little bit out of the ordinary.
Last year, I did an episode called Summer Planters and Plans. It’s episode number 149. In that episode, I referenced the idea of thrills, fills, and spills, which is like a summer plan formula that is well-known in gardening. I want to invite you to go listen to that episode and think about it in terms of your summer rhythm.
What is your baseline? Your fills, those everyday things that you want to guide you through the summer.
What are the spills? Those are the low maintenance, low-hanging fruit activities.
And then your thrills, there’s maybe only a couple of those in the summer. That would be like a big camping trip or a road trip, or a visit to a local park. That’s really special. You can have one or two thrills in the whole summer, and there’ll be really memorable because they’re separate because they’re different.
I like to think about our summer in terms of a baseline rhythm that sort of helps us churn along and feel like we know what comes next. And then to add in those pops of excitement and of unexpected. And I have a recent episode that I’ve done about whimsy, this idea of adding something totally out of the ordinary, just for fun. But that doesn’t have to be what you’re doing all summer long.
You don’t have to run yourself ragged with every single day, having a big, fun activity and something different and woke kids. You know, you’re not on call for like full-time entertainment. And I think when we get overwhelmed by the idea of the summertime and not having a plan and not having a system or a rhythm that guides our decisions, that’s when it feels chaotic and stressful.
My hope is that, just meandering through my process with you of thinking through what is already planned, making sure that I have childcare set aside for at least a couple days a week, and then having that baseline of:
what does it feel like in the mornings?
What does it feel like in the afternoons?
What is the feel like in the evenings?
Having that gentle rolling schedule that is flexible and adaptable, and yet doesn’t leave us all wondering what is happening at all times. We want to know when we can plan something exciting, and when we want to leave space for just hanging out. There is just this quote from the American pediatric association that says:
“Children do best when routines are regular, predictable and consistent”
That’s something that we can struggle with in the summer when we don’t have the school system to sort of create that regular, predictable, consistent schedule for us. I want to invite you to consider how you can create a baseline rhythm for your summer that feels good to you. Don’t create a rhythm that is so fast that you can’t keep up. And likewise, if you’re a go getter, don’t feed a rhythm that feels so slow, that you’re feeling constantly a little bit anxious that there isn’t anything going on. Find that sweet spot for you and for your kids. You’re able to do a little bit of both.
There is downtime and you can relax during the downtime, knowing that there’s also going to be activities. It’s not activity, after activity, after activity, and it’s not nothing happening any time. Be bored all summer long. Find a balance that feels right for you. Find a system that feels like it matches, not only what you feel you’re capable of as a family and as an individual, but also what your hopes are.
Align your idea of “what do I want my summer to feel like?” with what you write down on paper for “how to help it feel that way?”
Special Summer Minimal Meal Plan
I just want to mention, as I wrap up this episode, something. I talk about a lot. I know, but it really is life-changing especially in the summertime. Something that is so helpful for me is having a minimal meal plan that is consistent and predictable during the school year. I just plan breakfasts and dinners because my kids eat lunch at school during the summer. I like to plan breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner and just put it on repeat. The way I like to do this is identifying the meals themselves. Like Monday, we have cereal, Tuesday, we have eggs and toast. Wednesday, we have muffins. Thursday, we have a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. Whatever it is, and actually writing those on a menu and putting it on the fridge.
I do the same thing for lunch and for dinner and for snacks. I know, but it’s easier for my brain to just say it’s Thursday, your snack is an apple and Nutella. I’ll get that all out, or you can get it out for yourself. It just eliminates so much of the decision fatigue for me and for my kids. And it helps me when I’m buying groceries to know what exactly we’re going to be using so that it’s available for, for my kids.
Another way that I’ve done this in the past, that is also great, is to just have a baseline menu of choices. So, for lunch, there’s these three options and the ingredients for all of them are available and you choose what you want. And either I make it for you, or you can make it for yourself. I will say that as my kids are getting older, it’s so nice to have the menu like up on the fridge and then they can follow it themselves.
Like they look at it and say, oh, it’s, you know a Turkey sandwich day and they go get the bread and the Turkey and the Mayo and whatever, and they make themselves a sandwich and like, that’s it. Having the decision made and the groceries in the house is like the very first step to creating ease around your meal time. I’ve done a lot of episodes about this. I will link to the minimum, like the very basic minimum meal plan episode in the show notes. So, you can check that out if you want a reminder about what that looks like in and kind of how that works. And I think that this is kind of a wrap up.
I want you to think about: What you want your summer to feel like, and actually write down what is already planned. Do you want to plan something that isn’t on the calendar yet? Do you want to sign your kids up for a camp and you haven’t done it yet? Do you want to go on a weekend vacation, and you haven’t scheduled it yet?
