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Monday Mom challenge: Don't overschedule summer

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Open to a change of plans

We plan. We organize. We schedule. We worry about everyone and everything being in place at any given time. But sometimes plans change -- often at the very last minute. It's not that we're control freaks (well, most of us, anyway), but we get used to that level of, well, control.

Family having ice cream

Letting go of schooltime scheduling and organization and being open to plans changing is difficult. Instead of seeing the opportunity that can come with those changes, we see screwed-up schedules and unfinished tasks. Now that summer's here, it's time to become more aware of our control-freak ways -- and learn to let go.

Recognition

The first step, of course, it to be aware of that need. Sure, some things must happen at exact times, but there's so much in summer that doesn't. Recognizing that you are getting too attached to the schedule -- that the world really won't end if dinner isn't at precisely 6:30 or whatever -- is a first step to really enjoying the season.

Are your kids overscheduled? Get the warning signs here.

Practice

It sounds weird: How do you practice being more open to change -- more unstructured? How do you plan to be un-planned?

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Look at your schedule and see where there's open time. Don't add anything. Set the time aside and let it unfold.

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When that unscheduled block begins, ask yourself and your kids, "What would we like to do?" Not have to do, not should do -- but want to do.

Is it going out for ice cream before dinner? Playing catch in the yard? Turning on some music and dancing? Something else? If it's a longer stretch of time, can you go to a museum or go play mini-golf? Go for an impromptu walk on the beach with friends? What is it?

After a few stints of this "practice," try opening yourself to bigger changes and possibilities. Are there plans that can change if something different comes up? How can you look beyond the plans?

Enjoyment

For those of us who feel comfort in routine, letting go and being open to changes and new things can be a little scary. But it can also open up new worlds of experience. Summer is a great time to practice this openness -- and really enjoy what summer and a break from the regular can bring.

More of our Monday Mom challenge series:

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