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!

What doesn’t suck?

I am guilty of inflicting the, “That sucks” bug into my family. Apparently, for the last few years, when my kids would tell me a story about something that didn’t go their way, or another childhood problem, my response has been, “That sucks.” It has been my “go to” mom phrase. You know the one. We all have at least one. Yours may be: “That’s fine.” “Oh my!” “Uh-hugh.” “Sure.” “Oh Wow!” “No good.” “That’s too bad.” Or any other version you have said a gazillion times to the kids in your life.

Mine bit me in the butt a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like everything out of my children’s mouths was, “You know what sucks?” “You know what I think sucks?” “It sucks that…” “It sucks when…”

I thought I was going to crawl away from home and never return. It felt like a Dyson vacuum was sucking the will to live from my bone marrow. I couldn’t take it anymore. Where did this terrible frame of mind come from? What do my kids speak out loud about everything that sucks?

Then, my daughter came home and told me about how she couldn’t find her favorite pencil and I said, “That sucks.” I wanted to slap the words back into my mouth. So THAT’S where they have gotten it from! It’s all my fault! Holy fresh hell, how many times had they heard, “That sucks” in their very short lives?

Family council followed. I started the meeting with the question, “What doesn’t suck?” I am so tired of hearing about all of the things that suck, all of the crummy, unfortunate, sad, terrible, stories that make me want to stick my head underwater for 30 seconds just to drown out the sounds of all the sucky stories. I told my kids how that saying made me feel and asked them to start to think about the opposite of what sucks. I went so far as to write in chalk in our kitchen, “What doesn’t suck?” My kids’ friends have thought it is funny. They come over and read it out loud with a puzzled tone of voice. I make them tell me what doesn’t suck in their life. It has been like a reset button for a frame of mind I have unconsciously raised my children by the last few years.

So Tribe of Women…tell me please, if you will, What Doesn’t Suck?

 

 

As we hope you know, Tribe of Women wants to share the stories of women. Women of all ages and stages, from all walks… stories with happy endings and stories with endings that are difficult to share and accept. Even stories whose endings have not yet been realized. We are sharing this story from our friend Juliet, and we would love to share yours in this space as well!