How I’m Setting Myself Up for a Super Summer

Group of friends sit on picnic blanket outdoors

I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that my days of three-month summer vacations are behind me. But, never one to glorify the past over the present, I will quickly acknowledge that I prefer the cons of adult summers (work continues, seemingly endless lazy days do not) over the cons of childhood summers (swimming lessons where I was always the last to finish a lap; chore lists including tasks like “weed the side garden”). 

But whatever child- or adult-cons may be present, there is no denying that summer contains a certain kind of magic. The longer, warmer days; the abundance of icy treats; the freedom of sundresses and sandals over down coats and snow boots; I welcome it all with open arms.

Because summer as an adult doesn’t present as drastic of a change from the everyday reality of fall, winter, and spring, it can be easy to let the months pass us by without fully relishing all that the season has to offer. Since I don’t want to miss out on summer by simply failing to notice it, I’m taking three particular steps to set myself up for a restorative, fun, and energetic summer.

I’m making a summer fun list

I love a good seasonal bucket list: I will readily admit that my recent Pinterest history reveals searches of “fun things to do in the summer.” Along with the more typical bucket list type items (play in the sprinkler, try a new ice cream shop), my plan for summer fun includes all the events on our calendar to which I’m looking forward (“Kevin and Jackie’s Wedding!” “Camping with Clare and Andrew!,” “Trip to Vancouver!”). 

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t write down pre-scheduled happenings on a bucket list, because the point of said list is to galvanize out-of-the-ordinary events, and I don’t need to inspire myself to go on a trip for which I’ve already bought plane tickets. 

But in recent years, I’ve found that somewhere in the time between eagerly scheduling an event and embarking on it, the anticipated fun begins to fade as I focus on the logistics (e.g. finding a dog sitter) or even just forget that I’ve booked it until the day or two before. Including pre-scheduled events on my summer fun list reminds me of all the excitement that awaits me in the months ahead.

I’m adding summer flair to my daily and weekly routines

Between my natural gravitation toward routines and the fact that I have small children whose needs and wants create a certain inescapable rhythm to my everyday life (my toddlers’ energy and readiness for sippy cups are high from the moment of early awakening), there are only so many ways that my summer routines can deviate from those of the rest of the year. 

That said, I want my summer “every-days” to feel unique and special, so I’m adding a few regular habits and rituals to our summer weeks. For instance, I’m setting up a standing “Park and Picnic” playdate with a few of my mom friends and their kids every Wednesday, and I intend to get creative with our picnic offerings to make these weekly excursions extra delightful. 

I’m also planning to keep a pitcher of sun tea (my absolute favorite beverage, but one that I really only drink in the summer) in my fridge and kick back for a tall glass with extra lemon the moment my 1-year-old goes down for her afternoon nap. These are simple and inexpensive things to do, but ones that I know will make the season feel decidedly different and, well, summery!  

I’m determining a few special goals to guide my summer

As I was brainstorming how I’d like to spend my summer, two themes emerged from the mind dump on my journal page: move and create. After a somewhat lethargic and work-focused past several months, I am ready to use my body and brain in fresh ways this season. 

I know, however, that it takes concrete plans for me to put overarching intentions into action, and so I’ve created a few specific goals that I will weave into the weeks of my summer: take daily morning walks with my kids, go to the gym three times each week, use afternoon quiet time to work on writing projects, watercolor or needlepoint at least two evenings each week, and do art projects with one child while the other naps. I recently discovered that the older toddler enjoys creating vision board collages as much as I do, which was a game-changer for my creative planning. Score! 

The overwhelming feeling that I have when considering the summer ahead is optimism. I’m eager for the joy and the growth that the season seems to perennially promise, and I’m hopeful that my planning will help me make the most of the light-filled months. 

Originally published June 21, 2022. 

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Teresa Coda is a writer and psychotherapist in southern Pennsylvania. Find more of her writing at teresacoda.com.