I know that this is a season where many people are savoring the “lazy days of summer,” but for me, summer this year feels like the exact opposite.
It’s primarily because I’m pregnant and am trying to get my business ready so that I don’t have to work full time after the baby is born in the fall. This summer, I’m working hard ahead of time on projects for clients, pushing myself to be a better boss so I can prepare and train my employees well so that October, November, and December can be a season with more rest.
And of course, at the same time, still trying to get in some quality family time and fun summer activities.
Oh, and did I mention all those pregnancy nesting urges? I’m suddenly overcome with the deep longing to tackle nagging clutter-magnet areas of our home and get existing kid-spaces more orderly and peaceful before the baby arrives.
The reality is that for me this summer is more about a season of busy preparation, not rest.
I find it helpful to recognize and even label the unique challenges and delights of the particular season of life that I’m in, remembering that it’s temporary. The long list of things I hope to accomplish before the baby is born is most certainly unrealistic, but enough of it will get done and everything will be okay.
In this season of preparation and growth, I’ve been trying to pay attention the things that are making this season easier or better, so here’s my list of “what’s saving my life” this summer.
Verbal gratitude lists
When my best friend got married and moved an hour away, we started using the Voxer app to stay more connected between times where we could talk face to face.
We often share our daily gratitude lists in a voice recording for each other and it’s such a special way to both stay connected and hear about the little things in each other’s lives and also spend some time reflecting on things I’m thankful for.
Bonus: it only takes a few minutes and can even be done in the car with kids in the back-seat.
This spring had some extra challenges in parenting and we ended up making a few significant changes in behavior strategies for our 9-year-old. One of those was using a rewards jar.
There’s something about the tactile and visual nature of filling the jar when he has a good attitude, does chores without complaining, (or generally does anything great that we want to acknowledge and praise) that has really been effective.
It’s been a great reminder for me about how sometimes you just need to be open to making tiny tweaks with your parenting strategies to find what works for each kid.
Texting my husband less
Okay, so maybe “less” isn’t totally accurate. But, we have made some shifts in what we text about*.
Previously, I confess, I would often text him things like, “tonight we need to talk about X,” or other non-urgent family-scheduling questions. The reality is that both of us are working and it’s not helpful to be interrupted by incomplete information about a decision we really just need to discuss in person.
Now, if it’s money/budget or scheduling related, we email each other at our personal (not work) email address. When there are things we need to discuss, I just keep a running list in the Notes app on my phone about what we need to discuss that evening. It has been so helpful to keep the sort of “business items” separate so that we can address them together when we’re both focused on it.
Now, our texting during the day is more signs of affection, maybe a funny moment that happened, or photos of kids, without the intermingled To Do sort of items.
Splurging on easy, healthy food
This has primarily looked like smoothies after working out or prepared meals at Trader Joe’s, with the occasional extra eating-out for a meal.
Being pregnant and working a lot has made me realize this is just a season where I simply don’t have the energy to cook as much but where I really need to make sure that I’m taking care of my body both for the growing baby and for my own physical and mental energy levels.
It’s a season where it’s been valuable to let myself spend more on convenient and healthy food instead of letting stress and exhaustion lead me towards convenient and unhealthy food that will only make me feel more tired.
Journaling is basically always saving my life, one day at a time.
In a busy season, I have to remind myself that it’s worth it to slow down, give myself space to think and reflect, label and acknowledge. When it feels the hardest to make time for journaling is when I need it most.