The unofficial start of summer is upon as we celebrate Memorial Day this weekend. For those of you who are also marking the end of a school year, are you looking forward to the summer with excitement or dread? I’m personally a combination of the two. Maybe dread is too strong of a word, but there’s definitely some anxiety about the change in schedules, managing continued learning over the summer for my homework-resistant son, and being able to keep up with my work while also being present at home.
Summer can also bring great expectations of family vacations, fun barbecues, days at the beach (or reservoir for those of us in land-bound states), camping, and just a lot of outdoor fun. Like anything that we have a lot of expectations around, this can also sometimes lead to a sense of let down. With a little planning and some mindful practices to build in awareness, you can create this summer to be a fun and magical summer to remember! Here are some ideas to make the most of your time with your family this summer.
Six simple practices to create a mindful summer
1 – Create a summer fun jar – cut out pieces of paper and have a brainstorming session with your family. What do you want to do this summer? From simple activities like go for a bike ride or explore a new park to beach outings, camping trips or road trips, when you look back at the end of August what do you want to have experienced in these three months? Getting the ideas out now and adding to the jar as inspiration strikes throughout the summer will help combat those days when no one wants to do anything. Commit to choosing an activity each day or week – make it work for you!
2 – Create a daily ritual to connect with nature. Not everyone is “off ” for the summer, but we all feel that draw to spend more time outdoors. Commit to standing or walking outside barefoot for five minutes each day. Let this be your morning ritual to awaken your senses. Not a morning person, how about a lunch time or evening barefoot walk? Set the intention and make it happen.
3 – Take a daily photo. This one has so many possibilities – you can document the changes in your garden or favorite park over the summer. You can take a daily selfie or picture of your kids. How about a shot of them sleeping in each day? Having access to your camera on your phone is such a great tool for documenting special and meaningful moments.
4 – Journal about it. Buy a new journal to document your summer. Depending on the ages of your kids, they could write a memory of each week – favorite moment, hardest day, what they learned or discovered. This is also a great place to keep a gratitude list. Each night write down five things you are grateful for that day.
5 – Practice quiet time. At my son’s school, Running River School, starting in kindergarten, the children practice quiet time or stillness daily. This has been an amazing gift he has brought home and (when I remember to do it) it adds so much to our days. For as little as 20 to 30 minutes, give everyone in the house space to spend some quiet time alone. This can be spent reading, drawing, playing quietly, meditating, or watching the clouds go by. Quiet and space is all you need.
6 – Reflect and breathe. The greatest gift of mindfulness in my own life is the immediate feedback I receive internally when I am not acting in alignment with my true values. When I get impatient and snippy with my son or hear a negative self-thought in my head, it is (often) immediately followed by a sense of awareness that, that is not how I want to act. With that awareness, I can choose to step away and take a deep breath to calm my irritation. I can choose to look myself in the mirror and smile. Throughout the summer, there will be many opportunities to practice this!
Summertime can be a gift to our spirits. It can be a chance to renew and reset of minds and our bodies. Being mindful of our days and how we spend them is the key to growing a life you love.