Six Tips To A Successful Summer

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Summer is my favorite time of the year! 

School is out, the weather’s nice, and that wonderful sunshine is already freckling shoulders and providing missing vitamin D from the winter months. Longer days and warmer weather brings opportunity for fun, friendship, family events! It can also bring chaos of undefined schedules, potential exhaustion from overextending, and disappointment from unmet expectations. I’ve had summers that have been phenomenal and ones where I felt defeated before they even began. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tips that GUARANTEE summer to be a success. If you feel like summer is out of control, I can assure you, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the summer RIGHT NOW! Here are 6 things you can start TODAY that will ensure a successful summer!


#1 Be Kind to You

When the summer hits, the schedule goes out the window and self-care can be the first thing to fall off the to-do list. Your body, your mind, and your emotions need your tender loving care alongside the super-fun hustle and bustle that a summer schedule can bring. 

Get the whole family in on the self-care routine! Everyone can benefit from stewarding their bodies and minds well.

Taking care of your mind with affirming thoughts from scripture and encouraging literature is just as vital as feeding your body with proper nutrition. Feed your body with fresh summer foods and feed your mind with fresh lasting truths. 
Practical Tips: 

Eat well, move often, hydrate.

Have fresh fruit and veggies washed and ready to grab as an anytime snack. This encourages positive snacking and curbs mindless eating out of boredom. 

You can read a devotional in the morning at breakfast with the family to start the day off on a positive note. 

Schedule regular family downtime on busy weeks; naps and rest time aren't just for toddlers and babies! 

Moderate screen time and allow yourself only as much screen time equal to physical activity to minimize the "zombie effect" it can have on the kiddos and the discontent that mindless scrolling can do for us mommas.


#2 Manage Expectations

When you have realistic expectations, there's so much opportunity to thrive, reach your summer goals, and simultaneously enjoy working and resting. 

As a family, everyone has a different opinion of what a fun summer looks like. 

Taking a brief assessment of what that means to each member of the family can identify a successful summer for your crew while also shedding light on what is possible for your family (and what is not).

Practical Tip: 

Instead of pulling a random "Summer Bucket List" off of Pinterest, list 1 or 2 "must do" summer activities and have a conversation around how and when this activity will take place. If it is an unrealistic expectation, the conversation of "how and when" will help explain why the activity can not be achieved this time around and will open opportunities to discuss alternative activities.


#3 Abandon Perfection 

This can be one of the easiest tips of the summer if you let it! We've already addressed managing expectations, so this isn’t about lowering the bar, it’s about taking a break from having everything in it’s place 100% of the time. Life isn’t perfect and the sooner we let go of perfection and embrace reality of the good in the middle of mess, we will be much happier, mommas. 

Practical ways to go with the flow. 

Instead of focusing on the small missteps that make you feel the urge to force picture-perfect scenarios, celebrate small victories. This is practiced by using "but IS" or "but ARE" thoughts. By listing what is frustrating and also the important victory in the moment, you can abandon perfection in a practical way.

Examples:

"The dishes may be piled in the sink instead of the dishwasher but the kitchen table IS cleared and ready for that family board game."

"Everyone is not warring fully coordinated outfits for church and your youngest made it out the door with pants two sizes too small but you ARE all on time and ready to worship."

My house isn't as updated or modern but there ARE friends coming over today who care more about my company than my living space."


#4 Be Engaged

Nothing kills the current moment more than dreaming about where you're going or looking back on where you've been.

Being present means you choose in the very moment to be available. Putting aside the frustration of yesterday or the hope of tomorrow will place you right where you are in the moment. Let's not overthink but instead, let your presence with your friends and family be the magic of the moment.

One of the best ways to be actively engaged in the moment is to let the feelings of yesterday or tomorrow pass by. Meaning, acknowledge them, and then move forward with your attention on today. Fighting so hard to reject the future to be present is actually distracting you away from your current moment. Stuffing away the past does the same thing. 

