I remember the days of relaxing summers, filled with bike rides to the beach, hand-churned ice cream, pitchers of beer on a patio, and naps by the pool. Summer was about sun-kissed skin, a lose schedule, a lean body from playing outdoors, and beating the heat by lounging in front of a fan with a book.
Then I became a mom.
Summers now mean I have have my beloved children with me all day, every day. Well, let me correct that. If they’re not with me, then I’m driving them somewhere, handing them a wad of cash, and picking them up later. Or I have my kids plus a handful of other kids and I’m consistently feeding and hydrating them. All of this to the blaring tune of top 40 radio. As if my nerves weren’t tweaked enough.
Sunscreen. Camp. Road trips. Costco. Bug bites. Disney Channel. Boredom. Pink eye. Wet floors. I’m hungry. My hair is tangled. I can’t find my bathing suit bottoms. He’s annoying me. I’m hungry. My eyes sting. I don’t like how sand feels on my feet. It’s my turn. I don’t “need” to do summer reading. I’m hungry.
Working mom, at-home mom…it doesn’t matter. Summer is exhausting. My bank account, my energy levels, and my patience are drained come Labor Day. Summer is a very yang season: it’s hot, active, sunny, and extroverted. Living in a yang space for a long period of time can lead to burn out. And burnt out is pretty much how I tend to feel when it’s time for my kids to go back to school.
These are the dog days of summer. What this says to me, along with the turn of the calendar to September, is fall is right around the corner! Yes! Fall is a much more yin season than summer. Temperatures cool, trees begin to shed their dried up leaves, days get a little shorter, and we slip in to a comfortable routine. Fall is the time of harvest–the season to reap the benefits of what we’ve sown. A season where we begin to go within and get grounded again. It’s time to start replenishing ourselves after the yang of summer. Self-care for moms is essential right now.
Go ahead and book yourself a massage. Sign up for a yoga workshop. Read a book by the deserted pool without needing to adjust anyone’s goggles. It’s okay! It’s more than okay–it’s completely necessary. It’s time to bring some balance back in to your system–there’s no entitlement and there are no excuses. As mothers it is our calling to give–and we give and give–but it needs to become part of our calling to receive and restore as well.
Our children learn about how to be themselves by our example. We don’t want to raise self-sacrificing daughters. We don’t want to raise sons who expect the women in their lives to surrender all of themselves to the beautiful art of motherhood. Nurture yourself–be gentle, be kind, and treat yourself with love! Replenish your body with mindful meals and clean water. Bring back date night to refreshen your relationship. Take long walks in nature to recalibrate your personal energy to that of the Earth. And congratulate yourself for making through another long summer helping your kids to build memories that they can draw on when they’re trying to pull a swim diaper on chubby wet toddler legs. And show them the example of self-care not as a privilege, but as a practice.