Now is a great time to look ahead the next few months and say, I can make whatever I want of this summer. What do I want, what do I want it to feel like? What do I want to accomplish? How do I want it to?
Go like, eh, do I want it to be slow? Do I want it to be fast and furious? What do I want, how do I create that? And then to plan it out, give yourself a rhythm. Give yourself a little bit of structure.
My Summer Lottery: Screen Time Guidelines
I mentioned briefly, but I think one of the keys for me, again, we just an episode about this teens in tech last week. If I can have some sort of a baseline guideline around screen time for my kids, then it feels like I won the summer lottery. If I have a rhythm that feels acceptable to everyone where it’s really clear how my kids earn their screen time and how much they get and all of those sorts of things, then I’m so much more able to function in all of the other areas of our life.
So, I briefly mentioned, but I’ll just clarify, in case you’re curious. During the school year, my kids don’t use screens at all. Monday through Thursday, we have a no screen week. The weekends are when they have a couple hours a day of screen time. During the summer, I do help them earn some video game, screen time. When they wake up, they know that they can do their reading, do their outside act, go on a walk or a bike ride for a half hour. They have a chore each day. I want them to have breakfast and be dressed and that gets us to lunchtime. After lunch, if they have accomplished all of the things on their list, they’re unlocking of their afternoon screen time.
Then they get an hour of screens in the afternoon, and they can earn more time. Or if we’re like going on a big hike or something, then it may be later that they have it. It’s just easy for me and you can do it totally differently. I mean, this is just what has worked for me to know that the connections that I hope happen every day happen before the screens. They’re going outside, they’re spending time reading and, getting dressed and eating and taking care of their bodies and being out in the sunshine. Those things happen before we open up the possibility of screen time in the afternoon. They have so much fun.
We also have a couple of days a week that we have other things planned where we go to the pool and things like that. That is how we have managed it. And I won’t say that it’s like a perfect system and that there’s never any problems because of course, like most kids, my kids would love to spend all day playing video games and watching TV shows. You know, conditioned and the technology is built in a way that it’s just sucks them in and they want to spend all of their time doing that. I don’t mind them spending time playing video games and watching shows.
I do want them to do it in combination with other things that also can be enriching in their lives, other ways of connecting to themselves, into nature and to each other. So that’s kind of the way that we handle it. It goes, okay. I mean, once in a while, there’s a little battle here or there, and I think the most important piece of it, and this goes for any type of rhythm that you’re creating the most important piece is that it’s predictable and consistent.
If I can stick with the predictability and the consistency, then they know what’s going on. It becomes less of a battle and more of a choice. They know what needs to happen and they get to choose whether or not they want to follow through with their piece of it. And I’ll tell you that, most of the time they do and then it’s pretty easy.
I hope that this episode has been helpful in just inviting you to think through the rhythm of your summer. What do you want it to feel like, what do you want it to look like? What does that look like when you translate it onto paper, onto an actual calendar? Are you leaving space for fun? Are you leaving space for boredom? Are you filling it up to completion nd you already feel stressed out looking at it because you’re racing from here to there? Or do you feel a little bit like, maybe I need to think of some activities that we could do because the summer is looking pretty empty.
It’s okay for it to be however you want it to be. There’s no right or wrong way to experience the summertime. The most important piece is that you take a moment to consider what you desire, what you want and what your family wants and needs. Create that with intention, the way that you build this structure, this rhythm and this plan. So, take a couple minutes with a sheet of paper, whether it’s a big calendar or just a note card and answer those questions that I posed at the beginning.
What do you want your summer to look like and feel like what feels like summer to you, and then take a little bit of inventory of what is the reality? Are your kids early risers? Are they sleeper ins? How do you want your mornings to feel? How do you want your afternoons to feel, and then build in this sort of invisible, flexible structure that allows the days of your summer to roll like waves in a predictable, lovely, relaxing, and exciting pattern?
Thank you so much for tuning in and listening to the show. We have the best listeners around. I really appreciate you lending me some of your attention. I hope that you feel like you’re gaining some understanding and having some new insights and living a little bit more on purpose because of listening to the show.
I want to share a recent review of the podcast as a thank you. This is from Krista Dimmick. She says “The only podcast I immediately click on. I’ve read Miranda’s book and now I’m catching up on all of her episodes of her podcast. I believe she has just the right formula of insight and practical advice that keeps me positive in my outlook on life. Her topics bridge a lot of subjects that are interwoven into creating motivation and choosing a deliberate lifestyle of joy as she maintains a humble and personal approach to communicating it. Thank you for this bright spot in my learning and living.”
Thank you so much for such a lovely review. Krista, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I would love to pop a thank you gift in the mail for you and for your review.
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