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Why Summer is a Struggle (And How Solitude Saves Me)- Sarah Westfall

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Summer is here. For many parents, these weeks come with a sigh of relief, a break from the fast-paced school year. But for me, summer is more like a marathon—a sweaty fight to the finish. Only three weeks in, I already feel the threat of shin splints.

You see, I’m an introvert. My energy comes from time spent alone. (And no, a solo trip to the grocery store doesn’t count.) To function well, I need space to breathe, to be needy rather than needed once in a while.

But as a work-from-home mom with four boys under age 8, I’m needed constantly. The older two get up early and want help with breakfast. I simultaneously hand Cheerios to the toddler while nursing the baby. My days are filled with building LEGO Batcaves, answering work emails, providing snack upon snack, and making sure the dishes don’t overtake the kitchen counter. Even after all four littles are in bed, I have laundry to fold, writing deadlines to meet, and a husband I don’t want to neglect.

During these summer weeks, I often feel like I can’t catch my breath. I start to ache for time alone, and the joy of summer slips away. Lazy mornings spent in pajamas or afternoons at the splash pad get overshadowed by exhaustion and bitterness. Instead of enjoying the season, I long for the finish line.

But I don’t want to wish away these precious days with my kiddos—the day at the zoo when my toddler’s big blue eyes lit up upon seeing a flamingo for the first time or the squeals of laughter the afternoon I sprayed the boys with the garden hose. Summer is exhausting, but it’s also filled with potential, one thousand tiny opportunities to laugh and play and make memories as a family.

To maximize these moments, I’ve learned to make room for solitude, for those activities that refresh and strengthen me. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential, even spiritual. I need solitude, and my family needs me. Therefore, a bubble bath at the end of the day is no longer just a luxury, but a necessity—a spiritual act of being renewed that keeps me from being the worst version of myself. It’s my tiny Sabbath in a season of chaos.

Yes, I may always struggle a little more during the summer months. With all these kids, I just can’t escape it. But by scheduling quiet moments alone, I get the energy I need to be a better mom, wife, sister, and friend. Because my need for solitude is met, I can be present in the chaos and embrace the joy that is little bare feet on the tile floor, adventures at the park, and serving snacks multiple times a day. Even if I cross that finish line sweaty and tired, I can do so without regret and with all the blessings that summer can bring.

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