The Organic Summer
Posted on June 18 2018
Summer is upon us and I’ve got four beautiful faces staring at me wondering what we’re doing, where we’re going, and who we’re going to see. I think back to summer vacation when I was a little girl growing up in Santa Barbara, California. Summer was a time to mellow out, hang with friends and family, watch a ton of TV, and never check the time. When we weren’t watching MTV, the Love Boat, or Fantasy Island, we were at the beach playing in the surf and soaking up the sun. If we weren’t at the beach, we were with friends doing nothing. Were we bored? Yes, but that’s when we got creative and used our imaginations and had some great laughs.
Summer, as a mother of four girls, ages 13, 11, 9, and 6, isn’t much different than it was when I was a little girl except for one tiny thing. What’s the tiny thing you ask? Summer gives me the awesome opportunity to reconnect with each of these four girls in unique and organic ways. Oh yeah, and sunscreen is used. Okay, so there are two tiny things. The school year is all about being hurried, overscheduled, and stressed. We are always on the go, trying to keep up, feeling stacked, and going round and round. By the time school is out, we are burned out on the hurry, hurry, rush, rush and desperate for a change so we can recharge, catch our breath, and feel good about where we are and what we’re doing.
Slowing things down and not having a schedule or a plan is exactly how the girls and I reconnect during the Summer. Everyone wakes up, has breakfast and there is some casual conversation about the day. Maybe some conversation about tomorrow, but that’s about as extensive as our planning gets. I’m game for whatever they might want to do. Once we slow things down, I have a chance to have some genuine conversation with these very special girls. What do we talk about? We talk about whatever they want to talk about. They drive and I’m along for the ride. Depending on the age it might be relationships with boys and/or girls, the latest Netflix series they are binge watching, or sharing pinterest boards. The younger girls might want to talk about nothing in particular at all that makes zero sense to me, but they’ve got a lot to say nevertheless. Slowing things down and not having a schedule or a plan allows me the opportunity to hear their valuable words and opinions. I make eye contact and take a genuine interest in their interests. Without saying a word, I’m telling them they are valuable.
What are we doing to spur organic conversation? Thankfully, most are low or no cost options. We cook or bake, take a hike, do volunteer work in our community, hang at the pool, hit the beach, wash the car, make s’mores, goof off with Snap Chat filters, dress up and make home movies, or get crafty. We’re often laughing and talking while doing nothing at all. Despite the age difference among the girls, they relate to one another, give advice, joke around, and make meaningful connections and memories. Don’t misunderstand. We all need our own time, our “bubble space,” as my little ones like to call it. I know it’s time when they start turning into trolls. Throughout the day, they’ll retreat to their own space and do things like read, get crafty, watch a movie, or even nap. Yup! Naps happen for all ages during the lazy days of summer. I’ll peek in their room and they’ll have dozed off while reading.
The most challenging part is making time for each individual girl. Each voice needs to be heard, no matter how small. That means I have to make more effort to connect with each girl, one on one, at some point during the day. It might be early morning with the girl that wakes up first or it might be a late-night ice cream date in the kitchen with the girl that’s the night owl. There isn’t a set time or schedule and there is not secret formula, but it happens at some point every day. We connect, I hear them, I love them… every day. xoxo, Inger