How to Make the Most of Summer

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I love the summer. And as the days get warmer, I start to build lists and create expectations for the months ahead will bring. In my mind, I have endless time and resources to do what I want to do. However, my reality is slightly different than what I have conjured up in my head. September 1st rolls around and home projects are left undone, bucket lists incomplete, and I have a list of friends I never connected with.

I hope to change that this year. I am going to:

  • Be intentional with my time. Work hard and play hard.
  • Learn from past mistakes and make a plan.
  • Lower my expectations of what is possible.

I want to look back on my summer with pleasant memories that are not tainted by disappointment.

Here are some suggestions for how to make the most of the summer:

DON’T

Volunteer for everything.

INSTEAD

Consider your values before taking on anything new this summer. During the school year, I chair a committee that lines up with my family's values. As a result, I can confidently surrender the need to say ‘yes’ to everything else throughout the school year. The summer is no different.

DON”T

Create the perfect summer bucket list and schedule every activity on it.

INSTEAD

Consider an alternative to the Summer Bucket list. Choose a few activities or maybe even just one to focus on each month. Ideas include:

  • Buy a snow cone machine and syrup have friends over on Frozen Fridays.
  • Host a Summer Movie Series in your backyard. Choose four movies and four dates. Let friends know the details, tell them to bring a blanket or lawn chair. Set up a video projector and screen. Provide popcorn, drinks, and glow sticks.
  • Investigate the best ice cream shops in your area and once a week try a new one. Rate each one and share your reviews with friends.
  • Set up a backyard game that's available to play when the mood strikes. 

DON’T

Reorganize your basement...and your attic...and your garage.

INSTEAD

Pick one job and tackle it with excellence. If you have projects that must get done:

  • Save smaller jobs for rainy days
  • Break up the larger ones into multiple days using small pockets of time consistently.
  • Enlist the help of all family members so the jobs get done faster.

DON”T

Demand your kids do tons of school work and track their time with charts and graphs.

INSTEAD

Find fun ways to learn. Summer slide is a real thing, but I’ve failed numerous times at having my kids complete the grade-specific workbooks. What’s worked for us:

  • Read, read, read. By the pool, at the beach, or snuggling on a rainy day.
  • Listen to audiobooks on the go.
  • Attend free programs at the library such as author visits, scavenger hunts, and game days.
  • Participate in an online program such as Brain Chase. It combines school work with a real live treasure hunt. (This one saved me big time by keeping track of what my kids were doing so I didn’t have to.)

DON”T

Feel guilty about not giving your kids the time of their life.

INSTEAD

Appreciate the simple joys of summer.

  • Be a tourist in your area, plan a few day trips.
  • Take regular walks together.
  • Eat your meals outside.

DON’T

Throw all your routines out the door.

INSTEAD

Make appointments for the things that matter to you but leave margin in your day for impromptu gatherings or outings.

DON’T

Be so focused on the WHAT of summer that you forget the WHO.

INSTEAD

Focus on connecting with others. You will experience a more fulfilling summer when you make the people in your life a priority.

  • Put down your smartphone and have a conversation with your neighbor or the person sitting next to you at the pool.
  • Invite your child’s friend’s parents over so you can finally get to know them.
  • Call a friend to see how they are doing. Summer can be a lonely time for some as school volunteering, sports, and the other commitments that allowed you to see them comes to a halt.

My friend and life coach Elise Daly Parker offers a challenge for us:

Using a timer, take 10 minutes and dump your summer to-do list on a piece of paper. Then choose your top 3 priorities and make those your goals in the area of home, entertainment, and family for this upcoming summer.


Looking for more on Summer? Here are some other posts on this topic:

Episode 46 Summer Dos and Don'ts

Building on the conversation we have last June on the podcast, Elise, Noelle, and I have gathered to talk about what we have learned in summers past and how to make the most of the summer this year.


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