Doing it your way

When making summer plans, take into account your family’s rhythms, and most of all, be kind to yourselves

You’re just getting up; a little bleary eyed.

The kids aren’t up yet, and this is the perfect moment for that first cup of coffee. You happen to glance outside the kitchen window as you pour your cup and see that your neighbours are already dressed and heading out for a bike ride.

“How do they do it?” you ask yourself. “And they’ve got a three-year-old!” You chastise yourself for getting to bed too late; for letting the kids sleep in, for not being a better parent now that the weather is good and that “we should be taking advantage and be outside as much as possible…”

Hold it right there. Before you judge yourself, it is important to know one key factor about you and your family, and other families for that matter. It’s called rhythm. Once you have a sense and understanding of the rhythm that runs your family, then making the most of summer and all its activities becomes naturally easier.

Getting back to the neighbours who are out for their bike ride with kids in tow while you are still in your pajamas. It may give you a sense of guilt—or not—but the situation is a perfect example of dramatically different family rhythms. The former, an early-rise household, has the cadence and energy to get its act together in the morning. On the other hand, your family may not generate its energy to “go and do” until later in the day. There is no wrong or right in these staggered hours. The neighbouring family has gotten used to an earlier day with rest or quiet time likely coming after lunch, another spurt in the afternoon before dinner and an earlier bedtime (although this may vacillate hugely in summertime).

If both you and your partner have always preferred to sleep later and are night owls, chances are this rhythm will manifest in your family. Obviously, newborns have a way of disrupting established patterns, but in the long term, the natural cadence of preferred rising and sleeping will return. Knowing, accepting, and working with your rhythm will go a long way in planning family activities in a harmonious way.

In your case, bigger activities like going to the beach, visiting relatives, or hiking a trail will happen later in the day. You’ll see families with tired children, returning to their cars, while your brood—full of energy—makes a beeline to the water. A later BBQ works, too, since the kids are ready for more.

Whichever way you look at it, there is no downside. Making the most of it this season is so much easier when you take into account your family’s rhythm. After all, every part of a summer day or night is awesome.