Rushing. Running. Busy. Always on the go. Hurry up. Always moving, never stopping. Always going, never pausing. Always something to do, never slowing down.
These words are seen as a badge of honor. A way to define yourself. A way to find worth and significance in being busy. A way to find meaning in always having something to do.
And yet, throughout this last season, the world has been forced to slow down. To stay at home both for their own health and the health of those around them. To reduce their social calendars and spend more time with their families.
But even though you’ve most likely been hibernating at home (and, let’s face it, hibernating is so last year, right?), have you set the busy-ness aside?
Have you truly learned to slow down and focus on what’s most important? Or has the feeling of always being busy and always doing something just taken on another aspect? What if you could change this? What if you could take this summer and intentionally slow down and enjoy it?
It sound great, doesn’t it? But sometimes it’s not the concept that’s hard to grasp, but making the concept a reality. So how do you do it? How do you slow down and enjoy your summer?
Lazy Summer Days
When you think of summer, what do you think of? Picnics in the grass? Exploring new places? A lazy afternoon spent by a stream with a book in your hand? Bike rides along nature trails? Traveling and spending time with family and friends? Enjoying the warmth of the sun? Swimming in the pool or the ocean? Hibernating in the air conditioning waiting for fall to come?
Do you ever feel pressure that you have to enjoy summer? It’s like you wait all year for summer to come and then there’s all this pressure that you have to enjoy yourself no matter what. It’s really interesting when you stop and think about it.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, summer is a great time to enjoy life and enjoy your family. You should make the most of summer and enjoy the longer days, the increased amount of sunshine. But when you wait until summer and try to pack all your relaxing and enjoyment into this one small season, you also pack on the pressure.
So what can you do? How can you ease off the pressure of the need to enjoy summer? How can you enjoy these summer days? And not just enjoy the summer days, but find new rhythms you can keep as the year continues on?
It’s all about being intentional. Choosing what you do instead of letting outside circumstances and other people tell you what you should do. So, what do you choose? Being intentional is great, but you need to know what you’re intentionally choosing, right?
Here are 8 simple ways you can slow down and enjoy your summer. Simple things you can intentionally choose and actually do today.
#1 :: Intentionally Pause
Summer is a time where thing seem to naturally slow down. School is out for the summer. Lessons and meetings take a break. There seems to be more space to breathe.
What if you took this opportunity to intentionally pause? To give yourself a bit of space? To allow the natural rhythm of summer to speak to your soul?
We are so overwhelmed with things these days that our lives are all, more or less, cluttered. I believe it is this, rather than a shortness of time, that gives us that feeling of hurry and almost of helplessness.Laura Ingalls Wilder
Don’t get me wrong, taking time to intentionally pause is hard to do! Especially when you start with the mindset of needing to get things done and accomplish things on a to do list. If you’re struggling to slow down or struggling with the guilt of slowing down, pause and ask yourself a couple of questions. What value is found in your list? What’s more important: Producing things or cultivating relationships with people? Why do you feel like you always have to be doing something to matter?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you always have to be doing something to be considered a human being of worth. Don’t miss out on the simple moments that you only see when you slow down enough to watch them happen.
Take some time to intentionally slow down. Give yourself permission to set aside your list for a week, a day, or even an hour. Pause and just be.
#2 :: Spend Time with Your Family
I know, I know, this one can feel challenging. You may be thinking that after all this time in quarantine, you need a break from your family instead of spending more time with them, right?
But what if you started thinking about this time with your family differently? What if you made a point to be fully present in the moment and engaged with your family when you’re with them? No matter whether your spending one on one time with someone or in a bigger group of your family.
Please understand, I’m not saying you have no time for yourself anymore! Many people – myself included – need time alone to recharge so we can be the best version of ourselves when we’re with our families. But what if you made a point in those moments, those hours when you are with your family to be fully there? Fully in the conversation. Fully in the activity. Not distracted by your list or by your phone or anything else, but really there?
You see, your family will be connected to you for life. Take time to invest in them intentionally. Oh, you may not want to spend every waking moment with them, but the moments you do spend with them, make them count! Be there not just in body, but be fully present mentally and emotionally. Play games with your kids. Listen to their stories. Engage in conversation with them. Read books with them. Enjoy this time with your children. Enjoy this time with your family.
#3 :: Be Outside
Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. In our mad rush for progress and modern improvements let’s be sure we take along with us all the old-fashioned things worth while.Laura Ingalls Wilder
There are so many incredible things to explore and experience outside! From butterflies and birds and bugs in your backyard to incredible places like the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls. From hiking in the woods to spending a day at the beach. From going canoeing or kayaking on a lake to finding smaller and hidden waterfalls in the national forests.
Now, I know this one might not be comfortable. You might be more of an indoor-sy kind of person instead of an outdoor person. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you need to pack up and go to a cabin in the middle of the woods with no plumbing and no electricity to enjoy the outdoors! If that’s how you like to enjoy the outdoors, by all means, go for it! But if that thought sounds terrifying to you, start small. Start with something nearby, but get outside and enjoy the sunshine!
Look for things you can do outside together as a family. And, here’s they key: Do them! Try something new! And keep in mind this doesn’t have to be expensive. For that matter it could cost nothing. You can go on a bike ride starting from your house. You can find an interesting park within driving distance and take a day trip while bringing along a picnic lunch. Or you can take a week and rent a place on the beach or in the mountains to really make the most of that time outdoors.
No matter what you choose, get outside and enjoy some sunshine!
