• Hope Butcher

How We're Organizing Summer

So, it's been forever, right?! Life has been happening at a frightening pace and intensity for me personally and my time has been otherwise consumed by all the things. And, as we said before, when it comes to blogging, there are endless sites out there with plenty to say and we have no desire to add to the noise just out of obligation to blogging. Today, however, I feel like I have something to say so here we are again!

Summer is upon us (thank God!) and if you're like me, sometimes it can slip by with regrets about things you didn't do or could have done better. It is prime time for family fun, date nights and the like and no one wants to get to September and realize it all flew past without intention. So, I wanted to share with you some of the things my family and I are doing to prevent that from happening. 

1. We bought a table and chairs for our back porch.

This has been a long time coming for us. Patio furniture is ridiculously priced most of the time so you have to be creative. We found ours at Aldi, of all places. Why is this important to us? While I don't plan on spending hours out of the deck in the heat of the day, summer nights are for sitting on porches. Summer nights are for bug spray and the smell of citronella, sweet tea, the kids and the dog running crazy through the half-dark backyard and talking with the adults. We've done this in the past by pulling out the camping chairs but this year I got intentional about it. I knew we would be more likely to sit on the porch in the evenings if we had real furniture out there. So, if you're not there yet, but you've got camping chairs, just make do until the time comes and you can get the furniture you want. It's so worth  the memories to choose the porch over the couch while the nights are long and the insects are chirping.

We have this one but these are great too!

I love the style of this one and it has more of a lounge feel to it.

Devoko Furniture Cushioned Sectional

Or, if you're looking for a bit more room, check out this one-

Sophia William Furniture Rectangular

 2. We reserved OUR day.

We live near the beach and we have a pool in our neighborhood. In multiple years in the past we have accidentally spent our last day at the beach, or only spent a couple of days at the beach, with every intention of going back, but then haven't because of weather or other interruptions. I'm always so sad when the storms start brewing in the fall and then before you know it, the weather is too cool for swimming. So, in an effort to not let the weeks go by, we have vowed to ourselves to set aside the same day of the week for family activities, namely the beach and pool. We've decided that rather than waiting on the inspiration of a beach day or the kids to ask last minute, only to discover it's too late to plan it, we will set aside a specific day each week. If it's raining, then we don't go that week, but if it's not, it's beach day. Settled, firm on the calendar.

3. I made my book list.

To be honest, this is something I do year-round but for you, it may be helpful this time of year when perhaps summer is when you read the most. I always have a list going. I sit down and make a list of about 10 books that I've been wanting to read. Then, I write down how many pages each book has. I set my timeline goal of when I plan to have the books finished and I divide the number of pages by the number of days I plan to spend reading. I'm super practical about it because I know that for me Sunday is likely to not be a reading day so I don't count Sunday. Then, if it turns out to be a reading day, bonus! I know this sounds like it takes all the romance and relaxation out of reading but for me it helps me get more reading done. I read ALL the time and I constantly have books in the cue so it helps me to have a practical set number of pages that I plan to read each day. Sidenote: Thomas Jefferson read 8-10 hours every day and still had time to run a country. Let that sink in for a minute. But, he also had a plan that he recommended to students.

"All that is necessary for a student is access to a library, and directions in what order the books are to be read. This I will take the liberty of suggesting to you, observing that as other branches of science, and especially history, are necessary to form a lawyer, these must be carried on together. I will arrange the books to be read into three columns, and propose that you should read in the first column till 12 o'clock every day; those in the 2d, from 12 to 2. Those in the 3d, after candlelight…."

A Few Off The List:

The Way of Life: Experiencing the Culture if Heaven on Earth by Bill Johnson

Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth

Update: I loved this book. I have actually re-read it multiple times now as it is so applicable and challenging in so many areas of life.

The Emotionally Healthy Woman: Eight Things You Have to Quit to Change Your Life by Geri Scazzero

4. We aren't taking the summer off.

Wait, what? I know, sounds confusing. This one is for moms and dads. Now, you may be a parent whose biological rhythm detects summer and goes into vacation-only mode. That's totally fine but for those of you like me who flourish in organization, you may have discovered that your kids begin to totally become unhinged and extra-chaotic when academics are not int he picture. I've discovered this over the last few years. Of course, we are homeschoolers so for us we choose to spread out each school year over the entire 12 months. We enjoy feeling the freedom to take days and weeks off wherever it works best for us, rather than one lump couple of months in the summer. The truth is, my husband and I work every day of the week and because we work from home, we need some level of set order for our kids in the house, every day. There's also the issue of kids "losing their minds", quite literally, when taking significant time off of school. Their reading may suffer, their math skills start to trickle away and when the fall arrives, they're just bitter about having to rein in all the freedom and be structured again. I have found over the past summers that when my kids got out the routine of using their brains for learning each day, they actually got more hyper and had all this displaced energy, which inevitably led to idle hands being a devil's playground. So, our approach in the summers is to continue school work each day, albeit a lighter load. Our extra-curricular academic activities take a summer break so that leaves more free time in the schedule each day. My kids usually finish their morning routine up right after lunch anyway so there is plenty of time for free-play. Then, calmer kids, happy mom.

5. Finally, my favorite part, because it involves a planner. We plan our special activities from the beginning.

This kind of ties into the beach day set-up. There are things we enjoy doing throughout the summer that involve a little more planning than jut throwing stuff in a beach bag and cooler and heading out. We usually go to Williamsburg a few times, for example, or to DC overnight. When summer begins (and I do this in the fall too!), I already have a plan as to when these trips and days will happen. I've found if I wait until it might work out, it won't work out. So, these days are set, way ahead of time, so that everyone knows what the plan is. The second part of this planning is to involve everyone in the family. We use ical on all of our devices and have a shared family calendar. Everyone can see the events when they're posted on the calendar and must approve them to ensure that they see them. Then, they know we have plans that day and not to schedule anything else. This has become so helpful, especially for me and my husband to communicate because we still have so many fluctuating appointments with our work and having one kid in regular therapy appointments and others in sports, communication is key in order to get everyone where they need to be.

I hope this was helpful to you in some way! I'm sure that you're already doing some of these things yourself. Or, if you have something you do that helps you out, feel free to comment! I'd love to hear other ideas! 

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