Summer is quickly approach. Yay for summer!
I just love summer — I never want it to end — and if you’re anything like me, you want to make the absolute most of it.
I was tempted to say summer “break” — but let’s be honest, life still keeps moving around us at a pretty hectic pace during the summer. Might as well leave “break” out of our vocabulary, or you might end up quite disappointed with your summer.
The pace is definitely slower in the summer — but I have learned through the years that a complete shut down ends up in a disastrous beginning to my school year.
For me, I try to keep the pace at a slow jog throughout the summer — that way, I’ve accomplished a few tasks that will make the school year easier and I feel much more mentally ready for the school year to begin again.
So, without further ado, I offer you 7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer.
School or No School?
We used to shut down completely from all academics each summer, with the exception of violin. That worked well for us when I had a bunch of littles and no bigs in the house. I needed that break — frankly, I still need that break.
Now that the kids are older and they do their math on a program that checks their work, we have found that having math continue through the summer takes the pressure off of accomplishing everything in 8 months of the year. It works well for us. So “yes” to math for the older kids.
I will also keep up a little bit of reading with the 8 year old because he’s just on the cusp of really taking off and reading on his own — for the sake of not losing that progress, I think we’ll continue a few days a week. It also doubles nicely as his reading commitment for the local library reading program, so it’s a win/win.
As an aside, most libraries have reading programs. It’s amazing what a bag of prizes and a few weekly raffles can do to keep kids motivated to read in the summer. Everybody loves to participate, so it’s not really work to get them to keep reading. So yay for summer reading programs. I highly recommend.
Make a List of Projects you Hope to Attack This Summer
I used to look at a horse with blinders on and think it was an awful way to treat an animal. That is, until I had six kids of my own. Now I get it.
For most of the school year, I have implemented the “putting on the blinders” so that I could accomplish the absolutely necessary tasks in my day. Moms can’t afford to clean up every mess, scrub away at every sharpie drawing on the wall, or repair every broken door knob during the school year. We just can’t!
If we did stop to address every disaster in our path during the school year, we’d never get our kids off to classes, lessons, sporting events — or even eat dinner for that matter. So, we need to implement that age old concept of “mortification”, also known as “dying to self” throughout the school year.
Good news: All this dying to self is supposed to make us holy or at least something a little less un-holy — so yay for disasters at every turn. 🙁
You know what they say, “hope springs eternal”. At the beginning of summer, that is true for me. I like to make lists of all the projects that I’ve been looking at for the last 9 months (or 9 years) and I try to get to at least a few of them addressed every summer.
Sometimes it means hiring out — but more often than not, it’s about rolling up my sleeves and painting rooms or repairing things myself.
I’m not a handy person, but it’s amazing what you can learn from youtube about general repairs or painting tips. I recommend you start there if you’re unfamiliar with the task at hand. At least you’ll have a better idea if you’re up to the task or if you’re better off hiring a professional.
A word of warning: don’t take on too much or you’ll end up mourning the loss of an entire summer that you can never get back. Trust me on this one. Prioritize and try to hit the most important things.
There is something so incredibly satisfying about digging into the dirt and growing something.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something so satisfying about digging into that dirt and doing honest to goodness labor with your hands. It makes tending to a small garden an absolute pleasure and a big “yes” on my agenda.
I think it’s especially satisfying when you and your loved ones can enjoy eating the fruits of your labors by summer’s end — so I tend to invest my gardening time into fruits and vegetables.
Summer in the Midwest is the perfect time to get back into our gardens, so if you’ve never done it before, maybe give it a whirl this summer.
This isn’t about preparing for the apocalypse — if the apocalypse comes, we’ll just have to rely on the province of God.
We’re also not aiming for the “sustainable living” level of gardening — hey, I’m growing humans over here so they take up a good portion of my time — the aim for me is to make my garden just big enough to really enjoy it.
Have fun with it. Don’t do too much. Get your kids digging in the dirt too. They love it.
At some point, have a big feast where the things you have grown are the star of the show. It doesn’t have to be fancy — add a little wine and some dessert and you’re good to go.
Dine al Fresco
Somewhat related, but who doesn’t love dining al fresco? Sitting out in the cool of a summer evening, after a long hot day — it’s the best! Honestly, I’d eat outdoors every day of the summer, if I could.
Fortunately, we have a screened porch, so that keeps the bugs away. But even if there’s a few bugs, there is something so lovely and calming about being outdoors.
My kids are always happier in outdoor seating in a restaurant, so outdoor dining in the summer just might be the perfect way to have a more relaxed time to enjoy good food and conversation as a family outdoors.
Add a fancy drink or ice cold beer for the adults — you have the beginnings of some lovely summer memories.
Eating outside. You have to do it. And if you’re currently in the deep south or Arizona, I get that you’re probably getting ready to hide away for a few months, but the rest of us have got to take advantage of beautiful days — because they won’t be around for ever.
Don’t underestimate the beauty of a visit to a farmers market either. Fresh ingredients and a little creativity will make for a lovely meal. Everything tastes better in the summer, in my opinion.
Put Some Effort Into Creating An Outdoor Space
I just love outdoor spaces, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot or take too much time to create a welcoming outdoor space of your own.
Recently, I cleaned off an inexpensive outdoor rug we had, pulled out a few chairs from the basement, bought some outdoor fabric and foam for cushions, pulled some plants on to our deck, added a candle — and voilà! A perfect outdoor retreat.
It took me about a day to pull it all together, but I’ve already enjoyed using this space for morning prayer, evening rosaries, and wine and conversation with John. Most definitely worth the effort.
The more thought you put into these spaces, the more likely you are to use them and leave the cares of the world behind. And it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to accomplish it.
Do Something Creative
Take some time to do something creative. Do something that seems absolutely “unproductive” and tap into that creative side.
It can take all sorts of forms, but the point is that most everybody has a creative side — and tapping into it can really renew your enthusiasm for the beauty of this life you’re living.
Painting, sewing, writing, cooking — whatever it is — just take some time to get lost in something beautiful.
And maybe it won’t be “beautiful” — maybe it will be awful because you have no talent to speak of — as long as you invite some people along for the activity, it might be a real bonding moment and a lot of fun.
And if you don’t have a creative bone in your body, go off to a museum or outdoor concert and get lost in beauty for a while. Just remember, God is Beauty, so getting lost in beauty can restore your soul and remind you that you are human.
So take the time. You won’t regret it. Don’t underestimate the power of Beauty.
Go Find a Body of Water
I don’t care where you are in the world, you are probably within a few hours drive of a body of water. I just find water to be a big part of what I look forward to in the summer.
It’s just so restful and peaceful to spend the day by a body of water — that is, unless it’s a public pool. 🙁 Maybe it’s the introvert in me, but public pools just stress me out — tons of people and nowhere to look to daydream a bit.
Go for the real thing at least once this summer. Even if you love the public pool, being out in a real body of water just can’t be beat.
It doesn’t matter what type of water it is, just make it to a priority at least once this summer. Lakes, rivers, oceans — whatever — just enjoy the beauty of creation with the people that God has given to us. Bring along some family and friends and you have some memories coming!
So make some your list and get going. Summer is waiting for you!
What makes your summer must-do list? I’d love to know.
Linking up with Kelly.