Well, we’ve had quite the summer. It was longer than usual — the kids got out earlier and don’t go back until Tuesday — yet the summer seemed to fly by. I always have ideas (SO many ideas OMG) of what summer should be…but fast is not one of them. In fact, my ideal summer looks very much like the above picture: lazy days on the beach, happy hours that stretch well into the evening, a boat ride, sitting on the dock (friends and family all bathed in golden light, of course), lots of laughter and ease.

Most of all, my ideal summer is easy.

I struggle with Easy.

We did have those moments of course, the moments with the golden light and the dock-sitting and the happy hours stretching well into the evening. But I felt like I had to fight for them. Mike and I are just so freaking busy (and the Anni Sale in July just about kills me), and neither of us are great at turning things off, scaling back.  

And then I remember that Raines is eleven, which means that I have only seven summers left with him at home.

Seven.

Sometimes I like to torture myself and plan out those seven summers. We take trips every year — where should we go? This boy who has been my partner in crime for the last decade, this boy who SEES me with those old eyes of his, this boy who whispers, “I can’t wait to take you to Paris, Mom”…where do I take him if I have only seven choices left?

But that thought spiral misses the point. I KNOW.

I know that it’s not the planning and the whizzing around or even the doing that’s important. The important part is the connection, the enjoyment of the moment. And for that, the only thing I really need…is space. 

I need space in my schedule to not be racing to the next thing (even if the next thing is fun), and space in my head. My head is a buzzy, spinning place most of the time — I am exhausting (just ask Linzi). But I need to find a way to make my everyday life feel more like those summer photos in my head.

This is one of the reasons that travel, for me, is basically like religion. It’s often the only time I can truly focus on the moments. I think part of why this works is because there’s less to focus on: schedules, commitments, people, even stuff. It clears away some of the clutter in my head. And I think, subconsciously, I know it’s a temporary state.

But how do you pull this into real life? 

I recently came across a quote by a teacher. She said that it’s important that kids are not over-scheduled, but her rationale was one I hadn’t considered. She said that within the act of scaling back lies a very important lesson: we can’t do it all. We can’t succeed at everything (and it’s pretty miserable to try).

She’s right. And I think her comment probably applies just as much to Mike and I as it does to our kids.

Truthfully, as much as I feel the need to slow things down, to create that space I crave…I’m not sure where to start. Between the kids, our jobs, and working out (something I refuse to give up)…how does one create that space? If this was GOOP, I’d probably start talking about meditation at this point but I am not GP and I DON’T. MEDITATE. 

My parents achieved space (as best they could) by sticking to a pretty meticulous schedule. Dear god they loved those schedules. And order — the house was always in order! I’ve resisted that my whole life but now I wonder if they were onto something. 

So tell me: do you use order and schedules as a way of keeping the crazy at bay? And does it actually work? Or do you find yourself frustrated because the schedule creates more problems and stress? I’d love to know if any of you have figured out this whole Slow Down, Get Head Space, Enjoy the Moment kind of thing.  

But if you tell me to meditate I will FREAK OUT.

That last one, probably.  I keep staring longingly at two pairs of cowboy boots. Why?? WHY??? Am I craving ranch life? Do I subconsciously want to move back to Colorado? Do I picture myself, beer in hand, in daisy dukes and cowboy boots and messy hair and smudged eyeliner all carefree and easygoing? Feel free to join in my delusions: Boot one here, boot two here

What I actually bought on labor day sale. We always get this question, but I’m usually making the final decisions at 11:58PM the last day of the sale. No more!! I have shopped at Frame (extra 25% off sale) and bought this oversized tank in both black and white (Frame does perfectly cut, interesting basics better than anyone)…these high-rise white denim flares (all I want in September is to wear white flares with a white tank, clogs and a basket bag)…and these insanely cool paint-splattered kick bootcuts. Other than the cowboy boots, I think I’m done shopping.

Labor Day Sales: Let’s be picky. The sales are shockingly good right now. I think most of us (on TME) ended up a bit surprised. So. To help weed through the vast amount of sale merchandise…our highly-edited team picks can all be found in our Weekly Sales Report, Labor Day edition. (I’ll be adding mine, soon.) But since we’re also about cost-per-wear and being REALLY PICKY while shopping (this should be especially true during crazy sales — if you wouldn’t pay full price for something then THINK TWICE before buying it on sale)…we’re also covering a few sales based on our most-worn pieces from the summer. Mine are here, Scotti’s are here, and Jess’ are here. And if you missed Linzi’s most-worn pieces article, I suspect many of hers are now on sale, too. 

