Don’t let this summer slip away. If you have children, you might only have 18 summers with them. This is a summer that will seem long at the front and then suddenly be gone. All summers contain that sensation. At our house summers are purposely restful. We purposely avoid filling our time with places to go and things to do that make us feel like we are on a schedule. The school year dictates that we keep a schedule while summer offers promises of slower mornings, quiet afternoons and early evening lounging by the pool.
Often families celebrate the end of school, but pick right up with busyness by jumping into camps and other commitments. If you have children only for 18 summers, what summer are you living this year? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to live your best life this summer. Don’t wait to make plans. Consider some of these ideas to fully embrace all that is wonderful about the summer.
Farmer’s Market & Berry Picking
Summer for us means frequent trips to the farmer’s markets and nearby berry picking. The experience of picking fruit followed by eating it is just divine. Berry picking starts here locally with strawberries, then moves to blueberries and blackberries. Somewhere in the midst of the berries, there are peaches. With an abundance of vegetables our taste buds just go wild. What is more awesome than a counter full of fresh food washed and ready for eating?
In early April when we can hardly wait for summer to begin, the kids and I sit down and begin to plan our summer on paper. We talk about fun places to visit and consider all we could accomplish without a schedule. The contrast of a school schedule combined with endless summer hours for imagination is a healthy balance. Sometimes we aim to work on a new skill. Each of us consider self improvement activities. Several children at my house are working on music goals such as learning to play the guitar and piano better. One child is reviewing her piano repertoire book. One summer my 15 year old son and I repurposed three bedrooms. His sister married in April giving him possession of her room. As we finished school that spring, we planned the remodel. He learned to clean out space, paint, repurpose furniture, deep clean closets, select bedding and develop activity spaces in his new room. It is an area where we have spent numerous happy hours. Scrapbooking and home improvement projects are other activities at the top of our list.
Early in the spring I determine what reading books may be left over from the school year or what books we should read to be prepared for the next semester. Reading occupies a significant part of our free time each summer. Part of the fun is where we read. Location choices include reading in an Eno (hammock), outside in the tree fort or just lazing around on a couch. We look for reading contests that offer rewards for our hard work. Due to diligence and an insatiable interest in reading, several of my children have won first place in various summer reading programs. Prizes included a $50 gift card, recognition and free food.
Summer is a great time to establish new Bible reading habits. As your child grows, their level of maturity deepens. With the slower pace of summer, a more advanced method of Bible study along with new prayer habits can be developed. For example, if a young one is reading, an appropriate children’s Bible can be introduced. Check out some of my favorite children’s Bible study helps here: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/AGN9PY7RS7GT?ref_=wl_share
Take time to sit with your child and let them read out loud to you. Make this a daily habit. Consider reading a chapter a day together. For readers in elementary grades, encourage them to read first. When you see them tiring, pick up the pace by reading to the end of the section or chapter. These will be special times together. Find a time that is consistent every day for reading. Perhaps read first thing in the morning or right before bed. Some of my favorite stories are found in Lamplighter books. They can be read aloud or listened to on audio. My grown children listen to them now in their car on road trips or as they are going to sleep at night. Try them, You will fall in love too. https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1UG2FTCLSJOAT?ref_=wl_share
For my reading I gather many books that I have been wanting to read and some that are partially read. Usually, I limit my stack to ten books. These books range from self-help, spiritual growth, educational, biographical and other interesting subjects. I personally love this part of my summer.
For all of us, summer also promises more time to spend with friends. Early in the summer before the weather is too hot, we venture to the zoo or a park. Play days with the children’s friends include snacks and trips to new locations. I work to catch up with adult friends who don’t cross my path regularly during the school year by treating them to lunch or meeting for coffee. These days I am also planning time with older high schoolers or college kids that are my friends. Several of my former writing students have been at college all year. I am eager to catch up on their news. Most importantly, I plan leisurely time with my husband and children as we make the most of this summer.
Remember, many of the greatest friendships are those with history. Don’t neglect the opportunity of a slower pace of summer to make some new memories with your friends. Look around and invite those who are new to your community as well. Include someone who lives alone or is a single mom. One of my most favorite experiences is the invite people to join us around the table for a meal. Love on your people by cooking something simple from the freshness of vegetables and fruit of the season. Finish it off with ice cream on a warm brownie. Keep it simple. It’s about kindness and community.
Did I mention that summer also offers long hours to complete cleaning projects and yard improvements? While this is no one’s favorite choice for a summer day, the results are rewarding. Cleaning often unearths lost treasures and forgotten toys. The joy of a partially empty space or more efficient work area proves satisfying. Summer offers time for seasonal cleaning and purging. https://nurturingmynest.com/2020/05/01/2015-1-teaching-children-chores/
During the school year I find it difficult to focus on projects around the house. My mind is occupied with school. Summer offers time for repairs and house projects. Long stretches of time offer efficient work blocks. Since summer offers a vacation from schedules, be sure to use this flexibility to meet your goals. Plan game nights, movie nights or cooking days along with those workdays.
Rest, then Rethink
While taking much needed rest from the routine, don’t let your summer slip away without the potential advantages of planning. Take time to evaluate, to organize and to dream.
What are your plans for this summer?