As Ella Fitzgerald crooned in that buttery-glam voice of hers, “It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” Summer is that much-awaited gentle exhale. The jam-packed school year is behind us, and now we can slow down and melt into the hot, schedule-free days of summertime.
But, let’s be honest, when everyone’s home and structure is out the window, family time can sometimes become a battlefield of whining, fighting, complaining, and whimpers of boredom. When the snarls and sneers and grumbling begins, we as moms have to dig deep for patience, remember that we actually love these people, and most importantly, Practice the Pause.
The Pause is taking that deep breath before we react. It’s taking a minute to walk away and gather our thoughts before we implode and say something that will cause harm or cause the situation to escalate. It’s taking a step back to remember the end game, the goal of creating a summer full of good memories and easy livin’.
Instead of screaming at our kids when they won’t listen, practice the pause and find that calm, but firm, voice to emphasize the importance of listening and following through. They’re more likely to listen to a voice of reason than a red-faced, imploding psychopath.
Instead of throttling them when they proclaim their boredom, take a deep breath and let them know that it’s actually okay to be bored. If you’re feeling resourceful, here are some ideas for banishing boredom.
Instead of throwing their iPads and gaming systems into the river, practice the pause and come up with a system to set some limits. (This is a hot button issue, as studies have indicated screen time is the #1 source of mom guilt).
Instead of picking a fight or adding fuel to the fire, resist the urge to make that snarky comment to your husband or partner. Remember that whatever energy we put out there will inevitably flow right back to us. Karma is a real thing.
We can even practice the pause at work. Instead of sending that angry e-mail or confronting a colleague in the heat of the moment, we can stop and collect ourselves before we say things that we cannot stuff back into our mouths.
Instead of anger and frustration, let’s consciously practice patience and kindness. Instead of control and possessiveness, let’s practice letting our kids (and everyone else) be who they are called to be. Let’s take their hands and lead with love, even when they’re at their most exasperating.
I’m not saying this is easy. It’s not. Whether you have a tantrum-y toddler or sulky tween/teen, it’s easier to just get mad and boil over with seething frustration. But the aftermath of rage is always regret and hurt-filled little eyes.
There’s magic in the pause because we’re wrangling the beast and setting the tone. The goal is chill, happy, sun in the face and wind in the hair. It’s summer, after all. Let’s slow down, take a breath, and keep the peace.