Do you remember the delicious last day of school, your entire unspoiled summer break stretched out before you? Can you feel the tantalizing approach of lazy days and relaxation? I love the cyclical nature of working at school! I still get to experience those feelings, though now they’re a little tempered by the panic of an end-of-year cleaning list. But what if you work the same schedule year-round? And summer weekends fill up fast with weddings, reunions, and vacations… How can we take back our break? Here are three easy ways to slow down and savor summer:
First, get out the calendar.
In order to set aside time for you and your family to take it slow, write it down. Get the kids together, phone up the pals, and make a firm date. If some once-in-a-lifetime happening comes up, this will give you flexibility to reschedule, too. My family are mostly pantsers, not planners, so they don’t always like the idea of picking a day ahead of time. They need to warm up to the idea. If I’ve got a free day in mind, I’ll pitch them the plan of a day trip a week or so early. That way, they can decide at the last minute, and I can feel prepared when the day rolls around.
You can also use the calendar to plan for everyone’s favorite summer treats: low-key suppers from the farmer’s market, making freezer jam when the local fruits are at peak, picnics with homemade ice cream, etc.
Second, make an outside summer space.
Now, don’t go on a total DIY backyard renovation (unless that’s your ideal summer). But try to move outside more this season. Here in WV, it’s nasty humid for the majority of the summer. So I make the most of the early morning and evening hours. With a few citronella candles, cheap rope lights, and outdoor rugs, I’ve transformed our boring winter patio to an outside living room. Pinterest is overflowing with ideas for quick patio perk-ups. Just keep it easy, and surround yourself with items that make you smile.
And finally — make sure you actually relax.
This can be tricky. Your mind will jabber away with all sorts of “shoulds” and “oughts”, ruining your moments of rest. (Like I mentioned in my post on creative rest, I find I get some of my best ideas when I’m trying to purposely do nothing. By all means, catch these arrows of inspiration as they whiz through your thoughts. But don’t fall into the trap of starting them right then. That’s how I ended up with a dozen unfinished, sadly abandoned projects taking up the entire surface of my desk, dining room table and half of the kitchen counter. Not restful!!)
When you catch your brain reverting to its do-list autopilot, come up with a reminder of what you really want to be doing — enjoying the present. It’s a mental reset button. Take a few deep breaths and visualize yourself in your maximum relax-imum mode. If you still have trouble, create a playlist that melts the tension away. After a few intentional appointments, you’ll find your relaxation ritual will begin to reinforce a fantastic summer habit: takin’ it easy.
Time moves fast; summer time, doubly so. Catch your breath and soak up precious moments this year before the weeks slip away.
NOW YOU: What are your favorite summer memories? What projects do you want to complete this summer?
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