Saving Summer

family

I thank you God for this most amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.
~E.E. Cummings

 

It’s the end of June and I don’t know where it went.

Well, yes I do actually. It went the way of 8th grade graduations and family parties, sitting outside with family and friends, barbecuing, singing karaoke, watching the kids run around and play and have the time of their life. We gardened, planted tomatoes and peppers and sat back to watch our first tomatoes turn red on the vine. Whew, it was a busy month. It also rained.  A lot. Enough that it created a built in excuse for burrowing into my office for hours and hours of writing frenzy and working on plans for a new site design. And now one entire month of the summer is gone.

For a lot of you, that may be no different than any other month, days come, days go, and one month evolves into the next with nary a blink of the eye. However we are from the Midwest. We are allotted precious few summer days, doled out like sparkling gems to be cherished. To waste one is almost a sin. Having to work during one is heartbreaking. Anguished employees struggle to keep their noses from being pressed to the glass. “It’s gorgeous out there” one will say wistfully.”

“I know, don’t remind me,” the other will reply, clutching their heart as if wounded. You think I exaggerate. No. This conversation happens all summer long.

Yet…

Come the weekend when you would expect them all to be flooding outdoors, canoeing, biking, picnicking or other recreational hobbies- they aren’t there.

They are at home. Working on their TO DO list. Getting stuff done. Meeting family obligations, cleaning out the garage. If they find TIME, then they will go play. TIME rarely comes.

Come Labor Day Weekend, all around the barbecue, will be a familiar conversation. “Where did the summer go? One day it was June 1st and the next thing we knew the kids were back in school and I can’t think of single thing we did.”

Summer has slipped through their fingers like sand on the beach. Gone. They will mourn its loss in the harsh winter snow and promise that next year will be different.

It probably won’t.

But it could be. It isn’t too late to save this summer. It takes planning and commitment and a certain proactive mindset but it can be done.

It isn’t difficult and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Think back to our childhoods. Badminton, croquet, backyard barbecue with family and friends, lightening bugs, Kick the can games and hide and seek, picnics in the park with hot dogs and baked beans, time spent on beaches building sand castles in the sun. None of it went away. We stopped taking time to do it. But we could.

The secret is getting out the calendar. Planning family time and fun time before chores and obligations suck up the summer sun. Call a family meeting. Brainstorm several fun ideas that everyone would like to do. Write them all down. During the brainstorming, let no idea be out of bounds-but explain brainstorming, you won’t be able to do them all; you will have to pick and choose. The ones that hit the top of the list go right on the calendar. Before anything else. Make it sacred. Make it a promise. Make it a summertime date.

On a sidenote, if you are doing this with kids, I have also found that with younger ones, this is a great way to introduce the concept of budgeting to them. My kids were quick to figure out that we can pick one really expensive thing on the list OR we can pick ten or twelve other ones. THAT light bulb went on very quick!

With fun things on the agenda to look forward to, balancing the TO DO list during the week has more motivation. You might find you have a little extra get up and go to throw in that extra load of laundry and the kids might not mind taking it up to their rooms so much when you remind them, you all want an early start on the fun day on Saturday instead of spending the whole day doing chores. No kids? You might want the try that reminder on yourself. It’s very motivating!

Planning for fun is a foreign concept these days in our busy overworked world. Just like our healthy eating and our exercise programs and our eight hours of sleep, fun is on the “as soon as I can get to it’ list for too many of us far too often. But having it to look forward to just might put some extra zip in your step, improve your attitude, and make your work go by faster.

It will definitely give you something better to chat about come Labor Day at the neighborhood barbecue then wondering how summer, let alone life, is slipping through your fingers.

 What are you going to do for fun this summer?

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