Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins
A couple of my friends have been talking about how few summers we have with our kids, and how to make the most of them.
I say helpful things, like, “oh,” and, “hmm,” and “Eighteen! It’s not a very big number, is it?” This is code for “this conversation is making me so anxious that I may break out in hives at any time.”
It’s not that I am trying not to notice how fast my kids are growing up (though that is probably true).
It’s just that there are so many good ways to spend a summer. Should we go for summer camp or summer reading? Block party or beach bonfire? Water slides or water balloons? Roller coasters or roller skates? Field trips or museum trips or road trips or trips to grandma’s house?
And if I skip it all in favor of free play, will the only thing my kids remember be how they sang “I’m bo-ored” all summer long?
Every “yes” is a “no” to something else. What if I choose wrong? (Strangely, this concern does not stop with summer. I can wonder about this all year round.)
There’s an easier way, though. We can keep things simple and still have summers our kids actually want to remember.
Three Steps to a Simpler, Stress-Less Summer
Here’s a simple plan to keep your summer plans simple. (See what I did there?)
1. Turn off the social.
Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs: they’re amazing. All those ideas and inspiration are super helpful—right up until they’re not. Having too many options streaming past all day long can be more than a little crazy-making.
When you cross over from gathering ideas to being overwhelmed, or when you move from being inspired to comparing and judging yourself, it’s time to turn off the screen.
The more you can be present in the world in front of you, the less you’ll wonder what else you’re missing. (Which is probably the point. You aren’t missing a thing, and neither are your kids.)
2. Decide what’s best for YOU.
Before you try to cram every good thing in, take some time to think about what, exactly, you and your family need.
Do you need an adventure, an influx of inspiration, or a good, old-fashioned break? You don’t have to do it all. Start with what’s right for this one summer, and let go of the rest.
When I’m trying to figure this stuff out for my family, I ask myself three questions. You can find those in my brand-new, totally free guide, The Simpler Summer Guide.
Inside you’ll find help for figuring out what your own best summer looks like, plus 50 ideas for making your life simpler all summer long. Because summer fun should be fun, not overwhelming.
3. Be open to change.
Maybe you already know just what you’re going to do this summer—but something still doesn’t feel quite right.
Try to listen to what that feeling has to tell you. Is it the kind of discontent that comes from comparison and fear, or is it a gentle nudge in a new direction?
We can complicate things by holding too tightly to the way we expected things to be. If the still, small voice inside is telling you it’s time to make a change, don’t be afraid to walk away from the plans you thought were best. Maybe your best is going to be something you never saw coming.
The Most Important Thing
And remember this: The most important thing isn’t what we do. The most important thing is why we do it.
That’s why I can breathe easy no matter how many summers I have left with my kids under one roof. It’s not about creating the perfect summer memories. Those memories are just one part of the family culture we’re living and breathing and building every day—and that doesn’t stop at the end of the summer.
Give it a try and see what you think. Grab your FREE Simpler Summer Guide, and then tell us in comments—how do you keep things simple all summer?