I just returned from vacation. You can tell, as the posting has been …relaxed. I came back to work refreshed, enthusiastic, and cheerful. As I met each patient, I asked them how their summers had been. One said, “Good!” In North Dakota, where “awesome” just means “okay”, that’s not so great. Every single other person said, “Too short.” or “Fast.” Maybe this is because we just got off 8 months of winter (the longest winter on record here since Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Long Winter.) Or maybe not.
Why is summer too short? Do we overplan and underdo? Or do we spend our precious summer days doing the same boring things we do in the winter? TV, errands, kids’ sporting events. Oh and don’t even look at me like that. You know those games are boring. That’s really why the iPhone was invented. Steve Jobs needed something to do during his kids’ soccer matches.
I think one problem is that we tend to look ahead. When July magazines and stores are already selling back to school, and August Pinterest pages start to load up on Halloween and Christmas decorating and recipes, we find ourselves in an undertow of forward thinking and planning. If we don’t start now, we won’t be ready!
Ready for what? To put a scarecrow in our front yard that’s cuter than the neighbors’?
Another problem is allowing summer to be as over-scheduled as the school year. Summer fills up with kids’ programs, camps, vacation bible school, sports leagues and you can spend your life driving just when you really want to relax with your family. Summer is also the time friends and family travel to see you, or expect you to travel to see them. While these times can be wonderful mini vacations, sometimes they’re not.
The end result is that there’s no time for fun. And summer tragically passes by, in a blur of unimportant routine.
What’s the answer? Here are some ideas that have worked for me.
Shorten your workday
In summer, I don’t network. I don’t volunteer for extra work, extra call, or evening hours. Sorry, but the kids are home in the late afternoon and evening and therefore so am I.
Limit your family commitments
If the kids want it, they can have one camp or summer sport. Actually, I did let one kid have 2 sports but that ended when we left on vacation. And vacation started when we wanted to go, not when sports ended.
Eat dinner later
Eating at 7 or 8 pm gives you two or three more hours of afternoon.
Exercise outside every day it’s not raining.
If anything will make the time pass slowly, it’s exercising in 90 degree weather.
Delay back to school shopping.
This only prolongs the agony. Later this week I’ll write about how. And finally:
Enjoy at least one summer-only pleasure every single day
We only have 3 months from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The weather is good for only a few days after this. So even if I can’t afford vacation, I can at least make a list of summer only pleasures and make a point to do one of those things on the list every day. My list includes:
Reading a book outside
What would yours include?