I feel like we just blinked and ended up at the end of June 2023 … you too?
Happy *official* start to the summer! Skyler is in his last two days of preschool this week, and it’s got me feeling extra emotional and a little anxious.
It’s all bittersweet — on one hand, I’ll get a lot of quality time with him over the next few months, and on the other, I’m already feeling overwhelmed thinking about my to-dos and commitments with a little one around. Next comes the mom guilt, which always happens when picking personal progress over entertaining your kiddo. Pair that with feeling extra guilty if you hand them a screen in order to do the “bare minimum for you” when they could be playing outside, and you have the recipe for summertime with a five-year-old.
(I know I’m not alone here, so you aren’t either!)
Summertime is certainly a FUN and relaxing time of year, but it can also be stressful in other ways. It’s easy to lose track of your goals and routine in and outside of health and fitness. I’m personally feeling this one BIG TIME this year.
There is a list of non-negotiable projects I’m planning, but not sure how to get them done without sending Skyler to day and week camps. And at New York City pricing, it’s not cheap or a realistic option more than a week or two, tops. I’m just trying to stay flexible and stay on top of everything one week at a time.
But I’m anxious and need some type of structure. (You too? Ha, this is exactly why I’m writing this post today.) Now that you know that I am right here in the trenches with you, let’s discuss what can you do to help keep you on track and focused this summer.
I’m not an expert, but here is what I’m planning and would encourage you try with the busy (but fun) months ahead!
- Set achievable goals for the summer that align with your long-term goals.
Be honest with yourself and look at your long-term goals and dreams. Then look at your calendar. Is it fair or realistic to put the same amount of work or pressure onto your days when you now have the extra task of parenting 24/7?
For some, the answer is yes. But for others (including me), it’s just not in the cards for most of the summer. I still have my goals with deadlines, but they need some tweaking and grace along the way. This strategy will keep you motivated and pushing forward!
Instead of feeling like you’re not doing enough to keep up, be okay with scaling back and leaning more on baby steps to carry you through. Know that this is enough and sometimes needed for long-term success.
I’m a firm believer of scheduling temporary breaks (more on this below) to fully reset and prepare for the busy, focused seasons ahead. Am I suggesting that you throw everything out the window? Of course not. Just be on board with reassessing and see what you can actually handle on your plate. Let go of what you can’t.
- Stay hydrated and make healthy food choices to fuel your body and mind.
Okay, this one definitely helps you stay on top of your health and fitness goals, but it carries over to any other category for YOU, too. Eating nutrient-dense foods and drinking enough water to balance out the extra summer outings and coffee dates will keep you feeling your best. Aim for getting at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water per day – maybe more considering it’s hot and humid out!
- Create a schedule or routine for your days to stay organized and productive.
The flexibility of summer mornings is nice, but sometimes it’s a bit too flexible and can spin your day into what feels like a free-for-all. As someone who is the main caretaker for our son for the summer, I am going into the next few weeks with a loose schedule and routine in mind.
Note, however, that some days will be scheduled as free days … they shouldn’t all be accounted for, just like we typically leave more time for play on the weekends during the school year.
That said, I want to keep my Mondays through Fridays similar to what we do when he’s in school. We have a set wake-up time, we eat breakfast and get dressed, but instead of rushing out the door we have options to fill our days with other activities. We’ll have scheduled play dates or trips to the park, but I’ll need to pair that with dedicated “power hours” where I’m glued to the computer and give him an indoor activity nearby.
We’ll have lunch, then go out for another adventure in the afternoon and start with that on paper. That’s enough structure for me and should keep us moving on most days.
I’ve realized that I need to include him in more of the tasks I usually do alone, since I’ll need more hours to knock out some work at night and in the early morning when he’s sleeping. He’ll be around when I’m folding laundry, putting dishes away, and even grocery shopping and prepping meals. He’ll also need to be around most workouts, so I’m going into them knowing they won’t be perfect or uninterrupted. Flexibility and grace is key.
- Prioritize your tasks and focus on the most important ones first.
What are three things you have to do that day, three things you’d like to do but can be pushed to the next few days, and three things that are on the list but can wait until the following week or so? Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, I write these things down on paper and start tackling things according to priority. It’s okay to shift things around and take things one day and week at a time. I start a new list every day at times and it’s so helpful.
- Limit your screen time and focus on activities that promote mental and physical well-being.
I’m the first to admit that I like a good mindless television series to put on at night in order to unwind. Be aware, however, that this isn’t intruding into other activities or things on your list that help you towards your goals both mentally and physically.
