For most students, summer vacation is in full swing. At this point, routines have been established, and both parents and kids pretty much know what each day will bring. If you are a parent with school-aged children, you know exactly what I mean. At the time of this blog post, we’re right in the heart of summer—a perfect place to be for reviewing the goals we had before the season began!
One big goal for my summers over the years has always been to find time to relax, renew, and really slow down the pace of life. But, more important, it has been to find time to relax with my daughter, Michelle, and my husband, Dick. Of course relaxing and spending time with my daughter and husband are things I do all year long, but there is something magical about time spent with our children, families, and close friends on a warm summer day in nature. Just the word “summer” for me has always meant really slow down and “be” with those you love!
For many with children, summer comes to an end quickly and the new school year soon begins. Although we all know how fleeting summer can feel, there’s still plenty of time left this summer to get outdoors for a day of relaxation at the beach, park, mountains, lake, or pool.
In summer, we are somehow able to place everyday concerns on the backburner from time to time, so take this excellent opportunity to practice Focused Attention, the Living Present part of The Practice. Giving your kids your focused attention has the potential to deepen your bonds, nourish your hearts, and create lasting memories. When you set this intention of really being here and now, there are only two things you need to do to practice focused attention:
- Focus your mind on what is happening in the moment. (Keep the smartphone and tablet tucked away.) I know this can be difficult in all areas of life, but make it a goal to really be in the moment when you are with your children. For example, during a conversation, at an event, or even driving in the car, just be totally in the moment with them, making every ordinary moment of your day extraordinary.
- Use all of your five senses. See, hear, taste, smell, and feel the experience of being with your children. Really “see” them when you are having a conversation; listen to them completely, not allowing your mind to wander to something else; taste your meals together, savoring each bite and not rushing through the mealtime; smell the ocean breeze or the freshly cut lawn; take your shoes off and stand barefoot in the grass, the sand, or the shallow water, and feel yourselves grounding into this beautiful planet Earth. In this way, you are teaching your children the value of being here and now completely!
This summer Michelle and I had the extraordinary opportunity to spend time together during my book tour for The Practice: Simple Tools for Managing Stress, Finding Inner Peace, and Uncovering Happiness. From one location to the next—over fifteen in all—we landed, rented a car, and ventured out into many new cities together, completely present for this amazing time in our lives.
Michelle programed the directions to our destinations into her phone and easily got us to the bookstores, radio spots, and television programs that were planned. We laughed in Scottsdale when the phone told us, You have reached the drivable part of your destination. Please park the car and walk the rest of the way! It was 9:30 pm and very dark! Michelle said to the lady, “That’s not possible!” With laughter in our hearts, we realized we were talking to a machine. So taking matters into our own hands, we drove one more block, and there was our hotel!
Many people have asked me which city and which bookstore signing were the favorites. I say all of them were my favorite because Michelle and I enjoyed every single minute of every talk and book signing. Really practicing being present in the moment during this once-in-a-lifetime trip with my daughter gave me deep, beautiful memories that will always be with me.
When we can show up for our lives and be in the moment completely, the sun brightens our days and the beautiful memories we make brighten our lives. Whether we are young or old, there’s a wonderful sense of freedom I think we all feel in the summer. What have you done this summer to enrich your relationship with your children or with your friends and other loved ones? What is still on your “to-relax” or “to-do” list this summer? I would love to hear your stories!