5 Steps to Having a Simpler Summer

Have you ever seen the movie YES DAY!? It's a family favorite around here as it shows a family in desperate need to connect. And the poor mom, oh, how I can relate to her. Raising three children of various ages, one being a teen daughter that is growing up way too fast, Jennifer Garner (who stars as the mom) begins to come to grips with the fact that the relationship with her children (especially her teen) is morphing into something new. A kind of new that she isn't quite sure how to embrace. Basically, she is at her wit's end, trying to do "all the things" only to feel like she is running on empty. So, this family decides to have a "yes day" to bring fun into their lives and reconnect.

Now that summer is around the corner, children will all be home from school, and the thought of trying to keep them busy and somewhat off their phones (if you have tweens and teens) may feel rather daunting. I get it! Maybe you want to reconnect with the family but aren't really sure where to begin. Maybe a "yes day" isn't quite the answer, but you know something is needed in order to keep everyone (including you) from going crazy!

Simplify Your Summer

Let's start with a mind shift of sorts. Simplifying doesn't have to mean you won't have any fun or that your summer days will be filled with boredom with the kids asking, "What are we doing?" every single second. It just means you don't have to pack every day with tiresome events that will leave you wishing your children were back in school after having them home for less than a week.

Summertime can be either a wonderful time to bond with your family, or it can quickly turn into a time warp that is constantly consumed with stress and filled with a tinge of guilt and resentment. If I were being honest, having sixteen summers already with my oldest daughter, we have shared sweet, tender times that have fed my momma heart to frustrating moments that have brought about guilt and shame. 

While this summer will not be much different and will come with its own unique highs and lows, I am striving to cultivate simplicity. Knowing I only have two more summers with my oldest, I want to make each of these summers count and bring in memories that she will be able to carry with her and tuck in her heart for a lifetime. 

And by cultivating simplicity, I mean to take the pressure off (of myself mostly) and embrace the season we are in, utilizing this time to connect in simple ways our family will always remember. From the unexpected ice cream trip to the tickle fights to how we open our homes' doors to their friends, to binge-watching their favorite shows, and so on. There is no need to "do all the things" and run yourself ragged. The only need we should have is to create a space to connect and bond with our children in a meaningful way.

So, are you ready to have a simple yet fun summer? Below are five ways to cultivate a simpler summer and reconnect with your precious people. 

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/monkeybusinessimages

1. Pre-Plan Activities

It's always a good idea to have some activities already pre-planned. That way, when they come to you with the infamous "I'm bored," you can direct them to one of the activities. It's fun to sit around as a family and think of things you all want to do this summer, put it on a chart, and hang it up somewhere. It can be like a summer bucket list. It doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate; actually, most can go relatively easy on the wallet or even be free. However, it may be worth your while to take a trip to the craft store for supplies. If you need some ideas to get your family started, here  you go:

Have a Picnic Outside

Run in Sprinklers or Hit up a Splashpad

Go to the Park or Museum

Bake Cookies and Surprise a Neighbor, Family, or Freind

Ride Bikes or Take a Hike

Look at Local Deals on a Discount Site like Groupon

2. Rainy Days

count it all joy, smiling in the rain

Photo credit: ©Getty/Kerkez

On those days when the weather isn't cooperating, it can add a little restlessness in the house, but if you already have a "game plan" and some ideas put in place ahead of time, you can make a rainy day a fun one! You can create a rainy-day list of activities such as hide and seek in the house or put together a rainy-day basket. Place crafts, games, puzzles, and books in there that your family doesn't usually play with; that way, you can "re-introduce" them on a gloomy, dark day.  

3. Build in Time for Yourself

The truth is, as much as we may love our little people, we do need time to refuel and get quiet. That could be stepping outside and sitting on a swing, listening to the birds for a bit while you have a quiet moment with the Lord (and a cup of coffee). Or, it could mean taking an extra-long shower or bath, but do take that time to gain peace and do so guilt-free. 

If you work from home, you understand the need for a little peace and quiet to concentrate, and it may be harder to come by when all the children are home. Build in that work time, and establish boundaries as needed or find time to do something you are passionate about. Creating that space will allow you to be more present when bonding with your family.

4. Tech Free Time/Day

While we have established rules and restrictions on our teen's phones, it is still a source of contention in our home. We don't always see eye-to-eye on the boundaries set in place when it comes to these devices, but when they stay glued to them for a long period, we have noticed that it brings about a different demeanor in our children. That being said, sometimes it's good to just disconnect from the screens altogether for a while. 

Have an open discussion with your children or teens and agree on what works for you and your family. Creating a space for them to use the screens safely and then setting a time to put them away completely allows you to bond face-to-face and connect as a family.

5. Say Yes!

Going back to the movie (YES DAY!) mentioned above, I got to thinking about how my initial go-to answer as a mom is usually, "No." Maybe you can relate? 

This summer, I am making it a point to say yes more often. Yes, to fun. Yes, to time together. Yes, to spontaneity. Yes, to crazy, out of the normal ideas. Yes, I know the sound of that may not sound fun if you are an initial "no" person like me. But, when we strive to bond with our children and cultivate simple joy, it starts by saying yes!

Say yes to another scoop of ice cream. Say yes to taking that long drive to the next city and running around at a new park. Say yes to that playday, that board game, and that snuggle time. Say yes and watch how it creates special memories. 

And there you have it, my friend. These are just a few ways to cultivate a simply sweet summer. May God bless you and your family as you connect and share meaningful experiences!

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Choreograph

Alicia SearlAlicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy.  Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

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