Tips for Parents to Transition into Summer

The warm weather in Marin the last few weeks has created a bit of spring fever. Many of us have already been to the beach and hosted early season barbeques. Fueled by this warm weather and the taste of summer, I decided to begin my summer planning. I opened my calendar and clicked through June filled with recitals, graduations, ceremonies and the last day of regularly scheduled activities. Then came July and August. The open weeks stretched out like blank pages in a writing test booklet. Suddenly, I was facing two months with no plans…help!

When I was a kid, the anticipation of summer was intoxicating. Months of carefree, open-ended time lay ahead. I would dream of new projects, adventures, forts, spending time with friends and all kinds of water sports. Now, looking at these empty months as a parent, the longer days create anxiety without the anchors of regular school and scheduled activities.

As busy parents, what can we do to honor the transition into this beautiful season? Start by asking yourself if you are anticipating fun-filled activity in the days ahead or dreading the space between June and September as you struggle to fill the time with activities for your family?

I find it helpful to notice my anxiety around an empty schedule and pause for a moment with it. Notice how you feel in your body at the end of a long exhale before taking the next breath. There is a natural pause before the inhale. In this transitional pause, there is space. Lingering in this spacious place can help release anxiety before taking in a welcoming breath of the warmer, longer days ahead.

Here are a few tips to smooth the transition into summer:

• Create visual schedules. As much as we crave open-ended time, too much of it can create chaos. Young children especially thrive in a structured environment. Try to engage your children in the planning process. Ask them to draw or act out their summer dream schedule. Then help them to organize these pictures into a daily or weekly schedule.

• Try something new: Create an adventure journal with your kids. Choose an activity that you have never tried before and document your adventure with pictures, stories and mementos.

• Encourage play dates: Summer is a great time to enhance social skills such as negotiating, conflict resolution, communication and imaginative play.

• Treat your hometown like a new place and wander around: Try taking public transportation or visit a local historical place.

• Create a new ritual (or tradition): I welcome you to create your own rituals for the transition into summer that have meaning for your family. Maybe you enjoy a pajama day or bathing suit day. You could stop using your car for a few days and walk or bike around. Maybe you have an outdoor dance party with friends, start a smoothie day or host an ice cream social. Have a festival in the yard and invite the neighbors!

By trying at least one of these tips, you will help ease the anxiety of summer scheduling and turn the change in seasons into something fun. On a deeper level, the more you practice being with the emptiness and sitting in the stillness, the more you will notice the structures that exist. Create a pause and honor the transition into the expansive days of summer. Your internal dreamer will thank you.

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