Surviving the summer is not how I want to view this period, but it’s how I feel today.
I love the summer, you see. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love the sunshine. Having just spent a wonderfully relaxing week in sunny Menorca, I’m reminded of how much the warmth and light melts away my stresses and anxieties, revealing a great version of me. I love wearing as few clothes as possible and walking around in flip flops. I love leaving the to do list at home and rediscovering what it is to be carefree.
Summer is good for me. It’s partly medical. I have issues with Seasonally Affective Disorder and Vitamin D deficiency. I dread the cold and the dark. All these years into being me and I still haven’t found a way to successfully navigate my way through the winter months with my mental health intact. We’ll come to that soon enough. September is only just around the corner and it’s downhill from then on.
So the summer should be my best time. ‘Surviving the summer’ should not be a phrase in my vocabulary. The six week holidays have a different feel from any other time of the year. With teenagers in the house, my world is still ruled by school term dates. The kids are different beings too, running on a different agenda, with nowhere to be and nothing to do. No nagging to get up or get homework done. There’s definitely a more relaxed vibe in my home. Even for those of you who are not directly affected by the school holidays, there’s a knock on effect. Routines change. The commute into work is easier without the school run traffic. More work colleagues are taking annual leave and there’s the disruption that causes.
A change of routine can be a good thing. You take a step back from your normal schedule and catch a breath. There’s the opportunity to slow down a little, enjoy long, lazy days and take on some adventures…
And then there’s work. That has to be fitted in too. It becomes a real juggling act, trying to maintain that relaxed vibe while still rushing to meet deadlines. And all the good habits that form part of your everyday routine – nutrition, exercise, a meditation practice – when the schedule changes, these things can become less disciplined too, in my experience.
And so surviving the summer becomes a balancing act, calling on the wisdom to allow myself to be kind to myself and relax a little, whilst still being good to myself. Knowing what being kind to myself looks like: allowing myself an ice cream a day without feeling guilty, but not slipping into a full on sugar blow out. For example. Some moments of some days, I find myself yearning for the beginning of September so I can return to normal and get back on track. But that makes me sad, because I know how much I look forward to this time all year round and how precious it is.
I actually need to relax and let go a little more. Stop ruining the moment by over-thinking it. Enjoy what each day brings. Do my best and know that that is all that I can do. Today, I am on the train down to London, tapping away on my laptop with the sun on my face, having left the kids at home well supervised and entertained. I don’t need to be concerned about them. They are in good hands. And tomorrow, I have a full day out with the kids planned. And I won’t need to worry about work, because that can wait another day.
Each day brings new challenges and joys and adventures. I’m determined not to see this season as surviving the summer. Savouring the summer, that’s what I’m aiming for. Practising gratitude for all the small things. Not allowing the difficulties to become such big things that they overshadow the rest.
This is a season. This too will pass.
For that reason, I’m determined to make the most of it while it lasts.