This summer has not featured my finest moments so far.

I’m not sure what it is about summer – or just this summer – but as soon as school ended, we floundered a bit. Nothing major, but enough attitudes and yelling and not listening to one another to leave me frustrated at the end of most days.

Not exactly the carefree, fun summer days I had envisioned!

I spent a lot of time last week thinking about my own part in all of it, because let’s face it – if mama ain’t happy, everyone else is going to be at least a little miserable.

I had high expectations going into this summer. I had a plan. Lots to get done, my own selfish agenda mostly, but also well-intentioned family fun. All those things on my summer bucket list? They WILL happen, I told myself.

I firmly believe in the power of lists and schedules to get things done. I would be lost without them.

But a strong, God-centered, well-connected, happy family does not come from a checklist or a schedule.

Dr. Tim Kimmel’s book, Grace-Based ParentingĀ {affiliate link}, has shown me so much in just the first few chapters about the source of my summer parenting frustrations and it comes down to this…

Kids can tell when we are living by a checklist rather than trusting in God to lead us.

That line hit me square between the eyes because THAT IS ME. “Today we will get this and this and this done and if you want to do something else, well, we just don’t have time in Mommy’s schedule of summer fun.”

Yikes, people. I may not have scheduled every minute of every day, but I was allowing no room at all for the ebb and flow of summer and kids’ interests and whatever may come up in the moment. I was a closet momzilla and nobody was happy because of it, including me.

Last week, as I stared at a pile of dishes and heard the dryer go off for the second…or third…time, I looked out at the bright sunshine and remembered the boys’ words from the morning as they looked at the Weather Bug app on my iPad {yes, obsessed with weather like their mother}…

It’s going to be HOT! I can’t wait to play in the pool today!

God nudged me to grab my swimsuit and sunscreen and a few towels and just head out there with them. It may not be fun, but dishes can done when they’re in bed.

Life has lots of must-dos and have-tos and need-tos, but balance includes some want-tos as well. I didn’t plan that moment into our day. I had planned on using that time for them to read and me to fold clothes, but the leading of the Spirit to have a little fun in the sun brought just the balance I needed that day.

I responded well to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The kids responded well to my invitation to swim. And even though the day didn’t look how I had planned, everything that HAD to be checked off a list that day was completed and the dishes were done before I went to bed.

Balance

I found a new summer balance, and that balance just can’t always be planned.

And I’m listening for that nudge a lot more.