It is the first official day of summer break, with school ending yesterday. Nothing much changes in our house in terms of routine: instead of going to school, my 8-year-old and 6-year-old go to all-day camp. But there is some relief from homework, endless communications from teachers, and the hustle involved in the school year. Plus the weather is most enjoyable.

My husband and I were both sitting at the kitchen table with the 9-month-old baby (who always wakes up before the sun). I was playing with Magnetic Poetry, which I always keep on the kitchen table. Since the table has a galvanized zinc top, the poetry sticks well.

After tossing words in and out of the bowl, I came up with:

delirious life we love

“That doesn’t sound good,” my husband commented. “Delirious sounds like a negative.”

“Not always,” I replied. “Like deliriously happy. Drunk on happiness.”

At that point, the 8-year-old emerged from his basement bedroom, bleary-eyed and disheveled hair. Summer break means nothing to him in terms of sleeping in.

“I think we should all do a breathing exercise,” he announced. “You need to take a breath in and push out the negative energy. You can even make a noise as you push the energy out. But no laughing.” He gave us a solemn face.

I could tell that this must have been part of his school day, and important enough to him to keep it going. So we all took in deep breaths. On his exhale, my son gave a “Humph” sound as he pushed out the negative energy. My husband snorted with laughter a bit and I gave him the evil eye to be serious.

“Now clear your mind,” my son continued, clasping his hands into a prayer position below his chin. My husband and I copied his movements.

His eyes opened quickly. “Now we do a check-in, to see where we are at. I am at a 5, because this is the first day of summer.”

His teacher had told me about this technique earlier this year: she does a check-in with the kids and asks them to rate how they feel, on a scale of 1 to 5. It helps her to assess anything that might be going on, especially several days of low check-ins.

“I am at a 4,” I said. “I had some stress this week, but I am looking forward to the weekend.”

“I am at a 3,” my husband said. “I wasn’t feeling well yesterday. But today will probably be better.”

My son looked around the table, quite pleased, and then went to help himself to a toaster waffle.

As we head into the long days of summer, the check-ins might be a simple way to keep connected. It can be easy to be moving too fast and have so many activities that we don’t pause to ensure that we are enjoying ourselves.

I plan to do another check-in with my family tomorrow.

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