The summer sun beats down, leaving our skin warm to the touch. The days stretch out, full of unscheduled, far-as-the-horizon-goes time. Sometimes, the minutes drag, punctuated only by the sounds of cicadas chirping in the morning and frogs crooning at night. Watermelon spills down our chins, and the nighttime breeze is the best thing to happen all day. We sit by the pool, or on the porch, or in our backyards, and have actual conversations with our neighbors and friends.
Thank God for the summer slow-down. The rest of the year races by like a merciless bullet, every minute stuffed to the gills with activities and to-do’s. Then, the months of June, July, and August slip in like a buttery piece of poetry, beckoning us to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. An invitation to catch our breath and just be.
Yes, of course, it’s hard to have more time with the kids and by extension, more time for all the battles and challenges and sassy envelope-pushing. Oh, the battles over behavior, sibling rivalry, screen time, chores, and whining. Please make the whining stop. With school out of session, there are far fewer breaks for moms. This can lead to some desperate, on-the-ledge and edge of sanity moments. No question.
Taking a step back
But, what if we take a step back, take a breath, and pick our battles? What if we allow the summer to soften us up a little bit? Let the summer heat melt off the rough edges and just be grateful for the lives we have. Let the summer slow-down relax our breathing and slow the pitter-pat of our anxious hearts. Dawdle, on purpose. Maybe even waste time.
This dawdling, leisurely pace does not come naturally to me. I’m an anxious, slightly (totally) neurotic perfectionist who thrives on getting it done. I typically start the summer with my kids by making a “Summer Bucket List” of all the activities and things we want to do during the summer months.
When I take a step back, isn’t this essentially another to-do list?
Recently, we were out for ice cream with some neighbor friends, and I asked a refreshingly-minimalist twelve-year-old what was on her summer bucket list. Her response stuck with me. She pondered it briefly and then said, “I don’t really need a summer bucket list.”
Fantastic. Just be. Embrace the summer slow-down. Resist the urge to make another to-do list. After all, when are we happiest? It’s not the grandiose, stuffed moments. It’s digging in the dirt, creating something, putting our toes in the sand, a good conversation, a perfect snuggle. It’s a shared joke, a dip in the pool on the hottest day, a sunset that makes us feel something. It’s watching the breeze ruffle the trees and listening to the sweet sounds of the cicadas and frogs.
With inspiration from our minimalist neighbor, we redid our Summer Bucket List. Instead of going to the trampoline park and the skating rink, we’re opting for some gentler, more philosophical goals this summer. Be grateful for the life we have, take life less seriously, open our hearts. The summer slow-down is in full swing.