Summer is upon us, and—just like that—it’s already getting away from us. Can you believe we just finished celebrating the 4th of July last week?
Before the remainder of summer slides swiftly away, we want to take a moment to reflect on what we want to truly savor this summer—the sweet, simple summer pleasures that make this season feel complete.
We started thinking of this as a checklist of sorts, of things we want to make sure to do this summer (things the kids want to do, too, of course!), but checklists (though we do love our checklists) have a way of imposing stress, somehow, and by nature require checking things off…and we don’t want this to end up as just one more thing added to the never-ending to-do list.
So…we came up with the idea of #simplesummerpleasures:
You might remember that we used to do #soulintheseason posts, and this idea is very much an extension of that. Some of the most joy-inducing parts of life are the seasonal shifts and traditions, anticipating them, savoring them, and looking back on them as fond memories. We want to be intentional about enjoying the seasons, but we want to keep it simple.
Below, we each describe a few of the simple things about summer that really make the season pleasurable, things we want to savor and experience before the days grow shorter and the usual grind of the fall begins.
To me, summer is synonymous with slow. (Such a lofty goal, I know.) Slow, of course, is more what I wish summer would be, what I dream of summer being, even though it often isn’t. Inevitably, work speeds up for me in the summer months, rather than slowing down. (Luckily, my employer lets me work from home more in the summer, and so the lack of hustle every morning just to get out the door makes me feel like the pace is somewhat slower, even if the workload isn’t.)
The kids are out of school for the summer, and I’m so lucky to have a Mom who lives nearby and wants to spend time with my girls during the week. They take swimming lessons, go on walks, visit the library weekly to participate in the summer reading program, go to the beach, and just hang out and play outside. I have to admit, I feel quite a bit of Mommy guilt for not signing them up for more camps over the summer. The answer to that dreaded question from other parents, “What are your kids up to this summer?” seems like it shouldn’t be “Ummm…watching a lot of cartoons??” but, admittedly, there is some of that on lazy summer mornings, and if I’m being honest, I’m okay with it, even if it feels a bit under-achieving. For now, with my own 6- and 8-year-olds, at least, the “less is more” approach to summer fits the slower pace we all needed as we collapsed into summer after an arduous school year.
And with slow as my mantra, I’ve also tried not to go too crazy with scheduling up our weekends as a family. We’re fortunate to live in a tourist town that comes alive in the summer, near water, and so the need to leave on vacation just isn’t there. Simple activities like walking down to let the girls jump off the neighborhood docks to swim, anchoring in the bayou, driving 10 minutes to a Lake Michigan beach, having campfires with our neighbors on a random Friday night (S’mores and sparklers included), and eating grilled burgers, watermelon, berries, peaches, and garden tomatoes like it’s our job…these are all things that don’t require too much effort, planning, or running around…but they make summer really feel like summer to me.
Growing up summer was my favorite time of year; school was out, which meant my mom was home, and the pool cover was off. I have vivid memories of eating lunch in wet swimsuits followed by games of Marco Polo and rounding out the afternoon with a treat of ice cream drumsticks nearly every. single. day. But it wasn’t just the swimming I loved, it was playing in the creek and swinging from the willow branches with our neighbors, going for bike rides, and catching fire flies to fill my bug jug. The days were long and simple and sweet.
It didn’t happen overnight, it was a slow, gradual shift, but over the years my perception about this season has changed and sadly, not for the better. Being in the construction industry work-wise, this is our busy season. Add baseball season on top of that and then remember that our “areas of maintenance” have now doubled as we include gardening and weeding and mowing to the weekly chores (ha! Weekly is sometimes a bit of a stretch around these parts) and oh yeah, that’s why I kind of dread this season; because no matter how hard I try, I can never keep up with it all. I went into this summer thinking it was going to be so much better, so much easier, since I’m no longer working, but that just hasn’t been the case, it’s been different, that’s for sure, but I wouldn’t say easier.
As I prepped for our week Up North at our family cabin and thought about the fact that when we got home the month of June would be over, I realized that if I’m not careful this whole season will be over before I know it. I made a conscious decision right then and there to savor every bit of the remainder of this season – to not only have ice cream but to enjoy my ice cream. At the cabin I watched my kids (and their cousins) jump from the dock with wild abandon, we kayaked and witnessed a blue heron take flight right before our eyes (to which Stella exclaimed, “Flamingo!”), and we listened to the loon call over the lake. One evening one of my boys said to me, “wow, the days feel so long up here!” I smiled and nodded my head in agreement – I knew exactly what he was talking about, long and simple and sweet.
BLT’s and watermelon for dinner, looking for constellations under the night sky, s’mores by the campfire, berry picking and pie making, and feeling the sand under my feet….there’s a good chance my garden is going to get weedier and my school room isn’t going to be completely organized before we dive into lessons again, but I’m not going to let that stop me from savoring what’s left of this season.
We’d love to hear what simple summer pleasures you’re currently enjoying, too! If you’re following us on instagram @thesunlitpath, use the hashtags #simplesummerpleasures and #soulintheseason so that we can see how you’re savoring your summer. Or, post a pic here on our Facebook page of your #simplesummerpleasures!