Find your rhythm, keep your sanity
Summer. When you say this word aloud what do you notice in your body? Do you feel yourself tightening somewhere? Do you feel your breath shorten or catch? Do you feel jittery in your stomach?
Maybe you are dreading the long days with children underfoot at all hours, asking for snacks, acting bored, arguing with each other and with you, and creating messes everywhere they go.
Or, maybe you have high hopes or dreams of this summer running smoothly, of staying inspired and creative, feeling deep connection with each other, relaxing into simple days, or expanding with adventure—but you’re not quite sure how.
In this Savoring Summer blog post series I’ll share what I’ve learned through experience to help you keep your sanity, reconnect with your children after a long school year, get to your work or projects around the house, find space for your creativity and self-care, and enjoy the lazy days of summer. I’m so excited to share my favorite tips and tricks so you too can savor summer with your kids.
When you don’t have a school schedule…
At my house, summer begins with establishing a daily rhythm for the house, which is what I’m going to delve into today. A rhythm isn’t a strict schedule or routine: think of it as a container to work within that brings balance to the whole day.
To do this I think about what the kids are used to at school, when their play is most easily self-generated, when they will be hungry, where I can balance their out breaths (bigger, outside, external play and adventure) with their in breaths (quieter, inside, alone time). It feels like the waves heading in and out on the beach.
To give an example I will share what our summer rhythm is looking like one week in.
7-8am – waking up/reading in bed/quiet time
8am – breakfast
8:30 -11:30am – kids do their chores and play on their own/Mama works in her office
11:30 – 1pm – lunchtime/quiet read or play by yourself/Mama yoga & meditation
1 – 4pm – meet friends to play/work in the garden/run errands, go to the beach, etc.
4 -5pm – back home or inside for a little down time/shower or bath
5pm – start making dinner
6pm – dinner/last bit of play/game or art night
7:30pm – story time/bedtime begins
This rhythm will be posted on the refrigerator for all to see. It’s a starting place. It’s there to hold us throughout our days but it isn’t intended to be rigid and inflexible. I can revisit it at anytime if I notice that we are moving naturally to a different rhythm. The day contains moments of play, creativity, ease, nourishment, adventure, and connection for all of us.
Not just for the kids
If you look closely at my daily rhythm example you may notice that there are a few times built in for me to find alone time every day. When I know that this time is there almost every day (let’s be realistic here: sometimes this will all fall apart; more on that in a future post) for me to recharge and take care of my own needs I can relax and connect more deeply with my kids.
Instead of thinking, “I never get any time for myself” or “It’s become impossible to get to my favorite yoga class,” I know that I have time to do a home practice after I feed the kids or before breakfast. My mind is not somewhere else when I am spending time with them.
With my full presence my children tend to relax, get creative, and feel like they don’t need me after all. They may want a 15-minute book reading on the couch but then they are off again, ready to move their bodies and use their imaginations. And, I end up with more time for me again. To get something done, to work on a creative project, or to just be.
Where can you fit a few moments of alone time into your daily rhythm?
The answer to this question may depend on the age of your children or whether or not this concept is totally new to them. It may be that you start with five-minute increments of “Mommy alone time” and gradually add on. I used to set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes and announce that Mama was going to have a rest or take a break until the timer went off. My kids couldn’t believe it at first! Mamas take breaks (this was our term for a time-out) and rests (aka. naps)? Unheard of, their little faces said.
Now they know that we all can use moments of in-breaths, where we recharge, integrate, rest, and take care of ourselves.
If finding moments of alone time each day feels impossible right now, or if you want more, expand your lens to include the whole week. Where each week can you find time for yourself? Maybe you can afford a babysitter once or twice a week? Or maybe your partner or a grandparent would love a day a week with the kids. Or maybe you take a look at that week where the kids are in summer camp. The most important thing is to see it there in front of you—and, of course to use that time.
What are you waiting for?
You don’t have to wait until you get that alone time to take care of yourself. Please don’t! You can infuse self-care and creativity into your everyday life with your children—even if you can’t get time alone. That’s exactly what I’m going to be talking about in my next installment of my blog post series, Savoring Summer.
(This article is part of my Savoring Summer Series for parents. Visit jenngallucci.com for the whole series on how to find whole family health and connection through establishing your own daily rhythms, creativity, self-care, and values.
While this article was written when my kids were a few years younger it still applies today. Our rhythm has evolved to fit the needs of a working single mom’s schedule and pre-teens. We still create it together and post it on the fridge for all to see. There is so much more ease once we have created a simple structure to guide and support our days and we’re clear on how we want our days to feel.)
Hi, I’m Jenn Gallucci. I work at Willowtree Market in many capacities, including gift buying and creating the newsletters. I’m also a life coach, tarot teacher, maker of handmade goods, moon follower and mother of two. I’m currently obsessed with helping women find peace during peri-menopause.