Four more weeks ‘til summer vacation!!

As Memorial Day approaches, this is the anthem of kids everywhere engaging in the annual countdown to summer. Maybe you can remember anticipating summer break when you were a kid – envisioning sleeping late on long, warm days, lazing in front of the TV, or spending time at the beach or the mall hanging out with friends… As adults – and then as parents – of course, the fast approaching lazy days of summer look a little different than they used to. In contrast to our kids’ excitement, this time of year can evoke anxiety or even a full-fledged experience of stress. Many parents rely on the structure and accountability that school provides – both to keep our households running efficiently and to channel our kids’ seemingly endless storehouse of energy. Now free from the constraints of a predictable schedule, the inevitable question arises: What are we going to do this summer?

Having spent the last several years coaching parents to create more ease and harmony within themselves and their households, I have come to understand one of the most primary causes of stress – and, conversely, one of the most fundamental sources of ease and joy. Here it is in a nutshell: When our actions are out of alignment with our values, needs and desires, we experience stress. When our actions are in alignment with our values, needs and desires, we experience ease and happiness.

Some of us have fallen into the habit of recycling summer events and traditions year after year, even if those traditions no longer bring us joy. When your children were younger, for example, you might have relished long camping trips, week-long stays at Disneyworld or trips to visit grandparents or in-laws. But if these traditions now leave you (or your child) feeling bored, resistant, or flat-out fed up, this is an indication that it’s probably time to adjust your actions so they are more in alignment with your family as it exists right now. Look at it this way: We download new and improved apps for our phones; we update our hairstyles and wardrobes (hopefully : ); and we revise household guidelines based on our children’s increasing levels of maturity. Why should the way we choose to spend our summers be any different? Our plans must be allowed to grow along with us so they continue to reflect the growing needs of our family. Here is a back-to-basics exercise that I hope will support you in experiencing a little less stress and a little more joy in the days that lie ahead:

Step One: Take some time to reflect on the values that are most important to you and your family as it exists right now. Are you in need of quiet, quality time with primarily your nuclear family? Are you craving adventure? Are you in the mood for a reunion that includes extended family and friends? Identify the feelings that you’d like to experience in the upcoming three months, then ask yourself what kind of actions or events would be most likely to draw these feelings forth. As you get clear about what you desire, re-evaluate your plans in the context of what your family needs right now, and make sure that at least some of them reflect and strengthen those values.

Step Two: However you decide to spend your summer, commit to your decision fully. There is no sense in deciding to take a cross country trip to visit the grandparents if you are only going to resist it or resent it when the time actually comes. Likewise, if you are a working parent whose career requires you to stay involved, make peace with this situation within your own mind. It’s usually not the act of dividing our time between work and home that creates stress in us and in our households; it’s the fact that our own energy about doing so is convoluted.

You know the scenario: when you’re at the office, you feel guilty for not being home with the kids, and when you’re home with the kids, you’re mentally tracking the list of what you still have to do at the office. This sends our energy in two opposing directions, and keeps us from experiencing the joy available in both aspects of our lives. Instead, make the best decision you can for yourself and your family, and then get behind that decision 100%. The months ahead are bringing us an opportunity to become more intentional about what we want to experience. The clearer an intention we have at the outset, the more we bring our thoughts and feelings in alignment with that intention. Translation? Our clarity and enthusiasm naturally enrolls other family members in our plan – not begrudgingly, but joyfully.

Step Three: Given that the average child’s summer vacation is roughly twelve weeks long, I think a minimum of twelve “me” days is in order for every parent; days when no matter what, you get to do what you want. It’s up to you whether you take this time all at once – such as planning a weeklong getaway with your spouse or a group of friends – or whether to pepper them throughout the long summer. If you’re like most parents I coach, you probably have a stockpile of gift cards for massages, facials, nail treatments, and the like. Get them out and use them! Knowing that you have already built in some pampering time in the months ahead will support you in feeling more in charge of your own well-being.

When you stop think about it, modeling and teaching well being to our children is really what parenting is all about. Our joyful moods and peaceful minds communicate a powerful message that lives on in our children’s hearts and souls – that happiness is life’s first priority.

Author's Bio: 

Christy Whitman is the author of four books, including her bestseller, Perfect Pictures. She is also a professional speaker and a certified Law of Attraction Coach. Christy’s business, Personal Empowerment, specializes in helping people let go of resistance in order to create what they desire in their lives. Christy is also a featured speaker with The Learning Annex. She is the creator of For free special reports on the universal laws visit