While chatting and laughing with my sister-in-law at a family wedding this past weekend, my nine year-old son gently tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me mommy,  I will dance with you tonight.”  As with most moms of boys would react, my heart absolutely melted!

This summer has been filled with an overwhelming amount of activities, one of which was my stepson's 21st birthday party held at our house a couple weeks prior to the wedding. The kids, including my son, danced the night away at the party.  But when I asked if I could join, he immediately said, “No!” with a look of pure embarrassment on his face.  So to have my ever-so polite young man interrupt my conversation to share that he would dance me with this night at the wedding, it brought tears to my eyes and an enormous smile to my face.

That night was one of the best I’ve experienced with my family.  Singing, twirling and hip shaking on the dance floor with my husband, son and daughter are images and memories that I’ll recall for a lifetime.  Why was this night so monumental for me?  It’s not just because my son actually asked me to dance.  It’s because I’ve been so care-free this summer in spite of our overbooked schedule.

At the beginning of summer I quickly recognized that our family had an engagement, or two, every weekend from mid-June through late August.  Over two months of nonstop activities!  And to amplify this, I would be hosting many of these at my home.  In the past this would have completely stressed me out!  Stressed me out in such a way I would’ve dreaded the upcoming dates and experienced no joy during the events.  But I wanted this summer to be different.   I realized all of these activities were fun and enjoyable.  But the only way I could actually feel and experience it was to be over prepared.  So this time I took a different approach.

With pen in one hand and pad of paper in the other, I sat down and conducted a “brain dump” exercise.  I looked ahead at the summer’s schedule and made a list of each and every item I could possibly imagine that I would need to do, buy or be prepared with for the upcoming events.  I carried that list everywhere, adding to it when I’d remember something new.  Then each Sunday, I’d prioritize the tasks for the week and schedule two or three items to manage each day.

The result?  I was so prepared, completely organized and ready to go ahead of time that I didn’t experience stress leading up to any of the events.  But the real win was that I was able to enjoy myself and in turn, everyone around me enjoyed themselves too!

I’ve discovered a proven path to successfully manage my stress and continue to enjoy those busy times of year.  As we head into a new school year with the holidays following quickly thereafter, I’ll be sure to incorporate this type of exercise and planning early on.

With tired feet and sore legs, we wrapped up the wedding with a final dance and hugs goodbye to the extended family.  When grandma asked my son what his favorite part of the wedding was, I’m sure you can guess his response.  “The dancing!”  Mine too!