While there are many opportunities throughout the year to mark fresh starts and new beginnings, the changing of the seasons is always a good time to hit the refresh button. The start of summer is certainly no exception; whether you school year-round or take the summer off, these long days of the year provide a good chance to re-set attitudes and expectations.

Theoretically, my family schools year-round. In practice, formal schooling often takes a back seat to summer fun, although the emphasis on learning and growing is always present. In exchange for a more relaxed pace on the schooling-with-books front, we end up taking on additional challenges as the opportunities arise.

Summer plans for us usually involve a grand idea for the summer—learning to type, learning a foreign language, or mastering cursive—as well as a host of fun side kicks—day trips, field trips, Vacation Bible School—and the usual summer treats: popsicles, sprinkler runs, and the like.

Somehow I always think we’ll have more time to get to things in the summer than we actually have. Perhaps this is because the days seem longer, or perhaps it’s because—on a related note—the brighter days and more constant sunshine infuse a sense of optimism and energy into our routine.

(I realize that, in point of fact, the days begin to shorten as soon as summer officially begins, but the whole season is full enough of long days that the illusion holds.)

So I generally launch into our summer with pretty high hopes. If I were to draw up a wish list for what I wanted my summer to look like, it would probably include some of the following personal goals.

Dream List:

  1. Learn Spanish.
  2. Develop a convenient exercise schedule and stick to it. (This is one is challenging, because I really do enjoy exercising, so in theory it should be easy to follow through; in practice, it’s just hard to find the time and the energy to get started.)
  3. Spend more time in the garden. Keep up with weeding. Enjoy ground therapy and soil-based probiotics by sticking my bare feet on the earth.
  4. Experiment with iced teas, herbal teas, dandelion teas, and home-grown mint concoctions. Try new recipes in general; branch out.
  5. Read lots of books. Read more books to the kids.

Reality (Sigh):

  1. Work on Spanish. Master a few more words. Keep practicing.
  2. Potty-train the toddler (for every child, I put this off until warmer weather strikes).
  3. Mow the lawn on a regular basis (at least every other week).
  4. De-clutter my kitchen. Engage the kids more in cooking.
  5. Return books to library on time. Try to spend more time reading books than reading online.

It’s fine to dream big and set some ambitious goals, as long as I keep my eye on the more realistic side of things. After all, I must remember that it’s rather counter-productive to stress out and cause my family distress if they’re not cooperating as energetically as I want them to in my plan to make them have fun!

Having a blueprint for the summer can help give some structure to the languid days, but in the end, it’s a worthy enough goal to cherish the times we have together and make more fun memories this summer.


Photo Credit:  Cover photo, iStock. Following images courtesy of author. Minor edits by Anna Soltis.