Surviving Summer: How Your Tribe Can Help

I think most moms have a love/hate relationship with summer. Sunshine at the pool, vacations, and family time. It’s wonderful when the kids are out of school and the house is full, warm, and loud. But what about our lives? Our work and personal responsibilities have not changed. But instead of having the hours between 8 and 4 to get-stuff-done, we have the added responsibility of the fun, enrichment and entertainment of the growing hearts and minds of our kiddos 24/7. I have far from perfected the summer work/life equation, but in my years of trying and failing, trying and almost succeeding, and trying again (and again), I’ve realized the one thing that makes it all easier is relying on your tribe.

girls playing summer

Asking for help isn’t easy. PMS (perfect mom syndrome) is real (thanks society!), but it isn’t possible. So let’s let that one go, shall we? New society mantra: “We can have it all. Just not all at one time.” Now that we have that covered, we can be open to being honest with ourselves and each other, and comfortable with asking for help.

Lean on your tribe and let your tribe lean on you. I call it “reaching out and reaching back”. You would be there if someone asked, right? You recognize the reach out and you reach back. Your tribe is there to do the same for you. Summer is the perfect time to ask for the help, support, or affirmation when you need it. Here are some “Surviving Summer Tribe Tips” to help you reach out to your tribe:

1. Play-date swaps

Sometimes asking for help is easier when we know we can reciprocate. The “I’ll scratch your back if you busy calendar to do listscratch mine” mind-set is easy to get our heads and hearts around. Have a meeting or desperately need some time to yourself? Make an arrangement with a good friend in the same boat. She takes the kids for a few hours, a few days in a row, or a whole week, and you return the favor. I have a friend who can work from home and so can I. Our projects and “intense times” flex, so we are able to look at our calendars and say, “Hey, I have a busy week in June. Would you be able to take the kids that day (days, week) if I can take them for a day (days, week) in July?” We have dubbed it “Cousin Camp”. The kids love it, and so do we!

2. Work/Play-date together

Go to one another’s house, let the kids play and each of you relax (together or separately), or get some work done. So much of our lives revolves around our kids, so the likelihood that you have found a “kindred spirit mom”, who you like and your kids like to play together, is pretty high. If you’re lucky, they are also a person who doesn’t care if your laundry is done or your floors are vacuumed. The beauty of women together is that we intuit what one another need. There have been times when both my girlfriend and I are heads down at the dining room table and working away when one of the kids comes in. Depending on intensity and deadlines, one of us will get up and take care of things while the other gets-stuff-done. It’s a beautiful thing in every way.

3. Share the struggle

women laughingSummer is hot enough without wearing your stress jacket everywhere you go! You have to learn how to take it off. It’s important to share your frustrations and built up stress with your tribe and not insulate it. That’s why girlfriend dates are so important. Whether it’s for dinner, getting pedicures, grabbing coffee, sitting on the couch with a bottle of wine, or just a phone call (yes, those still exist), find time with your tribe. See each other, hear each other, feel each other. Take solace in your friends with similar struggles and obstacles. Validate each other’s frustrations, and share your own strategies. Take off that damn stress jacket and cool down.

4. Say “yes” to you

I will never stop saying this. Saying “yes” to you is the best gift you can give to others. Schedule time for yourself this summer. relax sleep rejuvenateIt’s rare that you have free time, so when you do have it, use it for rejuvenation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shut the door behind the kids only to turn around to my quiet house to… fold laundry, do dishes, or pay bills. What!? No. Stop it. This will not give you the energy cushion your need to get over the summer hump. When you find free time, use it for you. Get to that yoga class, paint your toenails, go for a run, or (gasp!) take a nap. You heard me ladies: YOU ARE ALLOWED TO NAP. Do whatever is going to refill your cup, not continue to empty it.

Are we perfect mothers? No. Never will be. And that’s okay! “Balance” is a myth if it’s summer or not, and while we do love the family time, vacations, and oddly comforting chaos of summer, it’s okay to admit that it’s hard and we kind of hate it too. Luckily, if we reach out to our tribes, they will be there. And when they reach back we will tribe it right back to them!

