In our house we “live” for summer. I am a teacher, and by March I am daydreaming of leisurely summer days with no schedule, not rushing out the door, and not having to frenetically emailing, or texting a teacher about a forgotten note or permission slips. The first weeks of summer vacation are busy, sleepovers on weeknights, staying up late, movies, ice cream, parties, swimming, the fun has begun. However, around the 15th of July the magic starts to fade. We start to get on each other’s nerves, there are looming projects, camp is in full swing, we are rushing around, everyone is constantly hungry and wants to know what is for lunch and dinner. Then the chorus of “I’m bored” kicks in after 10 minutes of downtime.
All of a sudden, I am wishing away my summer and looking forward to a semblance of routine, and appreciating my lunch hour at work, where I can sit in my office and be alone. The guilt starts to set in and the wheels start turning- I haven’t read enough with Julia, I slept in until 9:00 a.m., we are “just” going to our local lake, and what about that Pinterest inspired obstacle course we were going to build?
Then the ultimate “thief of joy”- comparison sets in and I wander down the rabbit hole of social media. Scrolling Facebook and looking at family pictures of people I hardly know. Everyone is in coordinated outfits, all tan, and have toothy smiles. The reality is that I can’t get my six year old to let me brush her hair, and every pair of shorts my husband owns are stained.
So, here we are at the beginning of the last month the summer, and I am taking a vow to enjoy the last fleeting moments of summer. These are some mindsets I am going to adopt in the next 30 days. If you are in the same place as me, maybe these will work for you too.
1. Come to the realization that not everyday is magical.
The fact that I am off the whole summer is a blessing. My corporate friends have maybe two weeks a year, and are scrambling with schedules and worrying about daycare. I don’t have that stress or expense in the summer. There will be some days where the biggest trip will be to Trader Joe’s and that is okay.
Yes, the kids will be bored, but let them fix it. There are plenty of books, toys, games, and coloring books to occupy them. I bet there are toys that haven’t been looked at since Christmas, it is time to put those back in the rotation.
2. Unplug from social media.
As I said above, it is so easy to be robbed of joy when you are scrolling social media. There will always be someone who has or is doing more. But I can bet there are more people who are not doing things that are as fabulous as you. Those “perfect” family pictures, making you want to be adopted by that family? Remember, you don’t know what is happening when after the smartphone clicks the picture.
Limit the social media scrolling to a minimum, it is a time zapper. You start scrolling at 1:00, and all of a sudden it is time for pick up at camp. Pick a time limit and stick to it. Use a timer to keep you honest.
3. Get outside
Check out some parks and beaches in nearby towns, that you don’t have time to check out during the school year. It is nice to get a break from your local town and some different scenery.
Plant some flowers, or some vegetables in pots or in beds. You will be proud of yourself when you see the seeds become plants. If you plant vegetables make a meal with them. There is something satisfying about eating something that came right out of your garden.
Take a walk on a nature trail, or simply around your neighborhood. Plan to meet your friends for a walk, run, etc. It is nice to catch up while doing something healthy. It is much cheaper, and less fattening to meet for a walk than lunch or coffee. You might see something you have never seen before, or a neighbor that you have never met.
Instead of drinking or eating indoors sit outside and take a minute before the chaos starts. Your outdoor space can be turned into an outdoor cafe with a chair and a cup of coffee or tea.
The summer is perfect for watching a movie or a local theater production outside. They are usually free, or not as expensive as seeing them in a theater. Make sure you bring bug spray!
4. Self Care
Over the course of the years, my mantra has been “You can’t drink from an empty cup.” I need to take care of myself before I can be of service to anyone. Whether it is 5 minutes or the whole day, it is important to make sure you take care of yourself. Maybe it is yoga, meditating, exercising, shopping, whatever it is, make sure you do it. You will end up resenting everyone around you if you don’t.
5. Meal prepping
Meal prepping is not glamorous but it can make your life much easier. There are no words that grate on my nerves more than “I’m hungry” or “What’s for dinner?” Sit down with your kids at the beginning of the week and make a plan. Make batches of food to keep on hand, so when you get home from your fun day you don’t even have to think about it. Plus you won’t waste money on take out because you need to feed everyone fast.
Keep the snacks in an area where they can serve themselves. Remind them that they are for the week. You are not making multiple trips to the store.
Summers are getting shorter every year. It is one of the few times in the year, where everything seems to go at a slower pace, and most people have a smile on their face. The kids will be back in school before you know it, and you will be longing for those lazy days of summer.