There are a few times each year when it feels like life gives you a “fresh start” and a blank calendar stares you in the face with empty squares of possibilities. The most obvious time of the year is when January 1 rolls around. New Year! New Beginning! New Year’s Resolutions! (…. Let’s just not talk about whether those resolutions actually stick or not!)
Another time I feel this way is typically at the beginning of the school year. Whether you do public school, private school, or homeschool, there is something about those “first day” photos, fresh new supplies (and/or new curriculum if you homeschool like we do) that brings a bit of excitement for what the year may bring.
The third and final time of the year that I get that “fresh start” feeling is when May rolls around, and my thoughts turn to the quintessential summer months of June, July, and August. I absolutely LOVE dreaming about and planning for memorable summers! Whether it is as simple as meeting up with friends for afternoons at the pool or as adventurous as a week-long family vacation, there is no doubt that many core memories are made in the summer. Newsfeeds, inboxes, advertisements, and even the simplest of google searches provide us with more intriguing options for summer than we can possibly ever conquer. Months ago, I started my “list” of all the things I may want to do with my kids this coming summer. And there are some great things on that list – mainly our weekly “Terrific Tuesday” outings that we do with friends throughout the summer.
But now, as we are on the brink of summer…. counting down to that much anticipated “last day of school” …I have decided to change my approach a bit this year. Instead of maxing out our time with the never ending “to do” list of summer fun, I am choosing to instead tackle our schedule from a different angle. This summer, I am making a “What we are NOT doing” list rather than a typical “summer bucket list” or “summer fun checklist.”
Why? Well, I am not certain I am able to answer that question. Am I just craving simplicity? Do I need more brain space? I’m not sure exactly how this is going to go, but I think it is worth a try. Will it leave us with more margin in life? Will it give our minds and bodies a much-needed break? Will we have more time to do things that are truly important? To me, I think the best way to find out WHY this is important is to experience a summer built around what “not to do” vs a summer packed with pre-set obligations.
So, here is my list for our family:
WHAT WE ARE NOT DOING THIS SUMMER:
- OVERSCHEDULING: We are not planning to fill every waking hour with scheduled activities. Other than our weekly “Terrific Tuesday” planned outing with friends, we want the rest of our time to be available for impromptu family time, slow days at home, reading, serving others, and whatever other priorities seem to rise to the top.
- SCREEN TIME: Several years ago, we tried a version of “screen free summer” and it was a very good thing. While a video game here or there can be fun, it can often generate constant an unending broken record player of “when” and “how much” can we play/watch and “that’s not enough” over and over and over. When you take that option off the table, kids are released from that nagging pull for their attention. So, it’s a no screen summer for us (with the exception of any long road trips in the car or family movie nights)!
- SOCIAL MEDIA: Like so many things in life, social media is one of those things with both pros and cons. I love the ability to keep up with acquaintances. I enjoy “following” organizations and pages that match my interests. However….you do not need a laundry list from me listing all of the “cons” of social media. We all know what they are. So, for me, its bye-bye social media for me this summer. Instead, I want to use that time to invest in REAL connections with friends.
- BEING LAZY: While I am sure we will have plenty of time to relax this summer, we see some opportunities to step it up just a bit (or a lot) with household chores, taking responsibility for cleaning up our own messes, and taking care of our home and what we have.
- THINKING ONLY OF OURSELVES: In the humblest way I can say it, we want this summer to be about more than ourselves. There are folks with needs all around us. It is my hope that eliminating many of the previously mentioned items will free up our time and attention to see these needs whether they are in our own household, with family, with neighbors, with friends, or just in the community.
What else would you add? Can I challenge you to make your own “what we are not doing list” for this summer? Or maybe even commit to just ONE thing of your own of what you are NOT doing this summer?
Now, let’s bring on summer!