Be Mindful When Making Summer Plans


Kara here.  My family and I are taking a few vacation days, so I’m re-posting this wonderful article from  former Simple Kids editor Megan Tietz, of Sorta Crunchy. This post originally ran in July 2009.  I know the topic of mindful summer planning is timely for me and I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

~ In summer, the song sings itself. ~William Carlos Williams

For some, the month of July marks the beginning of the celebration of summer, while for others it indicates that the summer holiday is nearly halfway over.  July offers ample opportunity to slow down and evaluate how your family is wiling away the days of summer. Here are some thoughts to bear in mind:

1.  Assess Motivation

Thoughtfully consider why each activity, camp, or trip is on your list of plans. Are you planning on taking the big vacation because it’s summer and that is what you “should” do?  Or is the trip away a chance to purposefully engage and connect with each other as a family in a new and exciting (or old and beloved) locale?

Are you sending your children to swim lessons or away to camp because that is just what everyone in the neighborhood does, or is it because this activity or time away will genuinely enrich their growth and learning?

As you look over your plans, follow the lead Leo Babuta sets forth in The Power of Less and ask yourself, “what is essential?” You may find the summer plans are suddenly much less complicated.

realjoyPhoto by Todd Baker

2. Embrace Limitation

The fact of the matter is that even the most thoughtfully made plans will get derailed.  Life brings the reality of economic upset, rain delays, and last-minute cancellations.  How will you respond as a family when you encounter circumstances that threaten to limit your summertime plans?

Find the strength to surrender what is not so that you might fully accept what is.

If the family budget is leaner than in years past, take up the challenge to see how much fun you can have without spending money.

Amy from did exactly that when she planned a Money-Free Weekend. Amy was inspired by this list from The Simple Dollar: 100 Things To Do During a Money Free Weekend. Plan a staycation, visit a local national park, sleuth out free admission days at your local zoo or museum.

So many of the simplest, most uncomplicated ways to spend summer days are very cheap or free, and there is no reason to allow a slimmed-down budget to overshadow family fun.

Perhaps it is not the economy but rather unfavorable weather that threatens to limit the way your family enjoys this summer.  Again, the key is to shift your focus from what you can’t do to what you can.

Outdoor plans rained out?  Rainy days deliver the gifts of kitchen experimentation, literary explorations, and heart-to-heart conversations.  Scorching afternoon temperatures keeping you indoors?  Accept the invitation to wake up with the sun and revel with nature in the beauty of the early morning hours, or stay up late to dance with the lightening bugs in the cooler hours of dusk.

As you strive to overcome the challenges and disruptions that will come your way this summer, you are teaching and modeling for your children the importance of flexibility, critical thinking, and problem solving – lessons they will remember long past the celebratory days of summer.

summerevening Photo by Per Ola Wiberg

3. Emphasize Retrospection

Who among us hasn’t been startled by the swiftness with which these summer days pass by? Schedule in to your days and evenings some purposeful time to capture the highlights of this season.

Plan to keep your camera close-by. Sure, we all bring out the cameras to capture a stroll past the lions at the zoo or the smiling family standing in front of a national monument.  Yet the sweetest, or most outrageous, or most vivacious moments often happen in the everyday days of summer.  A little one’s first sno-cone or the big kids’ mud fight are occasions that deserve documentation.

Schedule time to journal as a family. We all know how quickly the details of the day are lost.  Plan to meet together for a few minutes every evening or even just once a week to record the best (and yes, even the worst!) moments.  What a treasure you will have at the end of the season – a retelling of each moment of summer from the unique and powerful perspectives of each member of the family.  If your little one is verbal but cannot yet write, make sure an older child or a parent records his thoughts and feelings, too.

When the recording of days is thoughtfully and intentionally given priority, memories of the fullness of the summer season are suddenly much more tangible and accessible for your family to treasure for years to come.

Perhaps no other season is as looked forward to or so mournfully missed at its conclusion than summer.  It will slip through your fingers if you don’t put forth the effort to grasp it!  How is your family putting forth the effort to make mindful plans this summer?

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace


  1. We have plans to go to Disney World this summer and to me going there is like a working vacation. This time when we go we are taking it easy. I’m not racing to get through the parks and so what if we don’t see everything. I want to have lazy afternoons by the pool and take a nap if we want to take a nap.

    I also like your idea of doing a family journal. I keep a personal journal and my blog, but to do something together as a family getting everyone’s input on what they liked is a great idea.

    Rana’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday!

    • @Rana, first of all, YES to naps at Disney World! It makes for such pleasant afternoons and evenings, especially for the nights you are going to parades/light shows.

      Secondly, I’m trying to do better with journaling the girls’ reflections on our days. It’s fun now that the toddler is more verbal!

      Megan’s last blog post..Be Mindful When Making Summer Plans

  2. I enjoyed your post. It’s funny, I just wrote a post on our blog about the rhythm of summer and how we are enjoying it. I love your ideas to journal as a family and keeping your camera close-by. Love this blog!

    Erin’s last blog post..The Rhythm of Summer

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I really needed it today. I need to print it out and read it again and then stop and think about everything that it says.

    Amy’s last blog post..Visions Become Realities

  4. We have nothing huge planned but we do plan on going camping this month. We are halfway to the end of the summer right now and we are just taking time to be a family! Thanks for the post, great advice (as usual!) :)

    Chele’s last blog post..Thirsty Thursday – Gentleness

  5. We travel a lot in the summer, but all of it is related to visiting friends and family. It does make time go faster, but we have a blast while doing it. I agree it’s hard to say goodbye to summer. Thanks for the post!

    Stacie’s last blog post..The Distractible Mommy

    • @Stacie, you are so welcome. These are thoughts I must ponder DAILY.

      When we lived in Texas, our only summer travel was to see family. It was kind of nice – not a lot of pressure to go and see and do, mostly just time spent hanging out with the ones we love and missed so much. Now that we live in the same state as all of our family again, we don’t know what to do with ourselves during the summer!

      Megan’s last blog post..July 10th: SK Showcase and Weekend Links

  6. Since my husband is a teacher, we look forward to summer all year! We have made a conscious effort to take advantage of the warm weather by bike riding through different neighborhoods, or bringing pizza to the park for dinner. And you can never make too many visits to Dairy Queen!!

  7. Thank you so much for the shout-out on the blog entry. This is something we are really working on and trying to just slow down and enjoy being home more. Great list of tips!

  8. Thanks for this, Megan. A year later and this post is still the reminder that I need as the summer shifts into high gear and I start feeling the pressure of the days getting crossed off of the calendar.

    Here’s to lazy days, slowing down, and savoring Summer! :-)
    .-= Kara Fleck´s last blog ..Be Mindful When Making Summer Plans =-.

  9. Kristen says:

    I needed this-Thank You! I have been bringing my oldest up for daily swim lessons at the local pool. They were cheap and her friends were doing them. She does like them, but the “teachers” (high school kids) are not helping her learn anything new and it is a major time commitment to get there. I had felt guilty for not wanting to continue them, but no more. They just do not enrich our short summer enough. Thank you!

  10. Great article!
    I have my daughter registered for a 1/2 day camp this coming week.
    I am not sure she is ready for it. (She is 3).
    But all our friends are away and we have no plans.
    I feel like she should have “something to do”.
    Maybe that “something to do” should be with me. I just need to get a little more creative.

  11. We recently went down to Florida to visit old friends, instead of getting wrapped up in the whole amusement park experience, we slowed down, enjoyed nature, our children, and simple pleasures.
    Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith´s latest post: 7 Quick Takes Friday Volume 3


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