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Monday Mom challenge: Take back the summer schedule!

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...

Keep the fun in summer

How much do you look forward to summer? The slower pace, the free time to just enjoy -- all those things summer is supposed to be about. But how many summers have you had a mid-July realization that you are just as busy --- and sometimes busier! -- in the summer months than you are the rest of the year? With all that trying to cram “summer” into such a short window, suddenly that intended slow pace has sped up and you find yourself over-scheduled. Don’t let that happen this year.

woman-resting-in-hammock

More than one mom has looked at the summer calendar in June and realized both the personal and family schedules are completely packed right through Labor Day. Even if the items on the calendar are fun, do you feel tired looking at it as if summer is already over? If yes, then you've overscheduled your summer. Time to cancel some of those plans and take a new approach.

1Be realistic

Building up summer to be the apex of your year isn't fair to the season -- or to you or your family. Things -- life things -- happen in summer just as much as they happen in fall, winter and spring. Creating an unrealistic ideal of what summer is supposed to be makes it almost impossible to achieve. Instead of putting all your expectations on these few months, get realistic. Aim for enjoyment, but recognize it can't be perfect…unless summer were suddenly 12 months long and came with a winning lottery ticket and drama-free in-laws.

2Prioritize

Pick three to five of the most important things you want to do this summer and prioritize those activities in your family schedule. Do you want to have dinner at the beach one night a week? Or make sure you get to the amusement park at least twice? What about barbecues with friends and family? Put those prioritized items on the family calendar first. In ink.

3Schedule downtime

As much as you schedule priority activities, schedule downtime, too. Block off time in the family calendar for doing "nothing." Maybe "nothing" is laying in the hammock and reading a book or turning off the alarm clock and picking up pastries for breakfast the night before. Maybe it's consciously putting your smartphone in a drawer for a day and letting your child lead you through what he or she wants to do. Yes, for a whole day. As much as you schedule what needs to be done for life to keep plugging along, schedule time to do nothing at all.

4Say no as much as you say yes

Yeah, that night out with friends sounds terrific, and it would be fun -- but if you're tired from a day at the beach with the kids, it's okay to say no! In fact, say no to activities and events as much as you say yes. If the point of summer is relaxation, running from one activity to the next, as fun as they might be, is not relaxing. Protect the slower pace sense of summer and don't be a joiner if it's going to run you ragged.

If summer to you is a time for relaxation and being lazy, protect the summer schedule and make it so. Don't overschedule your summer -- and enjoy it more than ever.

More on time management

Mommy-tasking: How to find more time to spend with your kids
10 Get-organized tips for busy moms
10 Time management tips

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