Well, it’s officially summer now that my kids are out of school.  This is a mixed blessing.  On the one hand, I’m so excited to have them around because I miss them when they are gone all day.  They’re so busy.  Plus, the activity schedule can be pretty punishing during the school year with very early mornings and running around late into the evenings.

On the other hand, the school year provides me with many uninterrupted hours to work, and I truly love my work.  The schedule has nice boundaries built into it.  Once my sons leave for school in the morning, I work.  When they return, I don’t.

Now that it is summer, the boundaries don’t exist unless I put them in place.  It becomes all about balance.  I want to enjoy my time with the kids while simultaneously keeping both my clients and my projects moving forward.

Here’s why it is so important for me to tackle this proactively.  If I don’t set up very specific time blocks, my whole day will be spent trying to get things done while I am constantly interrupted.  The result being that it will take me twice as long to check things off my list.  I’ll never get to spend quality time with my boys, because I’m inefficient and unproductive when I’m supposed to be working.

This is how I approach it (and really how I approach daily planning all year long).

Question One: What type of time blocks do we need?

This summer, we need a work block, a fun block, and a lazy block.

Question Two: What does each block look like?

During the work block, I’m meeting with clients and working on projects.  But here is the most important question I have to ask myself (a great one for leaders everywhere to be asking about their team members).

During MY productive time, what are my kids doing?

If I just disappear into my office to work and leave everyone to have a free-for-all, my house will be a disaster and there goes our fun block (and fun mom).  To ensure that I am not interrupted, it is important that they are accomplishing the tasks they are responsible for during that same time: personal care, chores, summer projects, etc…

I’m a big believer in having those tasks written out just like my own list of daily to-dos. I don’t want to babysit them.  They need to learn to be self-reliant and self-motivated.

Some things never change from day to day, and those are always posted (all year).  This is how we handle other items.  I have a big transportable white board.  We brainstorm what has to be done (i.e. mom tells them what has to be done…hahahahaha) and write it all on the board.  Then, they divide up the tasks and keep track of it while I quietly exit to tackle my own list.  As long as jobs are consistently completed to my standards, finishing early is rewarded with technology time.

By the end of the work block, we are all feeling that satisfaction of getting things done and now it’s time to play!

Each summer we make a list of fun things we want to do together…pool, library, movies we want to see, events around town, etc…  One-by-one we check those off all summer long.

You are probably asking yourself, “What about the lazy block, Stacy?”  Here’s the deal with that.  Even though I am a firm believer in having goals, growing, and being productive, I also believe in downtime (technology-free).  My kids are super busy during the school year.  That is just the nature of raising kids in this age with all of the options for activities they want to participate in.  That’s fine.

But the summer is for being a little lazy.  For laying around reading, for dragging out games we forgot we had, for building every Lego set we own, for having a contest to see who makes the best paper airplane, for the ongoing water balloon war they’ve had for many summers in a row…  The best part is that when they get really bored, my sons either start to invent hilarious games I can never figure out the rules to or roll around like puppies with each other.  It is my absolute favorite.

Summer goes by way too fast and the summers ahead of me with my boys all here are becoming limited.  I want to enjoy every minute and live in every moment.  And the ironic side of that is how helpful it is to have a plan.

Cheers to summer!!