Health & Well Being

Episode #344 – Design Your Ideal Summer: A Vision & Plan for Working Moms

May 28, 2024

I’m Cherylanne.
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Get ready for the best summer of your life! In today’s episode, we’re helping you design a summer that works for working moms. Cherylanne will guide you through envisioning a season that blends the joy of carefree leisure time with the rhythm of your career.

Explore how you might adjust your schedule (our outlook) for maximum fun and fulfillment without sacrificing your professional goals. Learn practical steps for turning your ideal summer into reality and making every moment count.

Join us to ensure your summer is as vibrant and productive as you are!

Show Highlights:

  • Does the rhythm of your household change in summer? 01:46
  • Are you ready to gain summer freedom by seizing opportunities? 02:41
  • Waiting for somebody else’s permission won’t help. 05:52
  • Discover the importance of dreaming up a big vision. 07:29
  • This is why you must access your current schedule. 09:46
  • Here is how you can pick your priorities right. 10:51
  • Do you have flexibility in your action plan? 13:13
  • How does collaboration help avoid conflict? 16:32

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So here we are. It is almost summer—not officially yet, for the purists in the audience. There are a few more weeks before the official start of summer, but it feels like summer because many of us are approaching the end of the school year. If you have children at home, you know that everything is about to change. You’re surviving what I refer to as December; you’ve gotten through all the added activities, or you’re almost to the finish line. Now you know that the rhythm of the household is going to shift. The kids will be waking up later, staying up later, asking to have friends over, going to camps, engaging in activities, getting summer jobs—just the entire rhythm of the household changes. And yes, blessedly, no homework, right? Fewer evening activities that we need to transport them to, but everything about the rhythm of the household changes.

Maybe you’re like me, and that conjures up a little bit of jealousy toward your own children. How could we possibly be jealous of our own children? But when I started to watch them every year have this big dose of freedom coming their way, knowing their whole world was going to look different—they’re gleefully throwing away notebooks from the year, turning books back in, saying, “I’m done with this backpack, I’m never going to see this thing again”—it’s a complete load off their shoulders and a fresh start. We’re like, where’s my turn to do that? They start plotting all of these summer bucket lists and things they’re going to do, and I was thinking, where’s mine? I’m going to continue to go to work throughout the summer. At some point, it became clear to me that I actually did have the opportunity to do things a little bit differently in the summer, or in some cases a lot differently, and I wasn’t taking full advantage of it.

Rather than watching them do everything differently and me adhering to the same schedule—getting up just as early, working out at the same time, going to bed at the same time, maintaining the same schedule for no real reason—I realized I had the opportunity to do things differently too. This is an idea that I’ve passed on to many clients over the years with great success. We pause around this time of year and ask, what do we really want this summer to look like for you? What’s your vision, and how does that vision fit you and your family?

If that’s not something you’ve done with intention before, I think this is a great year to start. I’ll give you a couple of watch-outs about this process, and then I’ll take you through the actual process of how you design the vision and live it out throughout the summer. But before I get into the how-to, I want to give you a couple of watch-outs that I see trip people up, and they certainly tripped me up when I was first testing the waters on this.

The first one is all-or-nothing thinking. Raise your hand if when you heard me say establish a vision, you thought, great, I’ll take the whole summer off, please. I’ll just be done when they’re done and won’t go back until Labor Day. That falls under the umbrella of all-or-nothing thinking. It’s very normal to dream about taking the whole summer off, but it falls into that camp of all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking. If you think to yourself, well, if I can’t take the whole summer off, what’s the point? The reality is there is so much middle ground available here to craft a plan where the summer looks and feels different enough that you get to take advantage of the rhythm. One of the things we love about summer is it helps anchor the year. We have four seasons, and summer is one of them. It gives us that point where every year when another summer begins, we mark the passage of time. If it blurs into all the other seasons and activities we do, we lose that ability to mark time. So, we want to find middle ground and avoid all-or-nothing thinking.

The second watch-out is feeling like you need permission. Many of my listeners are grown-up rule followers. We grew up following the rules, and we might look for someone to give us permission to do something differently, missing the memo that we actually hold all the cards and can do things differently. So, if you temper all-or-nothing thinking, you probably cannot just say, I’m not going to work this summer. Although, if you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, there’s a possibility—you might take a sabbatical or work a very different schedule. But if we’re waiting for someone to give us permission, that is probably not going to happen. This is the kind of shift that we initiate; it doesn’t get initiated for us. So, watch out for permission-seeking.

The third watch-out is our hustle addiction—our propensity to stay busy all the time. If your normal mode is to be out in the world running full speed ahead, anything less than that is not going to feel right to you. You might feel like you’re doing it wrong, even though you have permission, set it up intentionally, and made it flexible. So, we’re going to watch out for all-or-nothing thinking, our tendency to wait for permission, and misdiagnosing things as wrong.

