Growing up, I loved summer for its perfect blend of laziness and activity. I spent my days sleeping in and hanging out with my friends at the pool, and then, once I was in high school, my evenings were filled with community theater rehearsals and low-key plans with friends.
As an adult, especially the last few years before having kids, summers were a blur. I packed them with full work schedules, gigs, vacations, and obligations to which I felt bad saying no. I barely spent any time in my summer happy place (next to a pool), and let the season slip by because I was so “busy”.
That was my experience even after having kids, as we added all kinds of new activities to the mix. I continued to say yes to work opportunities and performances, even though really, I just longed for weekends completely free of plans.
But this summer is different. I’ve spent the first half of 2017 slowly paring down commitments and work to that which most fulfills me and suits my family life, and now, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I have more white space than plans on my calendar.
I’m still working — teaching classes, seeing a few music therapy clients, growing my businesses, and writing — but in a way that is manageable and not leading to burnout. My family is still doing plenty of the things that bring us joy — attending and hosting birthday parties, play dates, trips to the pool with our neighborhood crew — but in a way that is fun and not overwhelming.
Miraculously, I’m actually completing my to-do lists every day and getting to projects around the house that have been sitting dormant for months. I’m diving into books that have been sitting on my nightstand untouched since I bought them. I’ve ridden over 300 miles on my bike, which is more than I’ve logged in the last 4 years combined.
Yes, I’m being productive and actively practicing self-care, but for once, I don’t feel bad giving into guilty pleasures. Netflix binges, extended scrolls through my phone, Starbucks runs, and meandering trips through Target (yes, I am a living, breathing, stereotype) are regular occurrences throughout the week. The fact that I have time to do all of this ALONG WITH all the meaningful stuff is truly amazing.
My biggest hope is that by slowing down, my kids feel the positive effects as much as I have. It has been so nice to have dinner together every night, stay up a little later, spend entire days just playing at home and outside, and not feel distracted by work or things I “should” be doing. This is the life I imagined for my family one day when I made the decision to start my own business all those years ago.
Lots of people around me are talking about how busy they are this summer, and I get it…I’ve been there. But I am enjoying NOT saying “me too”, and instead easing into a season that is much slower by design.