While the rest of the world waited for February 2 and Punxsutawney Phil to declare just how many more weeks winter would hold on, I looked to February 1. That was the date I allowed myself to count the days until my kids would be done with school and off on summer break so we could all be home together and do summer things.
The key words in that sentence are home and do, because one always seemed to exclude the other and I ended up fragmented and frustrated in my approach to life.
The kids are older now and so am I. More than that we homeschool. I don’t have to count the days until we’ll all be home together. Still, every February, I find myself counting the days until we can focus more on the freedoms and gifts of summer.
But my desire to be home and do are still at cross-purposes, leaving me feeling as though I’m living in the battle field of my mind, my calendar, and my expectations. And I too often find myself a summer version of Ebenezer Scrooge, bah-humbugging away the season I was anticipating—feeling too overwhelmed to do all of those things I was looking forward to, telling my littlest that we don’t really need to go to the pool, and sometimes counting the days until fall.
This isn’t how I want to approach summer. It’s not how I want to live. But I’m learning that the way I meet seasons and months and days becomes the way I live my life. So I’ve been working on it, putting on a new mindset about summer–the one I actually have instead of the one that exists only in my mind and Hallmark commercials.
Here are a few ideas that have helped me on my quest to better embrace a big summer. I’m more successful at some of these than others, but I’ll take progress without perfection over the pursuit of perfection with no progress.
- Let summer be summer. Not a continuation of spring. Not a runway for fall. Just summer.
- Let this summer be this summer. Not last summer. Or next summer. Every summer is different.
- Look at every opportunity as a blessing rather than an obligation.
- Ask and adjust. Ask yourself what you want to do this summer. (Which isn’t the same as what you’d like to accomplish this summer.) Ask your family. Ask what’s realistic. Adjust.
- If you need to let some things go, let them go and move on. Without guilt. Don’t dwell.
- Say yes to the people who live in your house. It’s their summer, too.
- Plan a few no days. Most days you’ll do things. Set a few apart to not do things.
- Go to the pool. Or the lake. (And maybe get in the water.)
- Eat outside. Even better: Put your dinner in a basket and go on a picnic.
- Simplify your meal planning. During the summer we eat taco salad most Mondays. My girls love it, especially when we take it to the lake and go for a walk afterward.
- If you travel, lighten up. Take less stuff. Make packing less of thing to contend with.
- Consider this question: What is summer for?
I’d love to hear your answer. Let me know in the comments.
There’s a new book on the market: A Family Shaped by Grace: How to Get Along with the People Who Matter Most. It’s by Gary Morland, a believer in connecting the dots of life, in the power of encouragement, and in God’s care for the state of our family relationships. It’s practical and encouraging, a story and tool-chest for how to bring about small changes in your family culture, not by changing your family, but by changing your heart, attitudes, and actions toward your family. I’ve been privileged to be on the launch team for this book and because I believe family matters and am grateful for Gary’s voice, I’ll be giving away two copies of his book, one to blog readers and one to newsletter subscribers. To enter, leave a comment on or before June 29.
Blog reader winner will be announced June 30, in the comments on this post. (Newsletter subscribers will be notified by email. If you’re not a subscriber, there’s still time. Subscribe in sidebar.)
I love this: “Let this summer be this summer.” I should apply this to everything! Thanks, Natalie, for a great way to start my weekend. Let this weekend be this weekend.
Cheers to that! I try to live to far out in the future and miss simple things like the weekend I’m in.
These lines, “the way I meet seasons and months and days becomes the way I live my life. So I’ve been working on it, putting on a new mindset about summer–the one I actually have instead of the one that exists only in my mind and Hallmark commercials.” are pretty much verbatim what I share in my Christmas chapter in my book about expectations.
Such great wisdom here–well done!
Well, that’s a fun little intersection of your thinking and mine. I’m glad the internet brought us together. Thanks for your encouragement.
Love your bullet points! Those are awesome points. I’m older…and Summer for the most part is just an extension of every other Season. There is just the two of us…and I don’t know if the grandchildren will be coming down this summer….We don’t take vacations…so there’s that….I just breathe….and take the moments as they come.
Breathing and taking moments as they come are good practices, something many of us could use more of. Thanks for sharing and for your kind words.
Mitzi. You’re our winner. Email me wth the icon at the header (email@example.com) so I can get your info and send you your book. Congratulations!
Summer, I’m not sure what to expect this summer. It’s my third summer being a farm wife, so it comes with a certain amount of deep breathing after planting, but in anticipation of harvest 🙂
It’s my first summer with a toddler, and my first summer here without a youth group.
I’ll have my nephew though, so with him and the toddler, I bet we’ll have a great time!
Love the blog Mrs Ogbourne!
Sounds like you have some transitions this summer. Toddler summers are fun! Enjoy. Thanks for commenting, Cora, and your encouraging words.