By Bernadette Noll
Of course the song says it’s easy. And in our hearts and minds we really want it to be, but in reality, easy can take some planning. When everyone’s in school for months on end, we can idealize the long summer days, the day trips, the stack of books we’ll read, and all the people we’ll see, now that our schedules are free from school and all its commitments.
But when the reality hits, it can be more than frustrating when we realize the extra meals necessary, the messes left in every room, and the days that turn into weeks that turn into months where the things we have on our mental to-do list just don’t get done; even when the to-dos are fun things.
So here, in no particular order, are 10 things you can do to help you make your summer more joyful, more intentional and more full of the things you want to do, the people you want to see, and the places you want to go…
- Celebrate the transition. It doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive. It can be as simple as berries and whipped cream for supper or an evening outing to the playground. Talk about the highs of the school year and dream about the summer ahead.
- Make a Summer Intentions Poster. A few years ago, I co-created this summer intentions project as a who/what/where and when for summer plans. It can be as crafty as this one or as simple as a piece of cardboard the idea being that you have a place to turn when inspiration needs a little jump.
- Embrace boredom. At the same time that we need to set some intentions, we can also allow a little boredom. Sometimes when my kids are bored I think I need to fix it. Instead I’ll Â embrace it as the incubator for creativity, new projects, and brand new recipes or their next brilliant idea.
- Create a list of summertime responsibilities. These might be new things or reminders from last year. Daily or weekly. Things like hanging up your own beach towel or cleaning up your own mess in the kitchen. Hang them somewhere visible, in prominent and likely places.
- Perfect the blitz. Though messes are more in the summer, so is the desire to let it go a little more. In my book, Slow Family Living; 75 Simple Ways to Slow Down, Connect and Create More Joy, there is a method called The Blitz. This is a way of tidying the house in just 15 minutes, all hands on deck, timer set, so you can get it done all together and move onto more important things like hanging out. There is no time like summer for implementing this great tool for getting things done.
- Determine summer screen rules. Figure out what will work for you and get input from your children too. In our house we each have a certain amount of solo screen time and certain hours of the day that are completely screen free and even one day reserved for all-the-screens-you-can-watch.
- Hang a big summer calendar. Sure your virtual calendar is great but for the sake of stirring up some fun anticipation, create or buy a giant paper calendar with ample room for lots of fun.
- Laze about. In all the planning and plotting and intention setting, allow a little room for lazy afternoons. For your kids and for yourself as well. The older our kids get, the harder they work during the school year, so let summer serve as a time for them to recalibrate, rest, relax and fully integrate all the information that is constantly coming at them.
- Anticipate joy. This is my own personal goal after a gentle reminder from my 13 year-old. When I walk into a room where my kids are playing or hanging out, I will try to remember to anticipate that all is well.
- Â Get outside! I am convinced that parenting is easier outside. And though I’m an advocate all year long, I am especially a fan of parenting outside on a hot day right next to some body of water — be it baby pool, ocean or something in between!
Bernadette Noll is a freelance writer and the author of the book “Slow Family Living: 75 Simple Ways to Slow Down, Connect, and Create More Joy”. She lives in Austin, Tex., with her husband, Kenny, and her four children. Find her on Twitter @Slowfamilymama and at Slowfamilyliving.com.