For example, before I watch a show at night, I tackle something “future Heather” will appreciate. I’ll knock out an hour of work or complete a chapter in a new certification (more on this soon!) first. If I grab my phone, I set a limit to how long I can be on it scrolling before bedtime. It’s so easy to get stuck in rabbit holes, right? Aim to be off all screens at least thirty minutes before bed. Out of sight, out of mind.
My number one rule with staying up at night and balancing self-care is to ask myself if what I’m staying up for is also something I would wake up early the next morning to do. If the answer is yes, then it’s worth my time. If not, then maybe it’s something you can limit and put away and turn in early.
- Make time for self-care activities like exercise, meditation and spending time outdoors.
Get outside! That’s the most important takeaway in this category, and should absolutely include your kids. Go for long walks, ride a bike, kick a soccer ball, go swimming if you have access to a pool, play a sport, whatever. Just get active and outside to soak in some fresh air and Vitamin D on the daily.
Also, keep things that are important to YOU at the forefront of your schedule. Exercise can be as simple as 20-30 minutes workouts at home several times a week, as consistency beats intensity every time. Pray or meditate, even if it’s for just a few minutes in the morning or before you go to sleep. Two minutes is always better than zero!
- Stay connected with friends and family to maintain a support system.
If you’re not around family and traveling isn’t in the cards, pick up the phone and stay connected when you can. FaceTime has been a savior for us, as we adapted video chats during the pandemic and haven’t strayed very far since. Stay connected and remember that you’re not doing this life alone!
Schedule outings or at least times to catch-up with friends with calls. Go on play dates, which can be great for both parents and kids to socialize. Voice how you’re feeling and how you’re doing to your spouse. It takes a village — don’t forget to lean on them from time to time.
- Take breaks and allow yourself to have fun and enjoy the summer.
I briefly mentioned this one earlier, and it’s an important one that deserves a spotlight.
Breaks are great for a reset, either to help you get out of a feeling of burnout or avoid one down the road. Breaks can be used during vacations and travels, or even just scheduled into your normal routine if you’re feeling “over it” instead of quitting all together. I use vacations and also schedule breaks from different things into my normal routine every year, and it’s the glue that holds everything together. I need them.
Summertime is supposed to be fun, so don’t forget to enjoy it. Be okay with staying flexible and taking a beat from your normally over-scheduled days in the school year. Go on trips if you can, and focus on things you can control like your water intake, adding vegetables to your meals, your daily steps and sleep and stress management.
The full structure will be back before we know it!
- Keep a journal to reflect on the positive aspects of your life. Stay motivated by practicing gratitude.
Keeping a positive attitude may sound cheesy but, it is *so* helpful for your daily motivation, especially when you feel like a lot of your life and schedule is out of your control. Instead of automatically looking for your flaws or where you’re dropping the ball, where are you excelling? Take notice and pat yourself on the back.
What are three things you’re grateful for today? Ask yourself this question and literally write the answers down. Circle back to past entries if you’re feeling stumped. There’s always more good to see if we’re looking for it. (This is so motivating!)
- Adapt to changes in your routine or plans while still staying true to your goals and values.
I mentioned this earlier, so this last point is basically a big summery of them all: have your goals, but stay flexible. Learn to pivot and swerve. Turn “failure” into feedback.
Can’t get to the gym today? Go for a long walk with the family or complete a workout at home. Recovering from a sickness? Reassess this week’s goals and do what you can. Look at what didn’t happen and figure out a way to tackle it in a timeline that makes sense for you.
Realistic, smaller goals always go further than the “all or nothing” mindset. Stay flexible in the summertime and dial in on the controllables I mentioned above like getting enough water, prioritizing sleep and stress management, including vegetables, etc. Those can follow you anywhere!
And that will do it for now!
Thank you so much for reading, and please know that you are doing a great job today and always. I hope this post helped motivate you into tackling the summer months ahead with some grace and gratitude.
We’re getting ready for a trip home to Florida on Sunday, and I’m taking this list with me.
I’ll see you back here with the latest favorites round-up before I go, and I hope you have a fabulous week.
How is the summer going for you so far?
Have you found a balance between work and play, or are you in a season of one day at a time?
(I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!)
You might also like:
- Why You Should Unplug Regularly, and When To Do It
- Tips On How To Celebrate Small Wins Every Day
- My Tips 10 Years Into the “Season of the Unknown”
- Tips On Increasing Your Productivity
[Photo Credit: Jason Roth Photography]