As we squeeze the last few weeks out of summer, I am torn. I look forward to the routines that come with the fall. For one, I know where my children will be from 8 am to 4 pm – school. And I know who will be watching them- the teachers. During the summer, things are much more day-to-day as I work with clients and my husband often works from home. Our time management usually consists of a Sunday night briefing of all that is going on, followed by daily updates communicated by scribbling on the family calendar and texting during the day. More than once I have gone to pick up my teenager from camp only to see a confused face and hear,”Why are you here? I have a ride.” Ahh the stress of changing schedules by the hour! I will be happy when that is over.
But I’m trying to stay in the spirit of the relaxed summer schedule and adopt my boys’ attitude. They wake up with no plan. If they’re hungry they eat. If they want to watch TV or play games they do. When they’re hot, they go swimming. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. Ahh! to be young with no responsibilities. ..So I have on occasion been spontaneous this summer. If I did not have a client, I did my work early in the day and then said “Ok kids what do you want to do now?” Not a lot of enthusiasm as they’d rather I drive them to a friend’s than do something with them, but I have gotten them to see a few movies, go shopping and even go kayaking with me. These are the best moments of the summer.
Of course, the trick is to find balance because sometimes no routine means no work for mom and boredom for the kids. I have also heard, “What are we going to DO today?” And then I feel guilty if I’m working and they are bored at home.
I don’t have all the answers here. It is a constant struggle to balance work & family time, schedules and free time. But if you have flexibility with your work, take it! I tried to schedule all my clients this summer in the morning so I could be home for the boys in the afternoon. I could still be on the computer or phone but they could have friends over to swim. On my days off I tried to do something with them and on the rare weekend when we all were home and not scheduled, I try to do spontaneous family outings or at least meals together! I firmly believe one of the tricks to maintaining balance in your life is knowing when schedules are helpful and knowing when to let go. When you do, you also let go of stress and allow happy things to happen because you weren’t too busy to notice them.
What fun things have happened to you when you abandon your schedule?