Can you relate? Have you figured out some ways to take care of yourself this summer? Comment and share with THE tribe!

Top 5 Ways to Give Back-to-You During Back-to-School

We had a great response to our blog post “Does Back-to-School Mean Back-to-You?” and decided to compile the Top 5 list of ways to give back-to-you this Fall. Because you don’t have to be a parent to be affected by the season of routines and demands of others, this list is for anyone who feels they could use a little giving (getting) back to ourselves. In other words, it’s for you!

(1) Time with GirlfriendsCoffee time

Coffee, porch sittin’, walking… Whatever the activity, time with girlfriends topped the list! The rejuvenating quality of time with friends (one or several) is undeniable. It’s also easy to put off, so we agree that making it a priority is… well, a priority. Job and/or family obligations are the loudest things in our lives, so they often get the most attention, and we spend more time getting wound up, than winding down. There is science behind why women need a tribe and our time together is vital to our health, so putting girl time at the top of our list is a a must.

(2) Organizing

Closet cleaning, garage mucking, and drawer sorting may not sound like something we do for ourselves, but the overwhelming feedback is how satisfying it is to purge. We all know that the results feel great. Sure, it’s good to know we do not have to sort kids big/small and seasonal clothes, or donate that dress we haven’t worn since our girlfriend’s wedding 10 years ago when we were 2 sizes smaller and bubble skirts came back in style for a minute (but only a minute, thank goodness!). We’ll go on surviving the piles and crammed closets, but let’s be honest, we feel so much better when we’re not running around in the morning trying to find one blooming sock and our closet is so simple that choosing an outfit does not take up the bulk of the getting-ready process. In other words, it’s about us. Our time and our sanity. So, set aside an entire day or take it one drawer at a time, crank up the music or Audible book, grab a glass of iced tea or wine, and enjoy the purge!

(3) Healthy Habits

Getting up earlier, meditating, exercising, making time to read, eating healthier – all of these activities are on most people’s Good Habits Wish List, but how do we accomplish them? Like the (oh so many) other things about tribe, together is better. Having others to keep us accountable or who have the same goals so we can talk it through and get over the many humps (and mountains) that will arise along the way is key to healthier habits. Start a Facebook group, set specific days and times to meet for a walk or workout class, or simply send each other an encouraging or “I did it!” text. When we know that someone is waiting for or counting on us, we’re more likely to follow through on those promises to ourselves.

(4) Saying No (or yes-to-you, first)

We all know this moment: We’re asked to take on an extra work project, volunteer for a fundraiser, watch someone’s animal or child, and before we’ve even thought about it, we say “yes”. Then we think about it… “When will we find time?! What do I need to dump in order to do that?! No, I can’t dump that. I’ll just have to stay up later/work harder/cancel that thing I love and need to do for myself.” But it rarely crosses our mind to just say “no”, and we rarely back out once the “y” word has slipped out of our mouth. One tip, among the many that we heard, is to take a breath. Truly pause and listen to what is being asked of you, and feel no guilt in saying, “Thank you for thinking of me! I need to think about it/look at my schedule and get back to you later/tomorrow/next week.” Breathe. What a concept!

(5) Learn Something New

Web design, writing, painting, rock climbing, book club… We’ve heard some great ideas for feeding our minds, body and spirit by learning a new skill or art-form. This is something we can get behind! And, it doesn’t have to cost money to learn something new. Your curiosity can lead to something like Ponder Monster, a website our team member, Jen Adair (Slightly Tilted Life) has created with her kids. Or we can learn from each other by sharing our hobbies and passions with friends. What is on your “I’ve always wanted to…” list? We want to know! In the months to come, we’ll be exploring (and inviting you join in) different ways to tribe. We hope you’ll follow our (sometimes awkward) journey trying new things, and that you’ll laugh with (or at) us while we all learn and grow together! Stay tuned and get ready to share your stories of “how do you tribe?”

Whether school has started, or is about to, remember that you have more to give when there is more of you to give, so be sure to give back-to-you.