Summer is finally here! That means more time for patio-sitting, pool-swimming, mountain-hiking and book-reading. The days are beginning to lengthen, the sun shines longer and my soul feels lighter.
I feel lighter but also tired.
How is it I feel both at once? Oh that’s right, it’s called being a mom. Ha! But jokes aside, it feels like I should be the opposite– I should feel lighter and less tired. I have a long-held agreement with myself that summer break is a time for play and rest.
I’ve got the play part figured out but I’m not feeling all that rested.
I think it’s because play is easier for me.
With two small kids, it is necessary to burn energy and get moving, so we play. Pausing to be still seems impossible and well, dangerous. Unoccupied 2 year olds find markers or worse… nail polish.
But what if my definitions of play and rest need to be adjusted?
We live in a fast paced world. Our culture is driven to succeed, achieve and produce. This trickles into motherhood more than we realize. Unconsciously I think my play needs to achieve social-media-worthy grand adventures.
We see the “Summer Bucket Lists” all over Pinterest. The lists include all the things we can do in order to have the best summer and give our kids the best childhood memories. Of course I want this. I want to give my kids happy and fun moments. I want to do summer “right.” So what do I do?
I go after it.
I go after the list and yes, it’s so fun, but if I’m honest, it feels a little pushed and that leaves me feeling worn out. Let’s be real, these lists don’t include the “before” and “after” for each said-fun-activity. The before and after could explain why I feel this way…
- Feed, clothe and sunscreen small, squirmy humans. Prepare and feed them a healthy breakfast while also packing a healthy lunch and answering incessant questions about the upcoming day. (Hello mental gymnastics)
- Make sure it’s a lunch they will actually eat and you don’t feel too guilty about (Cheetos have cheese and fruit snacks have fruit, right?).
- Don’t forget snacks in case they refuse to eat the lunch. Low blood sugar turns an adorable toddler into a tiny monster.
- Load the kids and all the necessary junk for said-fun-activity into the car. Strap kids into car seats, with hats, water bottles, stroller, bag, gear and food. Oh and mom’s coffee.
- Mentally prepare that there is a 50/50 chance the 2 year old will love it or hate it.
- While they are still having fun, tell them it is time to leave. Yes, stop mid-fun to leave because if you wait until they are tired or melting down, you will carry a tired and melting down child to the car, with all the junk and probably forget your coffee.
- Load the children, the junk and the trash you forgot to throw away into the car.
- Look like a circus clown — singing, telling jokes, making weird sounds – for the entire drive home in an attempt to keep exhausted children awake.
- Arrive home, put (hopefully) awake kids down for rest and then collapse into the nearest chair. Save the unloaded car, half eaten lunches and all the junk for the next day. Just in time to repeat.
So I see why I’m tired.
Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing my kids experience joy. As a mom, that’s why I continue taking them on adventures. But why do I feel pressure to get after the WHOLE list? Where is the pressure coming from in the first place? When I pause, I see the pressure is not from my kids.
My kids are just as happy to hunt for rolly pollies in the green belt, dressed like princesses or superheroes and eat popsicles afterwards in the backyard.
I see the pressure as self-imposed. And this pressure can wear a mamma out.
Self-imposed pressure wears us all out.
What would it look like to lighten the pressure and trust that my love and presence as their mom is more important than any bucket list? What if I still do some of the bucket list but I also give myself space to breathe and rest in between? We can take time to water the flowers in my backyard together, ride bikes in the alley and run through the sprinklers. We don’t have to go and do the next big thing. I believe I may actually enjoy the adventures more if I create margin in between.
Emily P Freeman puts it simply, “It actually takes more work to create margin than it does to stay busy.”
“Busy is the default. Margin takes intention.”
So it’s time for me to rest, and it needs to be on the regular. This running after the next thing on the list doesn’t seem to be sustainable or life-giving. What would it look like to cultivate a habit of margin? To cultivate a habit of rest?
In order to cultivate something I must be able to define it. Join me next time as I explore what margin and rest look like in my life and perhaps yours too.