Happier Jump-Starts: Tips for Savoring Summer

happier-jump-starts-081014-summerI know it’s not summer everywhere in the world, but here in the my neck of the woods, it’s not just summer, summer’s nearly over—my kids go back to school tomorrow. We had a wonderful break this year, full of all the things I love to do when schedules are a bit more flexible and the weather is warm. Hopefully you still have at least a little summer left, so here’s a few ideas from my family favorites for making sure you maximize those long, warm days and late nights.

1) Go swimming after dark. I’m a big fan of the beach and all things water, anyway, and I do happen to live in the south (where summer is synonymous with heading to the pool), but even when I lived in cooler climes, it was officially summer when you went swimming at night. I don’t know why, I just know there’s a certain novelty and joy in splashing around by moonlight. This one is particularly fun with kids who’ve been allowed to stay up late for this specific purpose.

2) Take an outdoor, unplugged day with the people you love best. Ideally you get a full vacation (or two) during the nice weather, but reality doesn’t always match the fantasy. That’s fine; even a single day with loved ones, spent outdoors and electronics-free, can recharge you all. Go for a walk, go geocaching, try something totally new (we spent a day kayaking for the first time and had a blast)—it doesn’t matter. Just go.

3) Revisit old favorites. Reread the books you loved as a child. Make your kids join you for a viewing of an iconic movie from your angsty middle school years. Catch fireflies in a jar. Dance in the rain. Pick up a craft or hobby you’d set aside when life got busy. Our natural circadian rhythms mean we need less sleep during the summer (more hours of sunlight), so use that extra time for some nostalgia.

4) Plant memories for later. Love the warm breezes, blooming foliage, and the added adventures you’re enjoying right now? Take pictures, bring back souvenirs, and otherwise surround yourself with little reminders of how much fun you’re having. Come those cold, rainy/snowy days later on, things like that photo of the baby birds peeking out of the porch birdhouse will bring a smile to your face.

5) Clear out the clutter. Okay, I’ll grant you that this one doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, on the surface, but there’s a reason lots of people do “Spring Cleaning.” The ability to throw open the windows and get out after a season of being cooped up and cold seems to motivate us to get our lives in order. I don’t know about you, but around here cleaning and organization kind of falls by the wayside in favor of barbecuing and swimming, in the summer. So I like to set myself a few small decluttering projects toward the end of the season, just so that my sadness about summer ending isn’t compounded by all kinds of messes I forgot to deal with, too. Summer’s perfect for a yard sale or just a big clean-out-and-donate binge, and you’ll be happier having it done before “regular life” kicks back into overdrive.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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