If you are interested in having your summer look different than the rest of your year or the last season, I’m going to walk you through the steps. This is a process you can follow. Just listen along today, let yourself dream and imagine, and execute when you can sit down and think it through by yourself or with your family.

The first step is the most fun part: dream up a big vision. Start by imagining your ideal summer or your perfect summer. You can take yourself to the extreme and ask, what would it really look like if I could design it ideally? Think about what activities you want to do with your kids, what activities you might want to do on your own. Are there projects you want to tackle that you haven’t been able to during the year? Is there a personal goal you want to achieve over the summer? Are there experiences you really want to have—something that just spells summer to you? Think about the imagery and senses that come to mind: water, boats, beaches, lakes, mountains, your own back patio or porch where you’re entertaining people. What is the imagery that comes to mind? You might see quieter things like a slower morning routine, where you hear the birds singing and get out for a walk or cup of coffee before the heat of the day. Maybe it’s an evening walk. Maybe you prioritize your own self-care. Paint a detailed mental picture of your ideal summer and dream up a big vision. I purposefully didn’t include work in that imagery; I’m really focused on the enjoyment of the season, both with and without your family.

The second step is to assess your current schedule. You have the big vision; now look at your actual life. Take a close look at your existing commitments, what’s on your calendar, the routines—what are the things you have implicitly or explicitly agreed to do? What aligns with your vision, and what might need to change? Look at your work schedule, the kids’ activity schedule, and family obligations. See how the elements of your vision align with this current schedule. If you’re like me, you’ll find it doesn’t all fit. Hopefully, you’ll have a bigger vision with more things you want to do than you can fit.

The third step is to pick your priorities. Once you have that big, unfiltered vision and a clear understanding of your current situation, try to blend them by choosing priorities. What in that vision matters the most? Maybe you really want a 10-day vacation where you fully check out from work. Alternatively, maybe you want a long weekend every weekend of the summer, taking every Friday or Monday off. There are different degrees of flexibility you can negotiate or exercise, depending on your job. As a business owner, I have a lot of discretion over my schedule, but in a corporation, I have less. So, you have to work within your organization’s parameters, choosing priorities that fit inside those parameters.

If you’re in a less flexible job, with fixed hours, your summer vision has to fit into mornings, evenings, and days off. If you have scheduling flexibility, you can choose priorities that blur into the week. Create a flexible plan—emphasis on flexibility. Your plan for the summer schedule should reflect your priorities and leave room for spontaneity. Build in family activities you already know about, make sure there’s time for personal downtime, block out vacations, and create a starting point for your summer schedule.

Within my coaching clients, we talk about this as the ideal week. For your case, expand the ideal week to the whole summer. What does my schedule look like? A couple of things that usually make it onto mine during the summer: I stay up later and sleep later than during the school year. It’s not a giant shift, but because I don’t have to get the kids out to school at a certain time and they stay up later, my whole schedule shifts forward. Another change is I take shorter days during the week to do things with them. Candidly, my kids are 13, 16, and 19—they don’t want to do as many things with me now as they did when they were younger. But when I wanted to take them to the pool, amusement park, or zoo, I needed that extra time. So, I had several days a week that ended early or started later.

Design your schedule to be ideal for you on a week-by-week basis and across the whole summer, peppering in activities you want to do. This is where you bring in other people. Communicate with your family and colleagues. The vision will likely not happen if it doesn’t get shared. Get input from your family and colleagues. In a traditional corporate job, if you can get a summer Friday schedule—working from home, shorter days—get permission early, making it happen smoothly. Collaborate on the plan.

The fifth and final step is embracing the season. Implement your plan with intention and flexibility, and fully embrace the season. Accept that things will not always go as planned. Unexpected things will come up, there will be days when it rains when you were planning to do something outside. If you have some flexibility in your calendar, it’s easier to pivot. Know that you created the plan, and you get to update it if something’s not working. If you thought you wanted lots of downtime and it turns out you want to be out and about more, go ahead and change it. Or vice versa—if you packed in activities and now you want to be home more, you get to change it.

Don’t let the pursuit of perfection prevent you from enjoying the summer. The goal is not to have a flawless summer. The goal is to have a meaningful one, enjoy the season, and create memories. It’s one of the natural rhythms of our year. Enjoy the benefits of summer by adopting a slower, more mindful pace. Have some intentionality and creativity, and you can create a meaningful summer experience for you and your family.

If you have questions or comments about creating your summer vision, drop me a note. I’m always interested to see how these plans work for people. Share what’s working for you and what’s not.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the rest of your week. Take a few minutes to get started on your summer vision. You will love the results. Until next time, have a great day.

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