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Don't Let This Summer Slip Away (Use These 3 Tools Instead)


Along with summer comes a parenting and relationship paradox.

Less structure means more space. Time for spontaneous fun. Picnics. Trips to the pool. 

But less structure may also mean that your priorities fade away. 

And for couples with kids, this often means that even though you have more time for fun, you have less time for each other. 

Here are two ways to approach this challenge:

  1. The "let's just wing it" strategy. This isn't really a strategy at all. It's just allowing random chance and the deluge of incoming requests from friends and family to set your priorities for you.
  2. The intentional strategy. This is where you check in together about your summer priorities and add some structure to make sure that you block time for what matters most.

If you're going for the "let's wing it" approach, no need to read further. 

If you're interested in adding some intention to your summer together, these tools are for you.




1. Get clear on your summer priorities.

The priorities that shape your life together shouldn't be static. They should be dynamic. They should evolve as your life changes.

So even if you and your partner feel clear on the priorities guiding your life together, now might be a good time to ask: what are our top priorities for this summer? And how can we make time together -- just the two of us -- one of those priorities?

There’s no right answer to these question. The only bad answer is having no answer. That's a recipe for allowing the random happenstance of life -- the invitations from extended family members, the demands of work, or your addiction to the device in your pocket -- to shape your summer.


2. Where can you fail more at life?

This question comes from what might just be our favorite exercise in The 80/80 Marriage. It’s an exercise we call "The Life Report Card," an exercise designed to give you a chance to take a step back from your life and consider which subjects in life you want to get A’s in and which subjects in life you’re willing to fail. 

The key to this exercise is leaning into failure. Do you really need to work nights and weekends all summer? Or can you get a D+ in that subject?

Do you really need to bake the Fourth of July barbecue apple pie from scratch? Or can you get a C- in that subject by buying one from the grocery store?

The more you can intentionally fail in your lowest priority subjects, the more you can succeed and get A’s in the subjects that matter most to you and your family.


3. Create structure.

It's great to chat with your partner about priorities. It's amazing to say that you want to spend more intentional time together.

But for most couples, none of that matters unless it's in the calendar. It's all just talk until the weekend away, the date nights, and the ditch days get crystalized into neon-colored invites.

So as summer approaches, take thirty minutes or an hour with your partner to get tactical. Go through the summer week-by-week. Make sure the events on your calendar reflect your priorities.

It may sound too business-like, unromantic even. But it's often these moments of structural clarity that open the space for that free-flowing spontaneous flow of time together that we all crave. 

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