#4 :: Rest
So many times, rest is seen as a luxury. Something you’ll get to eventually. Something that feels too decadent to enjoy now while there’s still a list of things that needs to get done. It’s so easy to get into the groove of going, going, going all the time that you forget how vital rest is to your health. To your mental clarity. To your stress level.
And here’s the thing: If you don’t pause and take time to intentionally rest, your body will start to shut down. It’s true! There are many scientific studies that have been done showing the negative effects of lack of rest on your body and your health as well as the positive effects of building rest into your routine. Now, I’m not a scientist, but I know this is something I’ve seen and experienced in my own life. When I take the time to rest, I’m able to be there for my family in ways that I just cannot when I’m stressed out and exhausted!
Rest is not wrong. Did you hear that? Rest is not wrong! Somehow this idea that resting is weakness has permeated our culture. Instead of being seen as a necessity of life, rest is seen as a luxury. As something to be taken along with a healthy dose of guilt. Because when you’re resting, you’re not getting anything done.
But what if you are? What if resting could make you feel new again? What if resting had positive effects on other aspects of your life?
What if you could turn the tide? What if you could change this mindset, even starting in your own life and in your own family? Take time to intentionally rest. Now, I’m not saying you have to meditate for 2 hours every day to rest. If you enjoy meditating or journaling or reading, go for it! But if that’s not how you rest, find the way that works best for you.
You see, we all rest in different ways. We all recharge in different ways. Find the way that works for you. Maybe it’s a long, hot bubble bath. Maybe it’s getting lost in a good book. Maybe it’s journaling in your favorite cozy chair. Maybe it’s sitting on the porch swing doing nothing but watching the clouds and listening to the wind whisper through the trees. Maybe it’s meeting some friends for conversation over a good cup of coffee. Maybe it’s going to a concert or some live music performance. Whatever it is, find out how you rest and recharge and give yourself guilt-free permission to do so!
#5 :: Recharge Your Batteries
Recharging is a concept that goes hand in hand with resting. Think about it: How often do you feel burnt out, stressed out, at the end of your rope? How often do you wish you could take some time and recharge, fill up your tank, take a breath? So many different terms are used, but the idea behind it is the same: You need time to recharge!
Think of it like this: Picture a pitcher and that pitcher is pouring out water into glasses. Now, this pouring out is a good thing! Pouring out water is exactly why the pitcher was created, right? But when happens when the water in that pitcher runs out? You can’t pour water out of an empty pitcher. So, you go back to a source. You go and fill up your pitcher with water so you can return and continue to pour more water out of that pitcher.
The same is true in life. You cannot always be pouring out, serving others, taking care of others, and encouraging others. If you are constantly pouring yourself out, eventually there will be nothing left. Just like you cannot pour water out of an empty pitcher, you cannot give what you don’t have. So, what do you do? You go back to the source. You recharge and fill up so you can continue to pour yourself out in serving others.
But that begs the question: How do you recharge? How do you fill back up? While it would be nice to give you a simple answer, this is a question only you can answer. Each person recharges and fills up in different ways. Maybe it’s spending time in prayer and feeding your faith. Maybe it’s spending time journaling or in meditation. Maybe it’s spending time with other people in smaller groups or even bigger groups. Maybe it’s getting out and walking or going to the gym and exercising. Whatever way recharges you and fills you up, take some time and do it.
#6 :: Don’t Plan, Just Be
Take some time where you don’t plan anything. Just take the day as it comes. Now, if you’re a planner, this one can feel particularly hard! But don’t discount it simply because you like to plan. Instead, try planning a block of time, even an hour or two to start, where you intentionally plan nothing. Where you don’t have a to do list to accomplish. And just let things happen as they will.
You could take a day or an afternoon and do this same thing. Don’t plan anything in this time, just enjoy the day. Enjoy the time with your family.
I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
#7 :: Take Time for a Cool Treat
Let’s face it, summer is a time for ice cream and popsicles! This way is so simple and so much fun all at the same time. Make time to have ice cream with someone you love or enjoy a popsicle on the porch with your kids for no other reason other than you want to!
#8 :: Unplug
Unplug from it all. Does this idea sound scary to you? Does leaving the modern conveniences behind make you want to stop reading right here and right now?
Hang with me for a second and let me explain this one, okay? I’m not talking about giving up hot water or the convenience of having your dishwasher do your dishes for you. I’m talking about giving yourself a break from screens. So much of our lives are driven by computers, TVs, phones, laptops, iPads, and more. And sometimes, you just need a break!
So take a break from the screens. Now, if this completely scares you, start small. You don’t have to go off to a cabin in the middle of nowhere for a month to apply this concept. You don’t even have to go anywhere for this one. Start small and start where you are. Start with one morning or one day to give yourself and your eyes a break from staring at screens all the time.
The big idea behind unplugging is to remove those distractions to allow you to listen to your heart. To spend time with people in person. To rest and recharge. And to break away from the tyranny of the urgent.
No matter how you choose to slow down and enjoy your summer, you have to make the choice to slow down and enjoy your summer! You see, if you simply allow life to continue, life will keep going faster and faster. It’s up to you to be intentional and build in these times of pausing, resting, and enjoying relationships as a priority in your life.
And the best part of all? These 8 ways don’t just work in summer! Oh, you may want to enjoy your ice cream inside in the middle of winter instead of going out on the porch or the deck. You’ll need to make some adjustments for different types of weather. But the concepts stay the same.
I think Louisa May Alcott says it best in ‘Little Women’:
Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bing few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.
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Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.