I love summer. But as an introvert, I can find this season very draining. The days are long, the kids are home, and the weekends can feel like a party circuit.
I enjoy being with other people, but I need time alone to recharge.
(Not sure where you fit? Here’s a free online personality test.)
Luckily, the solution for exhausted introverts like me is an easy one: plan for down time to recharge.
Here’s how I tend to my introverted self during the busy summer months.
On the Weekends
It’s easy for me to pack summer weekends full with pool time, play dates, barbecues, and family get-togethers. These are good things, but if I’m not careful, I’ll be more exhausted when the weekend’s over than I was when it began.
For me, the key is scheduled downtime. I can say yes to fun social events and family activities during the summer, if I’m careful to schedule corresponding downtime. Remembering to actually schedule the down time is an ongoing challenge—but I’m a much happier camper when I proactively plan some time to relax and recharge.
During Family Vacations
If I’m not careful, I can return from a week-long beach vacation with my family feeling like I need…another vacation. I don’t think I’m the only one!
Through trial and error, I’ve learned a vacation actually feels like a vacation if I plan down time during our trip. We’ve vacationed at the beach for the past few summers. Since we have small kids who need to rest and dodge the hot sun for a few hours, we often take some time in the middle of the day to eat lunch, watch Food TV, and maybe take a nap.
After bedtime, the grown-ups play board games or watch an episode (or 3) of a new-to-us tv show. (We set the precedent for this habit when we brought Lost season one on vacation a few years back. We were all happily hooked by week’s end.) This year, I’m thinking Friday Night Lights.
And what about the kids?
I love my kids, but they definitely drain my energy quickly—especially during the summer when our plans are less structured than during the school year. Here’s how I keep my sanity in the summer:
Book basket time.
When I’m the one home with the kids, we have book basket time for 30 minutes every morning. This is one of the ways we do summer school. The older kids grab books out of the book basket that I stock with good content and read for 30 minutes. My 4-year-old looks at picture books during this time, and my toddler flips through board books or plays with his Thomas trains.
I usually read during this time, too. I could tell you it’s because I like to set a good example for my kids, and I do. But really, it’s because reading is one of my favorite ways to recharge my introverted batteries.
Every afternoon for 2 hours (or 90 minutes if pool plans cut it short) we have rest time. My toddler usually naps; everyone else plays by themselves. They can draw, build, listen to music or an audiobook, take a nap—as long as they do it alone. They may not realize it, but they all need a break from each other (and from me!)
And not just for the kids! I love living on the western edge of our time zone, because it stays light really late. But that also means it’s hard to get to bed on time when it’s still light out at 9:45.
But to stay sane in the summer, I have to get enough sleep—and so do my kids. I hate going to bed when it’s still light out, but a pleasant bedtime transition helps a lot. The kids take baths and then read in bed. I skip the bath, but love to read in bed to wind down after a long day.
This summer take care of yourself not just with lots of water and some sunscreen, but with time to yourself.
Do you schedule some downtime for yourself over the summer (or do you live with someone who should)? Share your summer strategies in the comments.
P.P.S. I wrote a book about personality coming out September 19, 2017: Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything. Click here to pre-order.