A couple months ago, I offered a post encouraging us to release the hope for a perfect summer. Are these months memorable? Yes. Gone way too fast? Probably. But without stress, difficulty or hard days? Nope. The beginning of summer is like many transitions in the year. Similar to New Year’s and the beginning of school, summer brings a lot of energy and hope for the months ahead and a lot of reality check once we are actually “in it.”
Most of the posts you will read on my site are inspirational/encouragement, devotionals, etc.. But, every once in a while, the trained mental health therapist in me will kick in and you will get something very practical. Today is one of those days.
In this neck of the woods, school starts next Monday. This week is the final preparation for the academic year and the final gasp of the summer schedule. That also means it is the perfect time to engage in summer debriefing.
Debriefing is an important process any time you have been through an experience you want to gain from, grow through or improve upon next time. Debriefing is also commonly used to help people transition out of intense emotional experiences to help ward off negative impacts on their mental health (i.e. mission trips, natural disasters, the work of first responders, etc.).
While I hope your summer has not had that level of difficulty, I am certain that there are parts of these months that have gone really well and others that have been more challenging. The purpose of a summer debriefing process is simply to identify what you would want to keep/remember from this summer to help you and your family do this season even better the next time! We do this to give our brain and our emotions time to process and honor these unique months. And, frankly, if we don’t do it now we will forget by the time next summer rolls around!
Summer debriefing is something I would encourage you to do on your own and also with your family. While you don’t have to be particularly formal about it, even simple questions may give you information that will be valuable when next summer comes around. It often surprises me that how I experience a season can be so different from my spouse or my children.
Here are a couple highlights we gleaned from our own process:
- Make sure to leave a day open after every trip out of town. Planning something the day after we return seemed to be stressful.
- Remember that you (Mom) were pretty miserable transitioning to the summer together-all-day schedule. Make sure to plan in some quiet rest time/reading time in our rooms to (ahem) get a little time apart.
- We went on several little trips. While they were fun, the kids identified the time at home, time with friends and time at the pool as their favorite parts of the summer. Don’t stress about big vacations.
- Being rigid about bedtimes did not work. We did better just owning the late nights and lazy mornings. You will get back on track for school at some point. Just enjoy the shifted schedule.
As you work through a debriefing with your own family you may find that your experience matches with some of what I shared above or you may have encountered the exact opposite! That’s the essential nature of debriefing, you get to figure out the what and how that makes sense for your family so that you can go into the next time better informed. I will leave you with some questions below that may help you along in the process. Happy debriefing!
Summer Debriefing Questions
- What was my/your favorite part of the summer? Least?
- What about this summer encouraged me to relax and take care of myself?
- What did we do as a family that we really enjoyed?
- What self-care practices were important to me this summer?
- What created the most stress for me this summer?
- What did I like about how we transitioned to summer? Dislike?
- When did my kids seem most at peace this summer?
- Did we (spouse) get enough time together? What did we enjoy?
- What would I like to change next summer?