Speaking of being picky…we’ve rounded up 20 pieces worth having. We’re coming out with a guide — SOON — called 20 Pieces To Wear Year-Round. In this guide, we’re listing our favorite 20 pieces that can actually be worn year-round. We strived for current, fresh pieces (it won’t be filled with boring basics like white tee, black blazers, or white button-downs because OBVIOUS #snore), instead we focused on pieces you’ll be excited to wear. The idea is that as we enter this shopping season (oh hey, Fall) we can focus our budgets and energies on pieces that go the distance (and I suspect you already have many of them in your closet). So look forward to some fun styling suggestions. The catch? This guide will only be available to newsletter subscribers. We LOVE our subscribers — it helps reduce our dependance on Facebook and other social media outlets — and we’d love for you to join us. We typically only send emails once per day, and we never share our subscriber emails with anyone. You can subscribe to our newsletter, here.

Need some easy weeknight dinner options?  Me too. We threw a (desperate) plea up on Instagram the other day and Our Readers Responded. You guys are amazing. You can see everybody’s responses to our IG post here (@themomedit), and if you haven’t already played along, we’d love to hear your weeknight dinner ideas, too. I’ve saved this post and will be referring back to it…OFTEN.

Two Instagram accounts making me cry. One is artist Ugur Gallenkus (@ugurgallen) who creates thought-provoking images by putting together two photos in the most heartbreaking of ways. One half of the image is a Western kid, living their life (skiing, walking to school, drawing a picture)…and the other half of the photo is a child in Afghanistan amongst bombed-out rubble. Or a child in a hospital in Aleppo. But he makes the photos seamless, so the viewer is left with an overwhelming sense of connection. Powerful and heartbreaking. (This, this and this, for example.)

The other is poet @amyturnsharp.  

“my son watches me
open my notebook at
a cafe in the Bowery
and asks me what
makes me stop everything
and write what makes
me go serious
oddly quiet
you i say
you”

Happy weekend, everyone.

xo,

S

21 COMMENTS

  1. I have teens, one going into HS junior year. And best advise I can give as we’re looking down the college barrel, is to just enjoy every moment. Schedules with some flexibility are important as they grow. That’s life right? And we’re preparing them for the real world. Summers don’t have to be super fancy or a big vacation. Those are nice, but most important is to just be in the moment and tuned in as possible in the every day . Really all that matters!

  2. The thing no one ever tells us, is that from the moment our kids are born, our job is to teach them to not need us. If we do our jobs correctly, they’ll move away to college and only minimally miss us. This is a good thing, no matter how awful it feels. I’ve sent one kid through college, off to NYC. Second kid is away at school, third kid is a senior in high school. Let them spread their wings, Encourage them to do their thing; then they’ll come home to share with us. Loosen the strings a bit.

  3. While I don’t have all the answers to your questions, as I’m often caught up with these same thoughts as well, the one thing I can say is I like to stop for a moment, stare off into their eyes, or at their play, or at some gorgeous landscape and think, does this matter in the long run? Is this going to affect the big picture? Will squeezing in this one last thing matter? So what matters, as you said, are the present moments- the experiences we have now and the memories they make….since you don’t meditate, I think you found your meditation- travel, which while I read the article could only think why doesn’t she meditate!!! But travel does this for you, it brings you to that present state…

    Lastly, sorry to write an encyclopedia, but morning walks, before the chaos starts, before they’re all up..:: if you can manage that…. (esp on the beach) are pure meditation!

    Love your writing and this blog!

  4. Loved reading your post today. I have exactly zero answers, but I have found that a great time to connect with my kids and really have great conversations with them is when I’m driving them places and it’s just me and one kid in the car. Taking one of them school, or a doctor’s appointment or dance or taekwondo or (name any of the zillion places I take them). They really seem to open up and talk about stuff that interests them or is important to them or just about their friends. Rather than tuning out during the drive, I TRY to tune in to them. It seems like this could translate to walking somewhere to. It’s a short amount of time, but connection doesn’t have to take long.

  5. I hear this rec a lot but it’s harder for city parents as we are typically taking public transportation or walking everywhere with lots of noise & distractions. 🙁

  6. I am a single, full-time working mom to a 9 yo. I’m also a Type A scheduler/planner. But I HAVE to balance that with time for me to just think, be and breathe because time for me is so important (putting on my oxygen mask before I can put his on him!). Practically speaking, what that looks like is signing him up for no more than one extracurricular activity per week. He loves swimming, so that’s what he does each week. This school year, I’m breaking that rule slightly: He’ll do cross-country at our local park for 8 weeks after school on Thursdays AND swimming on Saturdays. Not glutting our schedules with his schedule keeps both of us balanced. He has plenty of time to read, build with Legos, play Minecraft and hang with the kids on the block outdoors.

