I don’t know about you, but I really want to slow down this summer. I think it’s because I grew up in a time and place when summer for kids meant lots of freedom and relaxation. The kids in my neighborhood didn’t follow a jam-packed schedule of camps and programs; we just hung out with our friends, went to camp for a week, and maybe took a trip with the family.
And we thought summer was just about perfect. So now, even though many years have passed since those idyllic summers, I still think summer should look different from the rest of the year – a little more relaxed and a lot more fun. In other words, I want to slow down this summer.
The reality for most women, however, is that summer isn’t very different from the rest of the year. Schedules don’t magically divest themselves of commitments, and responsibilities don’t suddenly come to a screeching halt, just because the calendar says “June,” “July” or “August.”
So except for, perhaps, a week or two of vacation, summer isn’t particularly fun or relaxing for many women. (And when they do take a vacation, they may need to be intentional to make sure that it’s fun and relaxing.)
Fortunately, I think we can change this pattern. We can’t go back to the carefree summers of childhood, but we can create something that’s different from the busy routine of September – May. The secret is making small, short-term changes in our lives that reduce stress and give us some space to kick back, relax, and make happy memories. Here are 6 simple things you can do to slow down this summer:
6 Ways to Slow Down this Summer
• Simplify one or two areas of your life.
What activities absorb lots of your time and energy, over and over again? Maybe it’s washing and folding the laundry, managing clutter in the house, cooking and cleaning up the kitchen, dealing with paperwork, or transporting kids to activities. It could be anything you do regularly that leaves you feeling depleted or frustrated.
Identify two of those areas, and figure out a way to simplify them for the summer. For example, consider hiring a young teen in your neighborhood or church to help with routine tasks, like folding laundry. Or let her or him play with your younger children while you get some things done. Research and implement a simple process for dealing with clutter. Plan and fix simple meals. Take a little bit of time on Sunday afternoon or evening to prep food for the week. Figure out an activities schedule that keeps you from becoming a one-woman taxi service. Or do something else that will make your life a bit easier this summer. Pick two things that are causing stress for you, and figure out a way to simplify them.
What are two things you could simplify this summer?
• Let go of one area of responsibility, at least temporarily.
If you’re a person who takes on lots of responsibilities, consider letting one of them go for the summer, or at least part of the summer. Maybe you need to take time off from fundraising for the soccer league or coordinating social activities for your neighborhood.
Or perhaps you need to take July off from teaching Sunday School or volunteering. Pick something that takes a fair amount of time and energy, and let it go for a while. Use that time instead to relax and enjoy the summer with your husband and family.
What’s a responsibility you could let go of this summer?
• Make a list of 3 things you really want to do – and do them.
Make summer a little different and a bit special by doing at least 3 fun things. Think about things you’ve been wanting to do but just haven’t had the time. They can be small or large; a reasonable approach might be to pick one small thing (in terms of time and/or money), one medium thing, and one big thing.
I’m working on this right now for my own summer. My husband and I have a vacation planned for July (a big thing), and I’m really looking forward to that – especially since travel has been so limited due to COVID. I’m also taking a short trip with my sisters in June (a medium thing). And I’m going to take 2 or 3 Fridays off work, to create some long weekends.
What are some activities you could reasonably do in the next three months that could make summer a bit more fun and relaxing for you?
• Plan some downtime.
Don’t run on “full steam” all summer. Instead, throttle things back by including some downtime in your days. Make time to sit outside after dinner with your husband, go for walks, read books, enjoy a hobby, watch movies as a family – any of the kinds of things that never seem to “fit” into a family’s busy schedule.
My approach to getting more downtime this summer has been to create a relaxing area on our back deck to be very intentional about using it regularly to relax at the end of the day.
What could you do to create some downtime for you and your family this summer?
• Institute some summer traditions.
