They’re wild when they get out of school.
Are yours wild too?
One is bouncing, literally bouncing up and down, as we walk home. The other is grumpy-happy, this weird combo of happy to be out of school and free of the pressure to be polite and cool and smart and collected, but also grumpy—overexerted from six hours of good behavior and just plain ready for an after-school snack.
The youngest demands to wear her brother’s backpack and tells me to carry her fairy wand.
The middle kid wants to tell me about the mint brownies the class got for so-and-so’s birthday.
And the oldest is asking if he can check his email (I know!) when we get home.
It’s a lot to process all at once, and I often find that the short walk from school to home taxes me more than it reasonably should.
Despite all the self-talk I did on the way *to* school pickup (“they’re good kids, Erica,” “you love them,” “you can do this; you can be present”), I hear my voice getting short with them as we enter the house and experience the usual explosion of shoes and backpacks and lunch boxes that all need emptied and put away.
“Trenton, don’t leave your shoes on the stairs!”
“Boys, wash your hands!”
“Chase, did you flush the toilet?”
Quinn erupts into tears over who-knows-what. (Actually, I think it’s because she wants candy and I said no.)
She forlornly wanders away and returns with her blanket, pulling it to the couch. Before she can sit, Trenton slips under her, deftly pulling her into his lap, talking soothingly to her.
It stops me in my tracks. A tender, unexpected moment in the middle of the bustle and noise.
Summer break is upon us. As much as I’m looking forward to a respite from the morning routine and the afternoon homework crunching, the chaos like I described above will quadruple in quantity.
For most of us, more children at home means more sibling fights to mediate, more moods to navigate, more meals and snacks to dispense. Which means…
We have to look for the good to find it.
The little moments that happen right in the middle of the chaos—those are what I want to fill my summer with.
Sure, I can do my best to create these moments. I can take them to the beach and launch a ball into the waves, hoping a big swell will bring it back to us and laughing with my kids as they chase it down when one finally does.
I can plan lazy library trips, where I’m not in a hurry to get in and out but instead am willing to pull up a chair and read. (Oh and re-shelve a LOT of pulled-out books.) 🙂
I can spend time with them in the garden—and instead of fixating on what needs to get done, I can hunt for ladybugs with them.
I can do all of this to facilitate the memories I want to carry with me away from this summer, away from my children’s childhoods.
But so often the most precious moments of motherhood sneak up on you when you haven’t prepared for them.
Like when an older sibling pulls a younger sibling in when she’s sad.
Or when your kids refer to themselves as a team while you’re making them clean windows, and it strikes you with sudden clarity how lucky they are to have each other and how lucky you are to have them.
Summer is part shaping your environment to create the magic and part keeping your eyes open just to see it. Because you never know when it’ll come.
3 Practices to Help You Look for Joyful Moments in the Middle of Summer Chaos
1. Recount them to someone.
There’s so much power in voicing the good you see each day. Try sharing your joyful moments each night with your spouse or each time you talk to your mom. Positivity fuels positivity.
2. Write them down—as they occur or at the end of each day.
If you’re really trying to recognize the unsung but beautiful moments, keep a notebook handy to record them in almost real time. This way very few of those moments slip through the cracks, like they might if you wait a whole day to think about them.
But if that frequency isn’t in the cards right now (I mean, it’s summer—we’ve got our hands full!), try it at night. It’s a form of a gratitude journal, with more of a focus on moments (not just concepts) that captured your heart.
3. Keep your camera within reach.
The world is so beautiful through a camera lens. Weather you’re pulling out your phone or toting around a DSLR, use this tool to help you shift your perspective and find the joy in the middle of the chaos.
“Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention. What you attend to drives your behavior and it determines your happiness.” Paul Dolan, Happiness by Design