For some of us, the thought of summer sparks feelings of excitement and hope and eager anticipation! For others, feelings of dread rush in.
How do YOU feel about summer?
Are you excited? Eagerly anticipating all of the memory-making, fun-taking, family-playing moments of summer? Or do you break out in a cold sweat just thinkingabout summer and the juggling act of being present and involved with the kids while still trying to manage your work and responsibilities?
Many of us swing from grandiose ideas of summer fun to outsourcing all of summer to day camps, sports, and play dates with friends. But is there a middle ground? Is it possible to be laid-back and purposeful? Present and productive?
How do we intentionally connect with our kids amid the responsibilities we juggle?
I have to be honest. I got this really wrong a few summers ago.
I had such high hopes, and we started off so well. The first 3 weeks of summer break felt a little bit like a dream — the carefree days of summer. But then things took a turn for the worse. Reality set in and I realized that even though we started well, we didn’t have a sustainable plan.
We were a real-life example of the popular quote by Benjamin Franklin :: “If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.”
I carried a whole lot of excitement into that summer, but without a plan for how to live it out, our excitement quickly turned to disappointment — and guilt. A whole lot of guilt.
- I felt overwhelmed, wanting to spend time with the kids but unsure how I’d get my work done.
- Frustrated by my inability, because doesn’t every other mom already have this figured out?!
- And guilty when all of my good intentions stayed intentions and I never actually did the things I thought I should.
Have you ever experienced that or felt that way?
How to Plan a Summer You’ll Really Love
Whatever your circumstances or feelings about summer, I want to help us plan a summer we’ll really love.
Doing that, I believe, starts with taking a good hard look inside of ourselves and being honest about our feelings and circumstances.
In the busyness of life, we tend to skim over how we’re really feeling.
We stuff down a little disappointment here, a bit of frustration there, or a general sense of discontent hanging over us all the time. We might not intend to avoid those feelings, but the pace of life and the needs of our home force us to keep moving. But as a mentor once told me, when we bury our feelings, we bury them alive. They always find a way out.
Those feelings (known or not) shape our expectations and our realities. Our goal is to root them out now and name them.
Unnamed expectations can paralyze us and actually hinder us from moving forward because, in effect, we’re trying to hit the bullseye on a target we can’t even find! Naming the expectation is like locating the target so we can take aim and fly in the right direction.
We’ve created a simple, guided journal to help you identify and name your expectations for the summer and get clear on your target. Find out more about it here.
For now, here are three questions to help you get started.
3 Questions to Clarify Expectations and Craft a Summer You’ll Love
1. When you really stop and reflect, how are you really feeling about this summer?
You might feel a lot of things when thinking about summer, but which one is the undercurrent? Spend some time thinking about what emotion currently carries the most weight in your heart and mind. Is it hope? worry? freedom? dread? or something else entirely?
For me, one year, it was worry. I kept thinking how worried I felt about the summer. Even though I was excited, too, worry mixed in with all of the other emotions and lurked around every thought. It was the river of emotion that flowed under and over all of the other feelings I had as I thought about summer.
2. About what do I feel so [ insert the emotion here i.e. worried, excited, overwhelmed ]?
This question might take some time, and you may need to revisit this question a few times. Consider specific things motivating that emotion.
Get as specific as you can.
In my experience a few years ago, I put off this exercise, reasoning that it could wait. Weren’t all of my urgent tasks far more important? But once I sat down and listed the specifics of why I was so worried, the weight I had been carrying lifted.
Simply the act of getting specific – naming and listing out the worries – made a world of difference.
Looking over my list, I realized that some of my worries were legitimate; others weren’t. Some were big concerns; others were small. The key was, once I got all of that worry out of my head and heart and onto paper, I could see the fears more objectively and I could pray more specifically.
Getting clear on this question is more helpful than you might think.
3. What do you really want this summer?
This question aims for the root. When you think about this summer, what is it you really hope for? What direction do you want to head?
This question doesn’t necessarily ask you for your goals or the lists of things you want to do, though those can help you uncover what you really want.
We can easily list things we want to do. A summer want list might include doing fun things with our kids, date nights with our significant others, laid-back, relaxing weekends, and all kinds of warm fuzzy feelings.
But the reason WHY we desire those experiences gets at the want.
Some of us long for deeper connections with the people we love. Someone else desires those experiences because she’s felt so uptight and controlling, and she really wants to live stress free with her family. For others, the frantic pace of life has kept everyone on edge, and she yearns for a slower pace with her family.
This why isn’t a specific destination, it’s a direction, an intention toward.
As you answer the question, list out all the wants that come to mind. Get them all down on paper. Then look over them and see if there’s a pattern. What motivates those desires? What is at the root? What do you really want this summer? Or put another way — at the end of the summer, when you look back, what will be the mark of a faithful, fulfilling summer?
Moms, let me tell you out of my own experience :: you can be PRESENT and PURPOSEFUL and ENJOY this summer with your kids. You don’t have to dread these next few months — or feel guilty about them!
Naming our expectations and getting clear on what we want is the first step in planning a summer we love!
Want more help in planning a faithful, fulfilling summer? Grab our Summer Connection Guide here!