How many of us head into the fall with summer guilt from all of the didn’t-dos? We start our summer vacation making to-do lists that include projects we will catch up on, exercise schedules to keep, day trips to the zoo, and freezer meals to make ahead of time for the fall. We make our summer bucket lists, and we intend on having the best vacations with perfectly clean houses when we return.
Well, just like any season in motherhood, life can take its toll and doesn’t always go the way we hoped. For me, this happens every single summer vacation because I set the bar too high. I add all the things I could possibly accomplish to my to-do list, and then I resent it, because some days I just want to rest.
Don’t get me wrong, I love summer. I love all that it brings, the BBQs, the sprinklers, the ice cream, and the last-minute plans to have fun in the sun. However, as we let go of summer I find myself cringing over all the things I didn’t get done. Maybe you are like me when you realize that your garage still cluttered, a room still needs to be painted, your clothes are still a little too tight, you didn’t travel to all of the places you had hoped, and the list goes on.
Instead of holding on to summer guilt, let it go, and focus on these five things instead:
Reflect on what you did.
Summer is nearly three months long, and it is easy to forget the fun things that happened when it first started. I can hardly remember what we had for dinner two nights ago! Take a few minutes to remember and ask your kids what they loved. You might be surprised what they found fun and memorable. Let go of your summer guilt from not doing more.
Acknowledge that you needed rest.
Not just you, but your kids too. School routines can be hard, demanding and exhausting. Running out the door every morning to school and then off to sports or music lessons can take its toll on the entire family. This is also true during the summer. Give your family rest and know that it is okay to have pajama days or afternoons of quiet. Let go of your summer guilt from not pushing yourself.
Remember that life isn’t about to-do lists.
I sure do love to make lists. Oh, how I love them. They help me breathe deeper, and don’t get me started on pens and paper choices! But the reality is that life is about so much more than what is on those lists. Life is about the sweet prayers you have with your kids before bed, or the cup of tea you shared with your daughter on the sunny porch in the afternoon. Motherhood is about watching your kids play outside and being excited when they find their new favorite rock. Let go of your summer guilt from the STILL-to-do list items.
Relish in the go-with-the-flow attitude.
Sometimes we have too many things on the calendar, and we need to have a quiet movie night at home instead of packing up blankets and flashlights to head to the neighborhood movie in the park. Sometimes our kids want to continue with one activity and it means letting go of what you had planned. Sometimes our kids puke all over the car and we spend our day cleaning it up and taking care of them instead of the going to the lunch date we had planned. Let go of your summer guilt from what could have been.
You can’t predict the future.
You can plan and hope for seasons in life to go as you hope, but then the unexpected happens. Some of us have lived in poor health this summer, dealt with loss, death, and hurt. As in all seasons of life, tragedy can happen and bumps in the road can be hard to get around. Let go of your summer guilt from days that didn’t go as planned.
Let go of all that pesky summer guilt. Look ahead into the fall and feel joy because you survived a summer in whatever stage of motherhood you are in and accept it for what it was!