Summer Green Isn’t Easy

Sandman on Flickr Commons

You know that old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”? It’s inspiring in theory, but let’s be honest here; sometimes, when the going gets tough, even the tough get overwhelmed, frustrated and feel at least a little bit guilty when their actions fall short of their ideals. Summer is one of those tough times for me. It’s a season that has been full to the brim with commitments from work to recreation since… well, since humans have had leisure time anyway.

In fact, I don’t know who coined the phrase “the lazy days of summer” but around here when the sun gets hot and the days long, they’re anything but lazy. Before I know it, I’m pulled in too many directions, spread too thin, and find myself in positions where greener choices become harder and harder to make; even more so than in the cooler months. Soon the guilt sets in. “I’m an editor for a green site!” I tell myself while mentally wagging my finger in front of my own nose. I should not be struggling with this! How can I blog about being green if I’m NOT green? And pretty soon I’m paralyzed in a vicious cycle of frustration; spinning my wheels and getting no where.

This year, as the season wears on, I’m finding it doesn’t have to be so hard however, and trying to make up for lost time. Our home, our activities and our choices may not be as green as the grass in our lawn but we’re getting there even in the hottest months. And because I’m certain I can’t be the only woman — especially among mothers — out there who is struggling to green her summer year after year, here’s how:

Realize Focus is Finite – Women are infamous for their gross overestimation of the reach of mortal focus. Serving on three PTA committees, coaching a little league team, keeping a reasonably clean home, attending all of the Open Houses in a tri-county area — even for those whose kids you barely know — planning and executing a family vacation, keeping in touch with friends, and squeezing in time to shower and sleep while working full-time and often more has somehow become the norm rather than the overachieving minority. But our focus is finite and because we often fail to realize that it bears repeating no matter how many times you’ve read it. When all of the above takes precedence little room is left for anything else, including the greening of our homes and lives. There are those women who seem to have infinite focus, who do it all and have it all, but keep in mind one of the things they have is probably help — paid or otherwise. Determine how much focus you have to give and tailor your commitments to that, not the other way around.

Prioritize – No matter how diligent you are in limiting your commitments there will always be things that spring up and require your attention. Learn to prioritize and know what things you can afford to neglect ahead of time to reduce stress when this happens. You may even consider keeping a running list of things that you could ignore or delegate in short order if you needed to. And even better yet, delegate some of those things now — or do away with them completely if you can.

Streamline – Create systems, systems and more systems. Once we realize our focus is finite and we prioritize our commitments we often find that there are still too many things and too little focus. Systems that streamline the repetitive tasks that take up our day can free up some of our focus for other endeavors; making the most of the limited resources we have gets us through each day and moving towards our goals.

Kick Romance to the Curb – No, not the kind you share with your partner. Ideals are an excellent jumping off point for goals and as a self-described Type A and an idealist to a fault I would never tell you to do away with your idealism entirely. That said, romantic ideas that spring from those ideals can be more damaging than skipping all of the above steps added together. Don’t let romanticism get in the way of reality. Don’t let guilt get the best of you. Know that failures happen and move forward, don’t dwell. Chances are one pack of paper plates or a couple of bottled waters on a last minute outing to the zoo aren’t — in the grand scheme of things — a deal breaker. Just strive for a better option next time.

How do you “get going” when the going gets tough? Share your Green Summer tips and tricks with me in the comments!

Plus: Join me tomorrow for some of the summer systems that are helping us green without guilt.

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You can read more about and by Diana, who stumbles often in her quest for green, at her self-titled personal blog and follow her adventures as a small farmer in Michigan at her farm site On Olive Hill.

2 Responses to Summer Green Isn’t Easy
  1. Sandy
    July 13, 2010 | 5:37 pm

    I’m with you on this train of thought, Dianna. I’ve been a bit sad that we are already preparing for school and it seems I haven’t stopped all summer.
    Canning, gardening, house work, driving, writing, watching, helping, budgeting, making everything I can manage to make on my own, homemaking, cooking, baking, mothering and helping my husband with his business … and that is just some of the list. There simply are no lazy days of summer around here!

  2. Monica
    July 30, 2010 | 6:28 am

    I agree, NO Lazy summer days here. I think that term might have been coined back in the day when there wasn’t the media frenzy, and an over stimulated society. When it took longer to get places and we didn’t have our kids in every activity on the planet to “build their self esteem”. All the homemaking, gardening, farming, etc. wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to punch the old time clock. But in our economy it takes two incomes to make it. We will just keep our nose to the grindstone. I agree, it is very hard to think green when you need the convenience in our fast pased world.