The summers of my childhood were the very picture of carefree. I read heaps of books and played imaginary games with my brother and sister. I created plays and wrote stories and sang along to the radio and danced in my wet swimsuit (we spent nearly every afternoon at the pool).
I worked in education for five years after college and continued to enjoy mostly carefree summers off, but two years ago I started a job that is year-round and had to wave goodbye to the time off. Even while working, though, I think there’s something about summer that calls me to simplicity and relaxation.
Instead of going, going, going, let’s channel those summer of our youths and cut back our commitments so we can enjoy the gentleness of this season. If you’re looking to slow down and kick back a bit, here are five areas you can simplify this summer.
When I think of a home in the summertime, I think of wide-open doors, children running in and out with dirty shoes, family and friends streaming in or skipping straight to the backyard. I think of open windows, fresh flowers on counters, toys in the front yard, and hands that are sticky with melted ice cream. Part of the charm and magic of summer is that it is a little messy.
I’m a believer in keeping my home “company clean,” as my friend Susannah of Simple Moments Stick calls it. (The idea is that at any time, your home is ready for company with just about 15 minutes of notice.) I think that’s a perfect goal for summer, and to be honest, in the summer I try to simplify my expectations of what “company clean” means. Saying yes to everyday cleaning tasks and saying no to deep-cleaning tasks allows for more balance in the summer.
Cut back on your products and time spent getting ready! Summer is the perfect season for air-dried hair, beachy waves, and quick braids. It’s also a perfect season for bare (or bare-er) faces. I don’t think I’ve ever written about a beauty product before (mostly because I’m not into makeup at all), but I just can’t help myself right now: I am totally obsessed with Aveeno CC Cream. (This is in no way paid or sponsored, nor is this an affiliate product—I just love this stuff!) In the summer I hate using moisturizer, sunscreen, foundation, and powder, and this cream does the trick of all four. It’s a huge timesaver and it keeps my skin healthy. Summer is a great time to kiss the rest of your beauty products goodbye for a while and embrace a natural face and a messy ponytail.
Produce tends to be fresher and cheaper in the summer, so take advantage of eating whole or even raw foods (you know, not including chicken). I find that quality produce needs very little in the way of seasoning, which keeps dinner simple.
My favorite summertime weeknight dinner is to cut thick slices of pepper and onion, toss them in some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and throw them on the grill with some chicken and barbecue sauce. Twenty minutes and done. I also like to make a giant salad on Sunday and eat it throughout the week for lunch. Batch cooking isn’t just for spaghetti sauce and chili! Check out these fresh spins on salad from Jenna of A Savory Feast.
I find that summer can become overwhelmingly busy if we’re not careful to set limits on our time. It’s easy for me to say yes to too many commitments when the days are longer and the sun is shining and I don’t have to trudge through the snow to get to an event. But nothing about my schedule actually changes in the summer—I still work full time and carry the same load at home with Selah—so I need to balance enthusiasm with reality.
Simplifying other parts of life can help you say yes to more in the summer, but it’s still good to filter invitations through your core values. You may even want to choose a word, theme, or mantra for your summer as a way to guide your scheduling decisions. I want this to be the summer of home and hospitality. Dan and I are working hard to create intentional spaces in our home (starting with a new dining room table!), and I want to share those spaces with the people I love, even before the rooms are complete.
Mind and Soul
Take it outside! Whether your relaxation method of choice is reading, writing, meditating, exercising, or any number of other hobbies, we can find so much joy and connection to the season just by moving these activities out the door.
I love to read the Bible and pray outside as the sun is rising over my backyard. I try to spend my Sunday afternoons reading while my legs are outstretched and the sun is overhead and my coffee is chilling on ice. I head out for twilight walks with lightning bugs and flickering stars, with Riley’s leash in one hand and Dan’s in the other. We eat dinner on the patio instead of in front of the TV, because this change of scenery invites us to linger a little longer. Find ways to get outside and enjoy the season while doing the stuff you already love to do.
Summer is a time to loosen up (not always easy for me), to enjoy little luxuries, and to simplify our everyday lives. What’s your favorite way to shake things up and simplify your life for the summer?5 easy ways to #simplify your life and lower your expectations this #summer Click To Tweet