Transitioning to Summer – Switching from Go to Slow

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Once all the fanfare of the school year has finally wound down, I more often than not find that the reality inside my head doesn’t match the great exhale I so desperately craved when I was in the vortex of those crazy final weeks. After reaching the finish line this year, as in years past, I found my thoughts racing ahead to packing for our beach vacation, the drive, what we were going to do for three days, the unpacking upon our return, the start of camp and even the next vacation in August. 

So if the decompression is supposed to have arrived, where is it? Well, I’ve found relaxation doesn’t just suddenly and magically appear after you’ve been in constant go-mode. It’s a transition, and even the best transitions are a process. And they can be stressful, especially when you heap on the added stress of, “Why can’t I just relax now?”

The first step of switching gears for me is to recognize without judgment that the busy voices in my head are so used to being on-call that they’re going to need a little time to pipe down. I think of them as well-meaning guests who’ve unwittingly overstayed their welcome at a party. They were great at keeping the party going, but the party’s over now and they need a gentle nudge out the door. 

My inner control freak seems to be the main culprit behind my inability to just relax into summer. So in order to release it, while still acknowledging its need to hang on, I made a list of resolutions to slowly release it now that its presence is no longer needed as much.

1. Stop looking ahead to “the next.”

Summer is short. Don’t make it any shorter by thinking ahead to the next vacation, event, start of school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (yes, I’m guilty of having already thought of all of these). It will get here in a blink and you will deeply regret having missed out on these precious lazy days by pondering the future busy ones.

2. Resist the temptation to play “Julie the Cruise Director” to the kids all summer.

It’s totally unnecessary and stressful to all involved. I’m not saying don’t plan activities for them, but be sure to build in downtime and don’t resist it. Let the activities evolve naturally instead of orchestrating some sort of imagined outcome. Everyone in my household is happiest when things take a spontaneous turn that wasn’t planned. They are some of our best memories and more relaxed moments.

3. Let go of some of the usual household chores and routines.

The house will not collapse if it gets a little dustier than usual. Order in and dine out more or barbeque and pick up a couple of sides. Simplification of domestic chores and obligations should not only be guilt-free, it should be leaned into with pleasure.

4. Outside and even within getaway vacations, keep outings as low-key as possible.

My kids are happiest just playing imagination games in any body of water, whether it’s the beach, a sprinkler or our town pool. We love just kicking a ball around, singing in the car and taking walks around our community. Elaborate and over-the-top does not always equate to best, and often has the unintended consequence of ushering in “Julie the Cruise Director” syndrome in resolution #2 and consequently stress for all.

5. Sleep late whenever possible. Force yourself if necessary. 

My body and brain are so used to getting up at the crack of dawn. I found myself on vacation waking at a time I didn’t need to and feeling like we needed to get things started. It’s taken me a couple of weeks to force myself to stay in bed, let myself and the kids start sleeping a little later than we’re used to and stop fighting the sensation of needing to spring into action.

6. Release your grip, slowly, on the need to DO and acknowledge that you’ve earned the right to NOT DO for a little while.

This one is the hardest for me. I’m not there yet, and I’ve found it helps me to quietly remind myself that it’s OK to enjoy the quiet and that I deserve and actually need the slower pace. So do the kids, who are tuned into my frequency and know when I’m still wound. They are in their own decompression process and need permission to switch gears.

It’s so counter-intuitive that the arrival of summer doesn’t instantly equate with feelings of relaxation. But it’s entirely understandable. No need to yell at that lingering guest that’s continuing to stress you out.  Just thank it for all it’s done and bid it farewell for a couple of months so you can get some much needed and deserved rest. 

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Jordana lives in Bedford Hills, NY, with her two favorite humans also known as her children, Kaylie (13) and Chase (12). She grew up all over the world, landed in the Washington D.C. area for a long stretch and 15 years ago wound up in Westchester, which she now proudly considers home. She's a recovering attorney, now assistant to a private wealth advisor. She spends what little free alone time she has on her Peloton, watching reality and crime TV and listening to a wide variety of music on her deck with a cocktail. She enjoys taking her kids for day trips into New York City, local restaurants in the Hudson Valley, beach vacations in Rhode Island and the occasional amusement park But she also loves just hanging out and relaxing with them at home. She loathes laundry, grocery shopping and vacuuming. Jordana's favorite mottos to live by are don't compare yourself to anyone else (especially when it comes to parenting), don't be afraid to take chances or start over, always strive to be kind, and never take yourself too seriously. And if all else fails, have a good scream into your pillow, and go do something really nice for yourself, or better yet, somebody else.