  7. Why so freaked by meditation? I have a number of family members who do TM and while meditation is having a bit of a hipster moment, it’s also an ancient approach to dealing with our crazy brains. I keep thinking of trying it properly because Life.

    But what we do for now is that we have certain spaces in our week scheduled (Friday night is homemade pizza and board games, Saturday night is movie night) and certain times where we do not make plans… essentially scheduled free space (Saturday morning in particular).

  8. I find walking the best talking time. It calms our bodies and yet we aren’t distracted by driving. Of course it wouldn’t work on a busy pedestrian street but residential and quiet streets or parks are perfect for talks. I find the walk home from school especially good for unpacking the day for my 8 yo.

  9. My second and last child just started her senior year and has said she might not live at home next summer, so I spent the last two weeks of summer being weepy and doing whatever she wanted to do with me.

  10. So, I would really like to sign up for the newspaper and get this cool guide, but why do you ask for our birthdate? I am not OK with that. Too much personal information flying around the web as it is.

    My son (almost 14) has now decided he wants to go to boarding school next year. So be thankful you still get those 7 more years! I am processing this only VERY slowly… though if it is the right thing for him (and I think it is) I will suck it up. Somehow. He’s my only, btw.

  11. I totally get what you’re saying/feeling here. It’s why I have such wonderful memories of when my kids were born. Those first days in the hospital and few weeks/days at home…everything is slower. To me, it was like everything sort of stopped so we could figure out this new life. They are some of my most favorite days in my life. We had a super quiet summer that was a little reminiscent of that. I had surgery on my arm so I simply couldn’t do a lot of what I normally do and it made life generally more simple (my kids would say boring, I’m going with a more positive spin). It thought me that saying no to somethings and just taking it easy isn’t such a bad thing. As far as the number of years, my 19 year old has no prospect of moving out any time soon. And I’m currently thinking of leaving the 14 and 15 year olds on the side of back road in N.J. on the way home from the shore because they’re playing a game of two for contact and throwing a water bottle at each. It’s kind of all relative as far as that goes! ? #godhelpmeonthisridehome

  12. I work full time (teacher), and have 2 elementary aged children. 2 years ago I decided to prioritize my health and realized a strict schedule was the only way I could regularly workout and have my children participate in activities as well. I’m now pretty strict about my schedule and systems, and it has greatly reduced my stress. Kids get 3-4 days of unscheduled time (outside of school) and limited screen time. Actually limiting screen time for EVERYONE really frees up a lot of time…

  13. I viciously scrape things off our schedule and limit extracurriculars to, currently, one (bouldering class. No team sports here, they eat up too much time, especially weekends.) It is hard to resist signing them up for All The Things, especially because I grew up with None of The Things, but I remind myself that I also grew up with downtime, time to read, aimlessly hang around with and talk to my friends, discover the wildlife in the vacant lots and creeks near my house. Yes, I wish I’d had violin lessons and gymnastics classes and been able to do Girl Scouts, but doing all three of those things at the same time would have exhausted me and turned me into a nervous wreck. Read Simplicity Parenting. It is all the ammo you need to reinforce this suspicion that you have that we would all be better off with fewer activities, commitments and stuff.

    • How the heck did yours come in already?? Hmmm…gotta check my boxes but I *thought* they weren’t coming in until Monday. But YES. Let me throw something together. (Does IG work?)

  14. P.S. I got some too. I can’t decide between the 24 and 25 (I think we’re the same size) and want to see how you would style them. I’m 5’3″ …would you hack off any length?

  15. Ahhh ok, I live in San Diego and when things ship out of LA I get it in like 0 days. Frame Denim is a fan fav of mine so sizing is always pretty consistent but can’t decide if paint splatter is too much for a shorter gal (or too 1980s?) Probably wear a grey-white-black top and super plain shoes (white sneaks?) Yes IG works great!

  16. Ahhh ok, I live in San Diego and when things ship out of LA I get it in like 0 days. Frame Denim is a fan fav of mine so sizing is always pretty consistent but can’t decide if paint splatter is too much for a shorter gal (or too 1980s?) Probably wear a grey-white-black top and super plain shoes (white sneaks?) Yes IG works great!

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