6 steps to a smooth summer

Sandy Toes
Image by Clearly Ambiguous via Flickr

Kids exit school in droves for the summer break.  As parents, we figure out how to deal with the changes often at the last-minute.  The rest of us think of summer as break season even if our work environment disagrees.  The calendar may not call it summer yet, but we feel it.  It’s either here already or coming on like a locomotive down the track.

How can the chaos of summer smooth out and glide by?

Here are six simple steps to a smooth summer:

1.  Laugh liberally

Our schedules wiggle around.  Our sanity gets tested.  We can find ourselves frustrated and depressed or embrace the irony of each moment.  When the dog eats your child’s favorite toy which happened to be on the floor after you’ve requested its removal multiple times, you could say, “I told you so. ” But why not laugh.  Why not appreciate the beauty of dog slobber and the overlap of kids and canines and just laugh.

2.  Greet the heat

How easily we complain when the temp grows past 90 degrees and the mosquitoes increase in number.  But that’s summer.   We’ve wanted warmth when the goose bumps covered us from head to toe and now that it has arrived.  Greet it, and welcome it.  Since we know what to expect, lets load up on ice and ice packs and make or buy popsicles and ice cream.  Fill whatever will hold with water and immerse ourselves in it.  This season has value and joy if you look at it with open eyes.  Just say it, “Howdy heat, welcome aboard.  I’m ready for you.”

3.  Seek out silence

Many voices crowd our minds: the kids, the spouse, friends, the T.V., the radio, the internet, hulu,  youtube and much more.  The more we hear, the more we become incapable of further absorption.  Whether you call it meditation, jogging, prayer, or beach babe-hood, silence is your friend.  You may not realize it because it’s been a while since you’ve hung out, but silence demands nothing.  Silence gives pause and peace and perspective.  We all need those elements desperately, and they are worth seeking.

4.  Build the boundaries

The temptation of overcompensation creeps in each summer.  We think of all we want to do: the dream trips or adapted stay-cations,  the ten books of summer, the kid classes in everything from macrame to mountain climbing.  One thing gets added to another and another until we find ourselves swamped by activities.  We need discipline.  Instead of finding joy in the experience, we feel stress.  Let’s think ahead.  It’s not too late to cancel, if we’ve already over bought from the parks and recreation program.  Down time holds value too.  In the same way too many cooks spoil the stew, too many activities stress out our summer.

5. Focus on Friendships

As Bill Clinton posted in his office the day he became president, “It’s the people stupid.” Our summer can become so clotted with stuff we forget the people.  But beware, just because people are part of the stuff doesn’t mean the friendships are truly being fostered.   Sometimes, too much is just too much.  Real friendship take time and personal moments.  Our friends aren’t simply those outside our family but also within the walls of our home.  After all, moves happen and changes occur, but family stays family.  Who better to build into a friend?

6.  Keep church consistent

The temptation rises to take a break across the board when we pause from one area in life.  If there is one place where a break holds little value, it’s church.  The reason to attend centers on strengthening a relationship with God and growing closer to His family.  That family extends across the globe and reaches into every people group.  The one relationship which opens doors and gives wisdom to all others is the connection between us and Christ.  He never takes a break from us, so let’s keep hanging out with Him and His family.  A solo walk of faith gives little strength when the tough times of life hit, if Jesus kept connected with believers, so should we.

What ideas have you learned to keep your summer smooth?  Share them here so we can all grow together.

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