Make summer different from the rest of the year by establishing summer traditions. Eat dinner outside regularly, plan a family video night once a week, go out for ice cream or make ice cream sundaes at home on Sunday night, visit a park or playground one morning a week (before it gets too hot), pick strawberries or blueberries, or make special summer food – anything that creates fun, positive memories for you and your family.
One of my favorite summer traditions is to eat dinner on the deck (whenever it’s not 95 degrees at dinner time!). And when our kids were little we created a tradition of going to a farm to get peaches in early July, then going out for ice cream.
What are some summer traditions you could create or reinstate this summer?
• Cultivate sex and intimacy in your marriage.
Few things can produce more relaxation or create a better frame of mind than good sex with your husband. Sex and intimacy can also help your marriage and your life in general rise above the routine and mundane; it helps to bridge the gap between you just slogging through your busy, stressful routine and you and your husband enjoying and building a life together. Not just in the summer, but all year long.
And summer is often a great time to cultivate sex and intimacy. There’s something about warmer air, longer days, and lighter clothing that promotes a sexier state of mind. (And floral, summery essential oils can promote that sexier feeling too.) Even the foods we eat in the summer are more conducive to that state of mind than those we eat in the winter. So this summer, take the time and make the effort to cultivate sex and intimacy in your marriage. (If you aren’t sure where to begin, check out our favorite Sex and Intimacy articles and the Sex and Marriage Resources page.)
What are some simple things you could do to boost sex and intimacy in your marriage this summer?
What do you think? Is it possible to make summer a little more fun and relaxing than the rest of the year? What are your tips for making that happen? Please share your ideas in the Comments – I’d love to hear from you.
Hi Gaye, I love this post. So often people are rushing from one event to the next. Summertime is all about relaxing on the boat for us. Let the relaxation begin!
Thank you, Ellen. I am trying to be in relaxation mode more this summer, but it takes a bit of effort!
Gluten Free A-Z says
This is my first time on your blog, and I love the fabulous use of color! Your post has some great ideas that remind us that we have to make the time to enjoy and not just fill every minute with activities. Great advice! Thanks
Thank you so much! I love the color too and cannot take much credit for it, as a friend created the design for me. I hope that the post does give you some good ideas for slowing down and enjoying the summer. It is really a reminder to myself, so that I don’t get to August feeling like summer has passed me by!
Adelien Tan says
I think I have to be as relaxing as you list. Well, I rarely have any vacation during the summer break, but I will try to make more peaceful life. Thank you for sharing at Family Fun Friday.
Thank you, Adelien. I hope you can relax a bit and enjoy a peaceful life this summer.
I think we do more in the summer months because it’s just too darn cold to leave the house in the winter. We get to hang out at the neighbor’s fire pit for BBQs (bring the bug spray!).
Thank-you for helpful tips on how to get the most out of my summer. It flies by way too quickly and before I know it September will be here again.
Thanks Sonja. I agree – we have to be intentional or the summer will be gone before we know it!
Thank you so much for sharing this! Things I definitely want/need to implement! Thank you for sharing at the #summerfamilyfun link-up! I hope you’ll join us again next week!
Holly @ http://www.iwillservewhileiwait.blogspot.com
Thanks Holly! I hope some of the ideas work for you.
Helen Neale (@KiddyCharts) says
Thanks so much for this – some great, practical ideas for us all – I really do need to be more organised about the summer! Thanks for linking up to the Parenting Pin it Party this week.
Thanks so much, Helen.
Having a “plan” to do some of the things that we always say “maybe this summer…” is what I’m trying to do this year. I don’t want the days to go by and be lost forever! I’ve instituted a schedule with several hours during the day and evening that are “no electronics” to keep everyone involved with each other and not zoned out all day! 🙂
Hi Nicole – That is such a good idea. I think that establishing a plan and actually following it is the key to having things the way you want them to be!
