The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short ~ Gretchen Ruben
I love this quote and find it to be so true about life, and especially about parenting. The days, especially with young children, can seem unbearably long, but talk to any parent with older or grown kids and they will tell you they cannot believe how fast the years flew by. With summer approaching, I am thinking about this quote today. Remember, we only really have about 18 summers with our children. So whatever their ages are this summer, find ways to slow down and take the chance to enjoy the time with them. They will only ever be this age during summer once. But how can you do what I am suggesting? Try the following ideas:
1. Clear some items off of your family’s calendar this summer. There are some things you simple cannot say “no” to but, for the other ones, take a long, hard look and give some thought to whether participating in the rest will bring more joy and other benefits than the added few hours or days of down time for all of you.
2. Find some time for self-care. Even if it is only rising five minutes earlier or going to bed five minutes later, exchanging play dates with a friend, or hiring a mother’s helper, you will be more successful at being present and really enjoying your children if you get a little down time to recharge your batteries. It doesn’t have to cost much and it really doesn’t even have to take that much time away in order for you to feel a little refreshed.
3. Be more conscious. This may sound a little hokey, but I will do my best to articulate what I mean. When my children were younger, I did not take my own advice. I felt like I was running constant marathon and I was drained, frustrated and depleted more often than not. So when my kids would have an outburst over something, I was knee-deep in it with them, completely unaware of the larger picture. For the most part, I failed to ask myself if they were tired, hungry, over or under-stimulated, needed some downtime, etc. and so my interactions with them came from a place of unconsciousness on my part. How I wish my older self could have guided my younger self to practice the art of becoming more conscious and trying to look at my life from a bird’s eye view, even in the heat of the moment (which I know is difficult, but not impossible, to do).
4. Try out a new activity. Take the opportunity of the slower pace of the summer to try new things – teach your child to cook, get a book from the library about native plants, take a nature walk and see if you can identify what you find, curl up on the couch and read together – the same book or your own separate books, plant a seed and watch it grow. There are so many things you can do. I am not suggesting that you tackle all of even many of them. Just find a new thing or two that will be interesting, low-stress and fun in order to enjoy more of the time you have with your child(ren) this summer.
5. Be aware of the passing of time. A few years ago, I got to the end of summer and I realized I had not done hardly anything “fun.” My kids were younger and I never really planned anything, just assuming there was more time. Again, unconsciously moving through the time of the summer. Before I knew it, the summer was over and I felt robbed. I finally realized that (at least where we live) the summer is about 10 weeks long between school years. That’s it. So now, when summer approaches, I am very aware of how many weeks we have and try to consciously and carefully decide (with my kids’ input) how much we want to fill our days and how much time we want with no plans. Since that one summer, some have been busier and some have been more open, but each one has felt well-used and spent with much more intentionality.
I wish you a fun, low-stress, peace-filled summer with your children, no matter what ages they are!