The other day, I was hanging out with a friend and we were talking about how summer comes along and everything gets thrown off. All the little pieces of our lives that we managed to arrange, just so, tend to get all jumbled into a little fiesta.
We kind of go from my son’s dinner plate – nothing touching, everything in its place – to a messy, mixed-up Chipotle burrito.
It’s easier to stay out much later with our kids – picnicking, watching music shows, lingering at the playground or wading at the beach. And that means that our normal schedule goes off course.
I told my friend that I wanted to write a post about this and she imagined that I would be encouraging parents to stay on routine. That’s because she is Israeli and Israelis are REALLY GOOD at breaking rules. And you might be that way, too. Or maybe you are like me and need some permission to break the parenting rules.
So I wonder –
Where do you fall on the PSS (Parenting Schedule Spectrum)?
Yea, I made this up but I think it will help us figure out how to adjust to summer. I’ll touch on two extremes but there are many gray areas in between.
<Very Scheduled / Somewhat Scheduled / Somewhat Unscheduled / Very Unscheduled>
The Very Scheduled Parent. Is this you?
This was me. Especially with my first. He was on such a tight schedule that I barely wanted to go to classes, or go anywhere really, in fear of throwing it off. He was a terrible sleeper and keeping to a tight schedule was my way of holding onto some sanity. It was a strand of control that made me feel like I could fix the situation and get my sleep back.
When summer came along we spent much more time outside with others and on other people’s schedules. It made this scheduled mom a bit uptight
So, I’m going to tell you what I wish someone had told me and what I now know after having my second and third:
Dear Very Scheduled Parent.
Relax. It is great that you have a schedule that you can rely on. You made it happen which means you can build it again. Habits are easily made and easily broken. Both ends work to our benefit. You can allow yourself to release it a bit every now and then.
Remember that summer is like a tight braid that can be slightly loosened in certain parts while still maintaining the braid shape.
Go to the music shows. Stay out late. Have dinner at a barbecue with friends and your baby. You won’t do this every night and most nights your baby will be on your regular schedule. Straying a bit every now and then will not throw off your routine.
Bottom line: What do you have a schedule for if not to enjoy your time with your baby and as a parent? So let yourself Let It Go when the time is right. Allow your summer to be magical. You won’t remember the nights you got your baby into bed by 8pm. You will remember the first night your baby got to see fireworks.
And on the other extreme …
The Very Unscheduled Parent. Is this you?
This was me with my third. To you, I have a different message. This is the message my friend instinctually thought I was going to write in the blog because she was thinking about Israeli parents who fly by the seat of their pants and tend to know how to have fun.
Dear Very Unscheduled Parent,
Everything in moderation. You will have to find the right balance between letting the schedule go and taking baby to all the fun plans while also maintaining some routine.
Music can be exceptionally helpful during this time. Make sure to keep your lullaby going, use your morning song, your bathtime song, your diaper changing song. Those songs will help you and your baby anchor during certain moments of the day.
Try to put baby to sleep at the same time at least 5 out of 7 nights a week. Try to have the naps mostly be at the same time. This will be enough to maintain a schedule so that you and your baby can continue enjoying all the adventures that summer brings.
Our babies surprise us. I thought my baby would be so fussy if I didn’t have him exactly on our schedule. But, with time, I found that that was not the case at all. He was actually totally fine when we didn’t follow our regular routine. Maybe the strict routine was for me?
I also thought it would all be fiiiiiiine and my third would find a place to lie down and go to sleep when she was ready if we were out. She never did. And if we did many of those evenings we ended up paying a price in her increasing fussiness.
So our job during summer is to find the right balance. Have fun, Be spontaneous. Feel like your old self again. And at the same time maintain the foundation and hold up enough of a structure for you both.
What percentage are you planning to flex your schedule? Comment if you’re staying 100% the same (easy breezy!), 0% the same (adventure calls!!) – or somewhere in between.
Have procrastinator friends who are still putting off planning? Have prepared friends who booked camps a year in advance? Send them all this newsletter. We all need a little permission to find our flow this sun season.
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