“Schools Out for Summer,” when I was a kid the Alice Cooper song sent waves of joy through my being. Instead of classes, books, and teachers’ dirty looks, there’d be bike rides, kickball and capture the flag, chasing fireflies and hanging out at the town pool. My biggest dilemma was whether to spend my allowance on frozen Milky Ways or Cherry Popsicles.
Then I grew up and those carefree, summer days evaporated like water on blacktop. After college, I lived and worked in New York City. There was no escaping the oppressive heat, nowhere to swim and no time for summer fun.
Years later when I became a mom, I actually dreaded summer. I worried about how I’d entertain my kids when they complained: “MOM I’m bored!” AGAIN! With the mercury rising and extended family obligations filling my calendar, summer became a time of stress not rest.
Fortunately, I got a grip. I connected with my inner child and learned how to unapologetically enjoy summer again. This year my summer bucket list includes camping, kayaking, sunset beach picnics, outdoor jazz festivals, antiquing, and cliff diving. Heck, I live in Vermont. Winters are tough. You’ve got to celebrate summer!
Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds.
You can get that childhood joy back too, and I suggest you do because life’s too short not to soak up the sun. Here are some tips to and help you bask in the sunshine instead of sink from stress.
- Change your attitude
While we often think that external events impact our mood, life actually works from the inside out. Your thoughts generate your mood and create your reality, which is why it’s so important to work on staying happy and positive. So when you notice you’re blue or stressed examine your thoughts and then change them.
For example, when you find yourself worrying about how you’re going to entertain the kids, stop worrying and start looking forward to spending time with them. Yes, it’s a cliché but as a mother of two teens they grow up fast, so enjoy them while you can.
- Just say NO!
No is one of the most powerful words in our vocabulary, so slather it on like sunscreen. You don’t have to go to every graduation, company picnic, family reunion, block or birthday party you’re invited to. When a co-worker asks you to stay late at the office or your Mom asks you to… just say NO.
While saying YES sounds more positive than NO, you must say NO to create space for all the wonderful things you want to do this summer. Plus, saying No (especially to things you don’t want to do) decreases stress and resentment.
Not sure if an event is right for you? Imagine attending the gig and see how your body feels. If you feel tight, tired or stressed during the exercise grab your cell and text NO thank you.
Plagued by guilt because you don’t want to attend the annual family reunion that’s 250 miles away? Stop worrying what others think about you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, not yours. Do yourself a favor, become immune to the opinions and actions of others. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief.
- Whittle down your to-do-list
Don’t be ruled by your never ending to-do-list. There will always be something to clean, get rid of, deal with, purchase or change. Instead write down all the things you think you have to do over the summer from washing the car, paving the driveway and cleaning out the garage to weeding the garden. Then Next to each item write-down “do it” “delegate it” or “delete it”. Respond to each item accordingly.
- Create a summer fun to-do-list
Make a list of what you really want to do this summer. Spend a few minutes fantasizing and write down everything you can think of that you’d like to do this summer. Start a bucket-list.
Lie on the beach and get lost in a great book for hours? Sip an umbrella drink by the pool? Go camping? Take a road trip to the best burger joint or fried clam shake in the state? Go skinny-dipping under the stars? See live, outdoor music? Or one of my personal favorites —pick berries. Then choose the 3 or 4 items you really want to do, take out your calendar and schedule a times to enjoy your activities.
To help insure that you follow through with the fun, pair up with a friend or two. This summer I’m spending time with a fellow Mom who also has a teenage son, which is guaranteed to make our adventures much more fun. (I love my son Marcus but he’s a 15-year-old boy who’s favorite topics of conversation are video games, sports and zombies which can drive me crazy!)
- Care for your body
Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Summer is the time to get your body back in shape. It’s the perfect time to eat more fruits and veggies, go for long walks in the woods, get a pedicure, and say no to close toed shoes, nap or indulge in a facial or massage. Worried about putting on a bathing suit? Forget about it. Click HERE to learn how to feel confident at the beach or pool.
Just don’t skimp on sleep. While it’s easy to stay up late because days are long, get 7-8 hours of ZZZZs. Losing sleep makes your body and brain feel crappy and can increase weight gain.
- Step away from media
Forget the juice cleanse. Go for a digital detox. Unplug. Turn off your cell phone when you go out for that bike ride or hike. Trust me no one’s going to care if you go off line for a few hours. Disconnect from media and reconnect with nature and the people you love.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously
Just because you’re an adult now doesn’t mean you can’t have fun like a kid. Go to a drive in, run through a fountain or sprinkler, toss water balloons or a Frisbee, blow bubbles, draw on the driveway with chalk, open a lemonade stand, play croquet or miniature golf, build a sand castle catch fireflies, sleep outside in a tent, gaze at the stars, have a picnic, float in an inner tube down a lazy river or roast marshmallows over a campfire.
- Just breathe
Nothing connects you to the moment and transforms stress into joy like focusing on your breathing. Breathe and enjoy the best time of year starting right now and you’ll feel more like a kid again for the rest of your life.
What are you doing for fun this summer? Leave me a comment. I’d love to know.