This week is the last week of school here in southern Utah County. I have been back and forth to the school every day for talent shows, awards assemblies, and class parties. It’s a busy time of year, but probably not as busy as it will feel when my little brigade is home with me all day every day!
Summer vacation is a two-sided coin. On one hand, I love the slower pace. A few months with less deadlines, activities, early-mornings, and late-night assignments is a welcome break from the always-moving treadmill of the school year.
On the other hand, it means that I have 5 little people who are dependent on me to feed, clothe, entertain, clean up after and drive them around, not just in the evenings, but all day long. This can feel overwhelming.
Sometimes I have to remind myself when I hear someone screaming, “MooooOOOOM!!” from the other room for the 10th time in the last 15 minutes, there will come a day when I miss those insistent voices demanding my time and attention.
With less structure and non-existent private time (including going to the bathroom), working recovery can be especially challenging in the summer months. I have learned from my sponsor and watching others in recovery that it can be helpful to prepare by creating a recovery plan.
What does a summer recovery plan look like?
That’s different for everyone, but for me, my sanity requires a few essentials.
I need to attend at least one 12 Step Meeting every week.
While I am lucky enough to have kids who are old enough to babysit, not everyone is. This summer, I know I need to make sure my son is available to babysit every Thursday morning so I can attend my meeting. If I need to find a babysitter, then that’s what I need to do. Or maybe I try a different meeting in the summer because it works better with my schedule. Even though I love my home meeting, it can be fun and enlightening to hear different perspectives and meet new people at new meetings. I have attended different in-person meetings as well as online meetings and have found both to be wonderful recovery experiences. This has helped me to widen my circle of support. However I decide to work it, attending a weekly meeting is an absolute essential for my recovery.
I need to practice yoga at least once every week.
Yoga has become a recovery essential for me as well. Yoga is where I take the time required to really create the space for God to communicate with me. It’s where I find stillness in the chaos of my life, and the more I practice, the more I am able to find that stillness off the mat as well. Yoga is where I am able to feel deeply peaceful and profoundly connected to God. It’s where all the thoughts that have been jumbling through my head about my recovery, my Step Work, my challenges quiet for a moment, and God is able to shed light on His way of seeing things in a way that is deeper than my thoughts. He is able to talk directly to my soul. For me, making time for yoga is making time for God.
I need to find time for at least one “I” every single day.
I have found a pattern in my nightly check-ins with my husband (AEIOUY). If you aren’t familiar with this check-in, see here. Almost always, on days when I feel depleted and resentful by the end of the day, I have not done any “I”–something for myself. I have learned that taking the time for meaningful self-care is absolutely essential to my ability to be a loving, patient, compassionate, and fun human being. Especially a human being who is a Mom of young children. What does an “I” look like? Whatever feels like self-care in that moment! Sometimes it’s working out, sometimes it’s reading a book for a few minutes, sometimes it’s going to my 12 Step meeting, sometimes it’s getting a Diet Coke at the gas station by our home. Whatever it is, it is something that makes me feel like I matter and I deserve to be cared for.
I need to make time to work my own recovery by journaling, reading recovery material, or doing Step Work.
Recovery work takes time. If you’ve been working recovery you know this. Between weekly Step meetings, conversations with sponsors or sponsees, therapy appointments…it can feel like recovery is taking over your life! (But I’ve decided that’s not such a bad thing, when I consider the alternative ;)) Of all the recovery work I do, I have come to realize that the work that produces the actual change inside of me is the work I do by myself on my couch, under a blanket with my laptop on my knees. There is no substitute for reading recovery material, journaling through my feelings, and doing legitimate Step Work. This is where the rubber meets the road in my recovery.
Will I have limited free time to reflect, write and read this summer?
Can I make adjustments to make this possible?
If my serenity and continued spiritual growth is important to me, I can find the time. Waking up “early” (summer-early is different than school year-early) to do Step Work is a great opportunity to start my day with serenity, stillness, and God at my center.
I need to stay in contact with my Sponsor.
When life gets busy or easy(er), it is easy to be tempted to lose touch with my sponsor. I rarely have trauma triggers anymore. It is easy to fall back into the belief that I can handle things on my own. But for me, staying in contact with my Sponsor is a vital part of my recovery. Regardless of my current state of trauma, my life will always be unmanageable. Calling my Sponsor is a concrete way to nurture my humility and be willing to say “I don’t have this all figured out. I am still dependent on a Higher Power.” Hearing her feedback and even just her voice is a gift that always, without fail, brings feelings of peace, support, love, and assurance to my life. The funny thing about calling my Sponsor is this…the longer it’s been since I’ve called her, the harder it is to call her! So don’t let the entire summer fly by without checking in with your Sponsor. Keep in touch. Even if you aren’t struggling with trauma. Keep your Sponsor on your radar. This will bless your life in every way.
I need boundaries!!
Last but not least, I have learned that I need boundaries for myself and my kids to make this summer a positive experience for all of us. Without them, I get completely co-dependent. One definition of boundaries that resonates with me is this: Understanding where I stop, and the other person starts. When all my kids are home in the summer, I need clear boundaries that remind me and all of them what is mine and what is not mine. Without boundaries, I take responsibility for many things that are not mine to carry. Especially important might be the following reminders:
I am NOT responsible for your happiness.
I am NOT responsible to make sure you are entertained every moment of every day.
I am NOT responsible to clean up your messes.
Setting these boundaries clearly at the beginning of the summer can help me and my kids to live peaceably together with less expectations, and more recovery.
Who knows, maybe we can ALL see how, even in summer, our family can live Humble, Honest, and Accountable as we practice the principles of the Twelve Steps in our lives!
Please share your tips and ideas about a “Summer Recovery Plan” that works for you! We’d love to hear your strength, hope and experience on our Discussion Board!