HI Gaye! This is such good advice. I look forward to summer for all of the reasons you have listed here. It is different than the rest of the year. We still have plenty packed into our schedule with summer sports and football which goes all summer for my teenager, but things are different. I love to sit and watch my little guy get a hit at baseball and jump up and down on the base because he made it there. I just feel healthier with fresh air in my lungs and I do all that I can to get as much as I can. I’m planning a day off of work to spend with just my daughter next week. We have her dance recital that evening so I thought rather than racing to get everything ready for her in time, I would relax through the day and really enjoy getting her ready for her performance. I’m really looking forward to it.
Good advice. We’ve got family in and out visiting all summer long, so I need to figure out a way to enjoy the family time and structure my summer so that I don’t get frustrated with my work schedule.
Hi Michelle – Visiting family can really get in the way of a relaxing summer! I hope you figure out a way to keep your sanity and enjoy some downtime too.
Pure Grace Farms says
Great post Gaye filled with practical tips that can work for everyone. I’m jotting down fun things to do and plan on scheduling a little free time to do them. Thanks for the nudge!
Hi Shari – I hope that approach works for you. I think we all need a little “fun time” in the summer.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Brittnei Washington says
I wonder how this will work out for me as my kids get older as a home schooler. I see a lot of home schoolers break during summer but I think I want to spread out our activities a bit so we are always learning and having fun. I know I may be a little younger than you, but I remember summers to be a little closer to what you described back in the day. We did go to camp but not every year and not the entire summer. We spent lots of time outside, taking trips and going to the beach. I personally don’t have a lot of tips per se just because much of this is what I work on year round and also, I know it might depend on people’s schedules. A lot of what I do can almost always get done later or when I want it to so I have that flexibility. I know with work and school schedules working around that can get complicated. 🙂
Hi Brittnei – Yes, I think that the summer schedule may look quite different for homeschoolers, especially if you’re trying to keep the learning and fun going year round. My thought in writing this is that many wives and moms never give themselves a break, and that summer might be a good time to do that. I think you probably have a very balanced approach to learning, taking care of responsibilities, and having fun too, which is exactly what all women need.
Thanks so much for stopping by. Have a great weekend.
I love these ideas. I try to really keep life simple most of the time so that we can enjoy life! I used be of the idea that the busier you are the better but in the last few years I am only doing the things I LOVE to do and that has made a huge difference!
Hi Sandra – I have to admit that I have learned a lot from my husband in this area. He has never been a “more is better” kind of guy when it comes to just adding more “stuff” to his or the family’s schedule. I used to be a bit of a “more is better” kind of gal, but have backed away from that over the years. Like you, I’m trying to focus on doing the things I really WANT to do.
Thanks for stopping by.
Betty Taylor says
I love warm weather and summer. It is really the best time of year for me.
Thanks Betty! Me too.
Great post, Gaye! I try to do everything I can to savor summer!
Thanks Amy! I do too, but I have to be intentional about it.
Great new site design!
Thanks so much, Rhonda!
Carrie Lynn Ingles Groneman says
Fabulous post Gaye! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your new site and your picture is lovely!!! Looking forward to more wonderful insights and tips. Carrie, A Mother’s Shadow
Thanks so much, Carrie! I am really thrilled with the new design.
I like the simplify and less is more message! And thanks for pointing my way!
I think it’s definitely possible to have a relaxed Summer. But then again, I’m not a fan of full calenders at any time or season.
Thanks so much. Your approach to the calendar is probably keeping you saner than the average mom! I think it’s smart.
This is all a great list of suggestions of ways to enjoy this summer more. I do believe we could all benefit from implementing these ideas in our lives.
By the way, I love the new look!
Thanks so much for the kind words.
Just stopping by to say Hello from Motivation Monday– I LOVE the look of your site! This morning, I’m clinging to your idea to make small, short-term life changes–great advice.
Thanks Mitzi! I hope the idea is helpful to you this summer.
Jim Mandoli says
I recommend the “Book of Sex” by OSHO. It’s a great practical read. It shows the importance of prelude and postlude, not just the climax and orgasm…
Thanks Jim. I will check out that book.