Don't let the summer days slip away. Savor the season's simple pleasures with these practical tips for an intentional summer.
Sunday is officially the first day of summer, but if the current weather situation is any indication, spring is long gone.
With the onset of hot temperatures comes the excitement of all the new projects I'll complete, the books I'll finally finish reading, the blog posts I'll write, the nature I'll enjoy, the rest I'll take (and don't even get me started on the weight I'll finally lose).
Oh, the endless possibilities of summertime! (Clearly, I am what some may call delusional.)
Every year the husband and I promise ourselves that unlike the year before (or the one before that and the one before that), this summer we'll spend every free moment at the lake with friends. Okay, fine, maybe not every free moment but definitely the weekends... Or every other weekend, at the very least... as long as we're not busy with something else – which we likely will be.
Needless to say, autumn arrives, and disappointment sets in as we realize how miserably we've failed.
No one is suggesting we abandon all notions of being an adult, but I am willing to bet that you too are quite familiar (and frustrated) with the disappointing feeling of realizing that you've done little else than work this summer. I just want a balanced summer without the guilt of abandoning my household duties or burying myself in work – surely that's not too much to ask for, right?
Disappointment is the result of reality not meeting our expectations, so this year, instead of simply talking about it, I'm making a plan to have an intentional summer, and it starts with the 10 practical tips, below. Sure, these tips may not help me find the time or resources to travel outside the country, renew my wardrobe or organize everything we own (all things I honestly want to do this summer), but at least when autumn arrives, I'll can answer "How was your summer?" with complete honesty.
1. Resist the urge to sleep in on the weekends.
Gone are the days of summer equating to an endless amount of free time. If you're like me (i.e. employed), resisting the tendency to live for the weekend is a daily struggle. After five days of waking to the blaring sound of an alarm clock, I'm always tempted to finally "catch up on sleep" on the weekends.
I may get an extra hour or two of sleep, but I usually wake up feeling behind before the day has even begun. Waking up early on the weekends allows you to get a jump-start on the day – and enjoy some quiet time before the rest of the world wakes up.
2. Don't neglect your quiet time.
Speaking of quiet time, I am convinced that the tendency to put off reading the Bible until "later" is stronger in the summertime. Ironically, I notice that if I am proactive in reading the Bible, rather than losing time, I seem to have more of it!
3. Plan a vacation in advance.
Not only will you have something exciting to look forward to, but you'll also save money by planning a trip ahead of time.
4. Make a menu plan.
Whether you're a full-time employee or a full-time mother, slaving away in the kitchen is the last thing you want to be doing in the summer. As much as I love serving my family in that way, the actual process of preparing something typically takes me much longer than is normal. By the time I figure out what to prepare, by the time I drive to the grocery store and buy the necessary ingredients (because as luck would have it, we have all but one ingredient), by the time I finally cook the meal, by the time I clean up and wash the dishes – not only have I completely lost my appetite, but I've no desire or energy to do anything but collapse on the couch.
So to avoid this fiasco, make a flexible plan of easy, summer dishes for the entire week, and stock up on groceries ahead of time.
5. Clean up the kitchen after each meal.
I'm convinced I'm the last woman on earth without a dishwasher in her kitchen. As a result, a menial task like washing the dishes becomes a day-long ordeal. My advice is to deal with the mess while it's still manageable, unless your idea of a fun weekend is washing a pile of dishes.
6. Be intentional about having lunch away from the office.
Meet up with a friend, take a walk in the park or plan a mini-picnic for one – whatever you do, be intentional about not eating at your desk. Not only are you giving your lungs a break by being outside, but the change in surroundings works wonders for your mood and creativity. Plus, you won't feel like you spend every waking minute at the office.
7. Don't save all your errands for the weekend.
In fact, make it a point to spend weekends in any way other than running errands. Sure, this may require you to make a few stops here and there after work on weekdays, but when Saturday comes around, you'll have plenty of time to relax instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
8. Take time to enjoy every day.
Of course mini-vacations and date nights are fun, but enjoying every day shouldn't necessarily equate with a high price tag. In fact, I find that simple pleasures tend to be even more appreciated! Go for a stroll around your neighborhood instead of spending your entire evening in front of the television (guilty!). Bring dinnertime outdoors with a picnic right in your backyard. Lounge on your porch with a good book and a tall glass of lemonade. The possibilities are truly endless!
9. Resist the urge to overbook your schedule.
The reality of the matter is that there are things you must do, and then there are things you feel you must do. See the difference? Don’t give in to the pressure of attending every friend’s step-daughter’s pet’s surprise birthday party. Too many events or projects will leave you feeling exhausted.
10. Just be.
We all have an idea in our head of how summer should look like. Inevitably, we get caught up in making it "perfect" and lose sight of what truly matters. The easiest way to avoid disappointment is to abandon all expectations. Instead of focusing your energy on hosting the perfect summer party, or reaching that perfect weight before stripping off at the pool, or having the perfect time at the lake, try to be present and simply enjoy the moment.
What are some ways you plan to be more intentional this summer?