Kristi and her son on the beach

Summer Slowdown

The Summer Slowdown

When the Marine Corps moved us from the fast-paced grind of the Washington, D.C., area back to the slow-paced coastal Carolina life, I felt my blood pressure drop at least 10 points. I was all too glad to be out of traffic and that hustle lifestyle that you know if you’ve ever been stationed in the National Capital Region. After three years, the stress of day-to-day life was visible on our faces — even the faces of our kids, who’d shed big tears over rigorous homework and the competitive nature of youth sports. We’d become accustomed to stress, and I knew this move would be good for all of us. It would help us reconnect, reprioritize and stop rushing around everywhere.

Lying to Myself

Unfortunately, the sea breeze that sweeps our front porch each evening hasn’t been strong enough to blow the busyness away from our house. The problem wasn’t the NCR (at least, it wasn’t the whole problem, but it’s in a category for raising blood pressure, stress, academic expectations, competition and commute times). The problem wasn’t us (I’m pretty sure, anyway). The problem is that we (talking “all of us” as a society, not “all of us” as in just my family) have let ourselves be too available, overworked, overbooked and overwhelmed. We (speaking for my family here) are tired all … the … time.

The Current Pace

We are zeroing in on the end of the school year — our kids’ first at their current schools. All of you with school-aged military kiddos know that the first year in a new school is enough to zap the entire family’s energy. Everything is unfamiliar — the social scene, routines, school hallways, homework loads and the list goes on.

We jumped right into camps and sports when we arrived to give our kids the best shot to break into social circles before school started last fall. It was time well spent, but it meant jumping right into “youth sports tired” before ever recovering from “PCS tired.”

From those early months here, we’ve just piled on. Soccer, wrestling, Beta Club, rec lacrosse, travel lacrosse, honors classes, seven different dance classes, field trips, sleepovers, recitals, birthday parties — and somewhere in there, we squeeze in minimal sleep, errands, and just enough housekeeping to make sure there’s more fur on the dog than on the floor and we have clean clothes and dishes.

Many nights, we eat dinner between 8 and 9 p.m. My husband and I are often high-fiving at the door as my daughter and I get home from dance and he’s heading out to lacrosse with our son.

I’m thankful that we can give them these opportunities, but I want to make sure we’re also teaching them the importance of getting off the ride from time to time to look around, capture some moments before they’re gone, and prioritize themselves just as much as their schedules and expectations.

Kristi and her husband standing on a dock with water behind them

Slowing the Pace

This morning, while frantically trying to get two tired kids out the door for school, my son asked if he could have just one week over the summer break that wasn’t scheduled so he could “chill.” Mind you, he just had a full week off for spring break and the poor kid is already burned out again.

Recalling my summer vacations at his age, where I plopped on the couch all day flipping between television shows, sustaining myself on chips and ramen, completely forgetting everything I’d just learned for the last nine months, and ghosting even my closest friends (because you could do that before cell phones and the internet). I turned to him and must have had the weirdest expression on my face because he then started making the case for a week of downtime.

“Dude, yes. Take a week, please. Sleep until noon. Eat junk. Play video games. Recharge.” I eventually stopped his compelling presentation with some version of that response. He deserves this. My daughter deserves the same. My husband and I also deserve this. You deserve this, and so do your kids. We shouldn’t have to justify to anyone why we just want to relax and be left alone for a few days.

We all know we can’t fully stop the momentum of busyness, but we can be intentional about slowing it down. I, for one, will do a happy dance every morning this summer so that I don’t have to help pack lunchboxes and every night that we aren’t trying to complete homework through waves of “hangriness.”

It isn’t about completely disengaging; it’s about slowing down. Let’s read a book for fun, not just because it was assigned. Let’s use the space that was consumed by homework to have a conversation as a family. Instead of rushing off to a game on Saturday morning, let’s take the boat out on the water. Hard work is important, but so are fun and relaxation.

Enjoy those lingering summer sunsets. Feel the grass between your toes. Laugh with your kids. Get to know your kids again — they’ve, no doubt, changed a little bit over the last school year. Talk to your spouse about more than who is picking up the kids from practice. Ignore responsibility for a day. I’ve learned that the laundry will always be waiting. Make room for boredom and creativity. We’re slowing down this summer, and I hope you can too!

Kristi Stolzenberg
Written By Kristi Stolzenberg
Marine Spouse

Kristi started writing for Blog Brigade as a new Milspouse in 2008, and all of a sudden, she’s a seasoned (but not overly salty) Marine spouse.

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  • So relatable, Kristi! It’s funny how we sometimes think a change of scenery will magically erase the busy-ness, but you’re right, it follows us.

    I love how you’re embracing the idea of slowing down this summer. Giving your kids—and yourselves—a break to just “chill” and enjoy the simpler moments can be so rejuvenating. It’s great that you’re prioritizing time to reconnect and just be, without the constant rush.

    Here’s to enjoying those quiet, slow moments and making this summer a truly restful season for your family!

  • Social Media Admins says:

    Hi Kelly! Thank you for your thoughtful comment.