Family,  Working Moms

How Working Moms Can Use Summer to Build Family Traditions

I live for summer. I love the long days, the early sun, the warm weather, picnic dinners on the beach, BBQ’s with friends, swimming and the easy breezy vibe that seems to come with the season. 
I am an early riser so I find waking up in the cold, dark and often rainy (I live on the west coast) morning tough. Really tough.  I push myself to get up, but it is a struggle. I wait for the days when I get to wake up and the sun is already out. I get up, open every single blind in the house (a habit I inherited from my dad) and take every opportunity to have my morning coffee out in the sun.
Dinner on the beach

I am also a water girl. So, summer is my time. I have a tough time resisting jumping in to a body of water if there is one in front of me. I am trying to pass this on to my daughters with some success. I go for an early morning (like 6:45am early) swim on Saturdays with my friend. This is one of the highlights of my week. We started doing this in April. That first swim, even with full wet suits, was COLD! Still amazing and exhilarating, but cold. But our summer Saturday swims?  Glorious sunshine. We could almost (almost) ditch the wetsuits. We swim out to the middle of the lake where the sun comes through the tress right on to the water. Truly beautiful. It is pretty easy to forget your troubles out in the middle of the water like that. I look forward to day when my girls are strong enough swimmers to do this swim with me. 

Warming up by the fire after their first surf lesson

For me, summer is all about creating memories and traditions with my family and friends.  For working moms (and dads) summer can be a bit tricky to navigate. We have to put extra effort in to balance work and play. Even if we are tired after a long day at work, or the girls are grumpy from being at camp, we try to have a picnic or BBQ dinner down at the beach at least a few nights a week. We pack a few games to play like Spike Ball or Bocce and then usually finish our dinners with a quick swim in the ocean. My girls love this tradition. Even on the days when the weather is less than ideal (like last night when it was windy and a bit chilly) they still insist on going in the water because “this is what we do!” Yes! This is exactly what I am trying to accomplish. I am all about creating memories and traditions with my family. 

Making one of their famous camping ‘potions’

We also do a lot of camping and hiking. I know sometimes my family grumbles that I am ‘dragging them’ out on another hike- but once we are out there everything shifts. Even if we leave the house grouchy and grumbling, there is something about being out in the woods together that seems to change that. Don’t get me wrong, it is not always perfect. Not even close. On a recent short one-hour hike, I got us lost for 3 1/2 hours…oops. There was some complaining that day and even my best efforts of telling them how this would build resiliency and character proved unsuccessful. But what do you think they talked about for the next few weeks?  And let me add, this was talked about with pride, about the ‘epic’ hike. I am sure as the years pass they will retell it about the time mom got us lost for 6 hours.

The sister love in this one. Heart melting

We also love camping. I used to have an old VW van that I miss tremendously (so do the kids!), but we are trying to make do by going old school with a tent. These memories of hiding out in the tent to get away from the rain, sitting by the fire staying up too late roasting marshmallows and the early morning smell of coffee, campfire and bacon. For me, nothing beats this. I know this is not everyone’s idea of a good time, and it does not have to be. My point is, there is something about summer that lets us working moms hang out with our friends and family in a way that we often don’t get to the rest of the year. 

The old VW Bus
Relationship expert Dr. John Gottman talks about the importance of creating shared meaning. I have tried to foster a sense of ‘this is our family and this is what we are about’. I hope when my girls are older they will, above all else, remember these memories and traditions. We have a lot going on in our house that is not always easy. Sometimes (okay often) there is yelling, fighting, impatience, rushing, unkind words… you get the idea. So, I really do try hard (even when I am tired and sometimes don’t even feel like it) to get out and do these things with my family that bring us back together again and remind us that we are a team, we love each other, and that we have a lot of fun together even with the other stuff that can happen in a home as a result of stressful day to day living. 
Me and my Lucy on a glorious summer day
Here are some of my summertime must haves
       1.    A light beach BBQ. We have this one.
       2.    Games to bring to the beach and camping. This is one of our favourites right now.
       3.    Good quality sunscreen. This is one of the only sunscreens I will use on my face.
       4.    A lightweight easy to dry beach blanket. I have one similar to this.
       5.    A cooler bag for picnics and BBQs.
       6.    A beach bag for towels, water, snacks and extra clothes. My sister bought me this one years ago and it is still my go to. Unfortunately, I don’t think they make it any more. 
       7.    Beach chairs- make sure they have cupholders!
       8.    Good quality stainless steel water bottles
       9.    A go to beach outfit. Mine is usually jean shorts, t-shirt and long sleeve shirt. I usually also have my swimsuit, a comfy pair of loose baggy pants (I get this pair every few years) and a sweatshirt for after my swim or when it gets a bit chilly.  
1    10. Easy to grab and go snacks. This usually includes Costco tuna and cracker snacks, a bag of mixed nuts and dry fruit, chips of some sort because it is summer so why not, and granola bars.  
Bonus: Summertime tunes! Nothing makes a road trip better than your summer playlist.
My little Zoe. The essence of summer right here

Would love to hear about some of your summer must haves too!


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Your summertime sister,


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