It’s August! Summer Time and the Livin is Easy – so sings Ella Fitzgerald in the 1968 classic. But I’m not so sure that that is mine – or your – summer experience. Right?!
As a kid, August was this care-free month. No school, no responsibilities, just fun at camp and hanging out with friends. As a young adult, August meant freedom! Travelling aboard without parents, driving to fun sun-drenched events, hanging out with friends till late with no University deadlines.
As a “real-life” adult with a family, August now triggers mixed feelings.
On the one hand, I love the lack of homework, not making snacks for school, the lack of school emails and class WhatsApp, the not needing to wake the kids up and the rush of the morning. And I love the freedom to do what we want when we want, spending hours at the beach or pool not worrying about what time we have to be at some extra-curricular activity. It’s a time to really connect with your children and create the family dynamic you dream of.
However, on the other hand I find the lack of routine for me and the family stressful. Routine gives our lives a framework, a structure which is sorely missing during the summer vacation months. There is way too much screen time which is only limited by shouting to “turn that damn thing off”. Fighting off the boredom by continually trying to find meaningful ways to entertain the kids. A continually messy house filled with Pinterest inspired art projects, and sticky ice-pop marks all over the floor. Late nights, poor sleeping habits, AND most importantly for someone with their own business, totally NOT being able to focus on my work because, well hey the kids are ALWAYS around and want to eat 24 hours a day.
In my experience, most mothers, regardless of how young or old your kids are, oscillate between these two ends of the emotional spectrum during the summer months. And this emotional fluctuation can have a profound effect on your mental health, with you left praying at the end of the day that your kids will remember only the good experiences you worked so hard to give them.
So what advice can I give you, the devoted mother, who may be finding August just a little challenging. For me, August has become the month to practice the important lesson of SURRENDER. This lesson is SUPER HARD for those of us who like order, structure, framework and who work very hard to not get stressed out by the growing mounds of beach sand in the car!
Surprisingly a bit of surrendering may be EXACTLY what you need for a few weeks every year. Surrendering to those things you cannot control, or being mindful enough to know what you should not control during this time, is very powerful. It gives you an opportunity to create space between what should be verses the craziness of what is. It gives you the space to say – “For today this will be just fine!” It gives you the freedom to release the stress and worry you carry, and try to recapture some of those lost feelings of freedom and carefree summers from your youth.
Surrendering and being mindful in the process, is a journey. It’s something to be worked at, and not something that can be achieved overnight. At the beginning you might have to convince yourself to surrender. It won’t feel natural and your gut instinct will be to fight it. As with everything in the world of Yoga and mindful living, some days will be better than others. Some days, things will flow with easy and you will go be bed feeling smugly content that you did a great job. Other days you will wonder why G-d ever blessed you with children if this was the type of parent you were destined to be. But keep trying! The more you actively create this emotional state for yourself – even if it is just for a few minutes every day – the more it will to seep into your consciousness. Slowly you may discover that August is just another month in the year with the potential to be something quite fun.
And before you know it, those school emails will be flooding your inbox again, reminding you what your child needs for the first day of the new school year. Then you really will need to surrender yourself to the craziness of the start of school!