Are you ready for a summer break, but concerned because your plate is just as full as ever?
We don’t always choose to be busy, and there are some seasons when life whirls us along and we simply have to do our best to take it in stride and live as intentionally as we can.
But whatever’s on your plate right now, take a deep breath before you plunge into summer. An hour spent planning and resolving will re-calibrate you for the season ahead so you’ll enjoy it more and get more out of it.
You should never waste something as magical as a summer. So, for all my fellow busy homemakers out there, here are 5 practical ways to make the summer months run smoothly (and help you flourish in this season!).
5 Strategies for Planning and Enjoying an Intentional Summer:
1. Use a Rotating Menu
Meal planning is smart any time of the year, but it’s especially helpful in summertime when your schedule can vary wildly from week to week. Instead of trying to come up with a brand-new meal plan each week, take 20 minutes now to write down a list of meals that you can cycle though repeatedly. You might want to come up with a month’s worth of supper ideas and then work through the list two or three times, or you might find that picking two week’s worth of meals is sufficient.
I opted for a list of 14 meals, so we’ll be having each meal about twice per month. For us, that’s enough variety–plus we’ll likely have some deviations when we go out to eat or have a family gathering.
Keep your meal ideas simple, and include dishes that you can easily customize. For instance, Fried Rice is a great choice because you can vary it according to what vegetables or meat you have on hand that week. You’ll also want to avoid using the oven as much as possible, unless you want to be burnt to a crisp in your kitchen. Choose meals that you can prepare on the stove top, in the toaster oven, on the grill, or that aren’t cooked at all.
2. Pick (and Plan) Your Top Projects
If you’re like me, you begin summer with an inflated view of how many things you’ll get done. But summer tends to speed by, doesn’t it? Instead of turning your to-dos into a bottomless bucket list, be realistic and prioritize just a few key projects. Spread out your calendar and count up exactly how many weeks you have at home.
I estimated that I had about 8 to 10 weeks of summer, but when I consulted the calendar I realised I had about 8 weeks from the last day of school to the first day of teacher inservice. Two of those weeks our family will be split up or traveling. With only about 6 weeks of “downtime” at home, I’m planning just 6 small projects I want to accomplish.
Instead of crowding your schedule with all the miscellaneous things you’ve been “putting off til summer,” choose just a handful of high-impact projects to focus on. Allow one day every week or two to be your “little things” day where you cross off as many random tasks as possible. The little things are limitless, and if you’re not careful they can boss you right out of your goals.
Tip: My favourite way to store and organise my goals and projects is in my list journal!
3. Make a Bucket List (for the fun things)
Aside from projects, you should have plenty of summer-soaked ideas for fun things you want to experience. Go ahead and crowd your bucket list with as many summery things as you can think of. You know you won’t do them all, but making the list gets you excited about summer, helps you notice the small pleasures as they come, and at the end of the season shows you just how many wonderful memories you’ve made.
4. Have a Daily or Weekly Template (that’s easy to break)
I’m sure you’ve heard that kids thrive with structure. Well, I think adults do, too. Think about your family’s needs for the summer and write up samples of both daily and weekly schedules. These schedules will be the springboard for any variations you make, and they’ll be the fallback plan when you need a simple, pre-made decision.
For our family, we’re keeping our daily rhythm pretty similar to what we do in the school year. Little Dude’s afternoon nap provides an anchor for our day, although we may have slightly later wake up and bedtimes. On a weekly basis, we’ve planned out theme days–Mondays for family day, Tuesdays and Wednesdays for mama’s workdays, Thursdays at Grandma’s house, etc. At the start of each week we can switch themes around as needed–for instance, have family day on Tuesday when the zoo is half price, instead of Monday.
Make a loose schedule and then expect to be flexible. But do make that schedule and then okay it with your family–this will ensure you’re all on the same page and your expectations aren’t completely dissonant from each other.
5. “Summarize” Wherever You Can
One of the most effective ways to have an intentional summer is to fully embrace summer’s distinct flavour and feel. If you want the weeks of summer to feel like those warm, expansive, sun-splashed, juicy days you remember from childhood, you need to guard them from melting into similitude. Summer shouldn’t look the same as fall or winter or any given time of year.
Summer-ize your days wherever you can to sharpen that focus on what makes summer unique.
- Normal family dinner? Eat it outside, and you’re summer-izing.
- Playing in a grassy park? Summerize by taking off your shoes.
- Making dessert? Serve a fruit-filled pie that’s specific to what’s in season.
Basically, just take the normal things you do and infuse them with summer.
A well-spent summer is completely within your reach, no matter how busy you are. The key is to go into it prepared, and to appreciate all the little tokens of summer as they come.
Get more Busy Girl’s Guides here:
P.S. Want some accountability for living deeply this summer? Join my friend Kayse’s Intentional Summer Challenge!