Ah, it’s summer time!
These next three months stretch before me like a welcome stream, babbling happily as it sparkles in the sunshine.
Summer begs me to take off my shoes and wade into its depths. To blow up an inner tube and allow it’s flow to take me for a ride.
I know I sound terribly idealistic, but you have to understand…I haven’t had a summer without a deadline looming overhead for nearly eight years.
I’ve tried to slip fun in where I could so the summers weren’t a total wash. But to have three whole months this year without one single writing obligation…well, I’m giddy with joy!
I’m setting out to make the most of this summer, and I’d love to have you join me!
Making Summer Count
Have you noticed? Summer can slip by before we know it. Suddenly, it’s the end of August and we’re buying school supplies at Wal-Mart, wishing we’d been more strategic about the way we spent our summers.
So here are eight ways to avoid the woulda-coulda-shoulda regrets of a misspent summer:
1. Make Room for Summer
- Do your best to get looming obligations finished and off your to-do list. For me, that included writing and scheduling an entire summer of blog posts, including graphics! (Impressive, eh?)
- Look at your calendar and to-do list. What’s truly urgent? What can be delayed or possibly removed? Do your best to create some open space even if you work full time.
- If you haven’t already flipped your closets, take an afternoon to pack up winter clothes and pull out summer. (While you’re at it, purge anything you no longer wear. Donate it immediately. Clearing space in your home clears space in your soul.)
Summer Tip: Finish must-dos, clear your schedule, and flip your closet. Click To Tweet
2. Relax Intentionally
- Consider starting your day with a little sunshine and Jesus! Sit outside with a cup of coffee and your Bible. Worship for a bit before heading off to work.
- Spend your lunch hour at a park. Go for a walk, a hike or bike ride. Take a road untraveled and see what lies beyond the bend. Really see the world around you.
- Plan a do-nothing day. Sleep in, read a book, lay in the grass and find shapes in the clouds. Allow the inactivity to refuel you rather than frustrate you.
- Unplug digitally – turn off notifications. At the very least put boundaries on your digital use (as well as your kids.) I’ve actually turned off my Facebook and Twitter notifications, and I can’t believe how much stress has been relieved by that one act.
3. Make a Summer Bucket List
- Use this free “Summer Bucket List” worksheet we’ve created. Brainstorm all the different things you’d like to do this summer, then prioritize using the directions provided. Invite each family member to make their own bucket list, individual activities as well as those that involve the whole family.
- Sit down together and create a family “Summer Bucket List.” Try to include one activity from each person’s list. Watch for how the lists coincide. Perhaps a few want to go hiking, while another part of the family prefers the mall. Keep the list on the refrigerator for easy reference.
4. Schedule Fun
- Take out your calendar (the one you cleaned out a bit!) and begin to schedule the big things like vacation, youth camps, etc. Then look for spaces to insert a few family and individual “Bucket List” items.
- Making the most of summer doesn’t have to cost a lot. See tips for cheap fun here and don’t forget sites like GroupOn, Living Social, TravelZoo, and even Craigslist. Find great deals on activities you might not have thought of on your own.
- Plan big outings and vacations together. After all, anticipation is 80% of the fun!
5. Be Spontaneous
- I told you to plan out your summer, but don’t plan everything. Instead, be adventurous! Try something new – whether it’s food or an activity you’ve never done before. Stretch your horizons.
- Do random acts of kindness. Kidnap your spouse for lunch or an overnight getaway. Make chores a game – winner chooses treat of their choice! Grab the neighborhood kids and try one of these cool party games.
- Be flexible. When plans go awry, don’t get uptight. Learn to go with the flow. After all, author and psychologist Gary Smalley says that the more things go wrong on a planned outing, the more bonded you’ll be six weeks later (Keys to Loving Relationships video series).
6. Connect With Family and Friends
- Schedule hospitality! Host a BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat) grill potluck after church. Make homemade ice cream and invite the neighbors over. Keep it simple and clean-up to a minimum.
- Text friends and invite them to bring their kids to a “Mom & Me” day at the lake. Or have everyone grab Happy Meals and meet at the park. Or turn on the sprinklers, soap up a plastic tarp and turn your lawn into a waterpark!
- Plan a mini-family-reunion. Meet somewhere central for a few days or just an afternoon. If that’s not possible, schedule a Skype or FaceTime call and catch up with each other over ice tea.
7. Take a Vacation
- According to researchers, 41% of Americans don’t take their allotted vacation days. Crazy, huh? Look at your calendar and plan how to make the most of the time you have coming to you.
- If you can’t travel far, plan a “staycation”! Be a tourist in your own home town! Pick up activity brochures at hotels or the Chamber of Commerce, check the newspaper or internet for summer events. Pitch a tent in your own backyard. Roast marshmallows over the grill, download a stargazer app, sing campfire songs.
- Though I’ve lived in Montana all my life, I’m still discovering the riches of “The Treasure State.” Learn more about the place you live at this searchable site: Only In Your State | Discover What’s In Your Own Backyard
8. Don’t Forget Church
- Whatever you do this summer, make faithful church attendance a priority. Even when we were up at the lake camping, my dad always took off late Saturday to make sure we were home for church Sunday morning.
- Be willing to substitute teach in kids ministry. It can be hard to find volunteers during the summer. I promise, you’ll be a blessing – and you’ll be blessed!
- When you’re out of town on vacation, take in a church service where you are. I love visiting other churches! I’m not only spiritually refreshed, I’m inspired by the way other churches do ministry. Use ChurchFinder.com to find one near you.
- If you can’t go to church, let church come to you! If you have good wifi access, lots of churches stream their services live (perhaps even your own!)
- When that’s not possible, create your own church service. Sing a few worship songs. Share favorite scriptures and what they mean to you. Then choose a verse to talk about as a family.
Too Precious to Waste
So, that’s my eight ways to make the most of summer!
If you haven’t downloaded the “Summer Bucket List” worksheet, you can do that here.
I’m sure you have great ideas of your own and I’d love to hear them! You can leave a comment at the end of this post, or reply at my Facebook page after watching the video that inspired this post below.
P.S. Before we go, here are some other helpful tips I came across in my research:
- Real Simple Magazine – “How to Kick Back, Relax, and Vacation at Home”
- 101 Fun Things to Do With Kids This Summer
I’d love to hear from you…How do you make the most of summer?