“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
May you find shade today.
May you find time to relax and picnic somewhere special, even in your living room.
May you find ways to connect and slow down.
May you see the beauty of today — before it’s gone.
This is my wish — to remember the magic of a summer day.
My daughters and I will be home together this summer for the first time since they were babies, giving us a chance to be together and fully explore what summer feels like, looks like, tastes like, smells like and sounds like.
The last several summers have been nothing but rush, rush, rush. Between my work and their summer camps, we didn’t have much time to stop and smell any roses.
Summer holds so much promise for children – roughly 60 days of running free and wild, with so few rules and so little schedule.
It means lemonade and fireflies — and staying up late to gaze at the stars.
And yet summer can also be full of chaos – lack of schedule, children expressing things are b-o-r-i-n-g and hot days followed by hotter nights.
I also know that summer is the time when kids will ask to go here and there and everywhere – but being at home or exploring nature is really where they are happiest.
Why must we force so many things into a summer? Why must we cram it full of things other than walking barefoot in the cool grass searching for wildflowers or interesting insects or catching fireflies as the day turns to dusk?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking back to my summers as a child (days spent building forts in the woods or playing in the creek or camping for long stretches with my grandparents) and how I want to help create that kind of summer for my own daughters.
And, the word that keeps flinging itself at me is … slow – the kind of slow summer where magic is found in the spot on a leaf or in the shimmer of a rock. I am busy preparing a slow summer rhythm that offers all of us a meaningful summer. And I hope to encourage other families to do the same.
To encourage a slow, magical summer rhythm we need to set a few intentions before it even begins. These intentions will allow our eyes to stay awake to the magic that can unfold in a summer day:
Keep it Simple. Each activity we do outside of the house will be simple. Aside from a week-long drama camp, my girls will be happy to visit farmer’s markets, flower markets and exploring local nature centers.
Stick to the Meaningful. The best parts of summer are spent around a campfire, under the stars, or chasing each other in the yard. More of this. Yes, more of this.
Let them Roam. I love letting my girls loose to run and play. They are getting older and love the freedom. This is summer. I want to be able to do my own thing. I want them to be able to do their own things. And, naturally, we’ll find connections at the intersections of our days.
Ditch the Schedule. This is the hardest one of all but I refused to plan a week of all the best activities and day trips. We’ll go places but it won’t be scheduled by the hour. If it happens, it happens.
Instill a Sense of Calm. Perhaps this is more for me but a slow summer means relaxing. The bulk of our days should feel calm, relaxed and happy. If I have to fight with my children to do something, perhaps we shouldn’t do it. And, I’d rather choose the peaceful path – the path of least resistance – because I know it’s healthier for my family’s overall wellness.
Accept Imperfection. To have slow summer means not having any expectations about anything other than just enjoying each day. If we wake up and decide a day in our jammies is best, that’s a perfectly imperfect day. May we have many of them.
Not all of summer will be perfect just like very few days are perfect from start to finish. But, I’m okay with that.
My wish this summer isn’t to finally achieve perfection.
My wish is to stay awake to what a summer afternoon feels like.
It’s to slow down long enough to show my daughters – and myself – that magic that can still be found in a summer day.
Shawn Ledington Fink just launched her second e-book, “Lemonade & Fireflies: Inspiration for a Magical Summer.” You can register now for her next e-course The Playful Family Adventure. She is the author of “The Playful Family” and the Mama behind the blog Awesomely Awake, a movement that encourages families to find their happy place. You can also follow Shawn on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.