Practical Tip: Acknowledge what is distracting to move into the present moment

By simply telling yourself, yes, what happened earlier affected me but I will live for today, you are able to acknowledge and move on. When you remind yourself that you have prepared a time to focus on the future, (but that is not in this moment), it snaps you back into the reality of here and now. This is when you can really live life! You can enjoy a day at the pool without being distracted about the stress of the week. You can experience true joy when you are with your family instead of the nagging feelings of needing to have closure of feelings from the past. 


#5 Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude 

Being grateful is a secret weapon that automatically kills whatever is attacking your summer success. There is literally nothing better than the mindset shift that happens when you choose thankfulness. No matter what you're struggling with, gratitude can bring hope to any situation.

Feeling overwhelmed? Stop and be thankful for what you have. It's an instant way to prioritize. I promise it will help calm you down and throw things into perspective on what is most important in the moment.

Feeling Envious? Wishing that life were a tiny bit different? It's hard to be jealous of someone or something when you see how much you have to appreciate in your own life. 

Feeling Grief? Maybe this summer isn't the plan you wanted and it's out of your control. Honest gratitude cannot deny that there is still something good in life. 
Practical Tip: Exercise gratitude by acting out mindful ways to connect with what you are grateful for. You can do this by yourself or your family. Take time every morning to write out 15 things you are thankful for. Encourage your family to do the same. 

Or, at meal times, have everyone go around the table and list a few things that they are grateful for. Maybe the person with the most unique answer gets the first serving of dessert that evening! 


#6 Seek Authentic Whimsy 

Whimsy is the secret sauce to a magical summer. It’s what we think summer should look, act, and feel like. It’s easy to get confused on how to create whimsy because we want it to be part of our life most of our days. Whimsy creates family and friendship bonds from experiences. Whimsy is loving life for what it is, what it can be, and involving others. Whimsy cements long-standing memories. Used correctly, you can find a lot of joy in your experiences this summer. Used incorrectly, you can set yourself up for frustrations and failure. 

A quick word about what whimsy is and what it is not. The key to whimsy is authenticity. Let’s not force something that is unrealistic for your lifestyle, budget, or time restraints. These efforts to create magical moments should be a break from “regular life” and enjoyable for all involved. Take care to not force unreal situations on your very real family and friends. Also, whimsy is intermittent. We cannot expect to be in a state of whimsy all of the time; that’s not responsible nor is it healthy. Whimsy is SO magical because it’s uncommon, unconventional, and unique. Don’t turn whimsy into everyday living because it will no longer be magical. 

Whimsy isn't extravagant. It isn't expensive. It isn't always preplanned or burdensome. Whimsy is attempting to make magic from nothing. Summer is a perfect time to seek whimsical encounters. It's an opportunity to take an occasional break from structure and say no to the conventional. Find opportunities to create authentic, occasional whimsy this summer and I promise that you'll have experiences you'll carry with you forever.

Practical Tips:

Here are some simple examples of ways you can cultivate whimsy this summer…

Pull the family out of bed and catch fireflies or go stargazing.

Have breakfast for dinner.

Pick a book you loved to read as a child and read aloud to the family throughout the summer (car rides, bedtime, or just a slow summer morning).

Set up a tent in your living room (or backyard) and have a camp out.

Have a "pay it forward" meal. Go to a restaurant for dinner and pay for the meal for the people seated near you.

Are you excited to enjoy the rest of summer for all that it can be for you and your family? This mindset shift will fulfill your summer desires this year and for years to come! 


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DONNA HARRIS - PODCASTER

Donna Harris is a podcaster, wife and mother to three boys. Her Podcast, Constantly Under Construction, highlights guests and her own personal stories that will motivate and inspire you and deepen your desire to know your Creator.

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The key to success in any area of life is your MINDSET.

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Jaime McLaughlin