The Joys of Summer

By Caitlin Bootsma

In the winter, depending on where you live, we can yearn for the summer weather and all the possibilities it brings. As the Song of Solomon says (in Song of Songs 2:11-12):

"For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the turtledove is heard in our land."

Yet, when summer arrives, we often can find ourselves as busy as ever, lacking the motivation to make the most of the season. The children we care for follow our example, for good or for ill.

So, what are some ways we can really immerse ourselves in the particular joys of summer? Pick a few that speak to you or come up with ideas of your own!

  1. Eat dinner outside! Whether you eat on the porch, the backyard or a park, cleanup will be simple and the atmosphere a new opportunity to focus on each other and nature.
  2. Establish a "tech-free" day. This is a fast pass to saying "no" to distractions and "yes" to summer delights. Finding good hiking sticks, taking walks and bike rides, and letting kids' imaginations run wild awaits!
  3. Become a tourist in your own town. What haven't you explored before? Scheduling the time to check out public gardens, museums, new parks, splash pads, rivers, monuments, or historical markers are all ways to expand your world without traveling far.
  4. Practice Hospitality. Winter can be a lonely time for many with cold weather and sickness preventing get togethers. Invite people over this summer. It doesn't have to be fancy—it can even be in your driveway or porch. Consider grilling hot dogs or just having a family over with drinks for the adults and popsicles for the kids. Potlucks are great, too!
  5. Develop some summer traditions! What will become some fun memories to revisit each year? Perhaps a summer movie night? Renting paddle boats or canoes? The annual "watermelon seed spitting" competition?
  6. Take advantage of the mornings and evenings: If summer is sweltering where you are, don't forget about the cooler early mornings or evenings to be outside (with bug spray).
  7. Visit outdoor shrines or Marian gardens: Check out what local Catholic churches have to offer outside. Visit a Mary garden (a garden with a statue of Mary—most Catholic Churches have them!) with a child in your care and get ice cream afterward. Discover an outdoor Stations of the Cross, followed by a park nearby.
  8. Take time truly off: If you are able to take vacation, consider making the most of it by leaving your work computer/phone behind and entering into vacation-mode as fully as possible!
  9. Discover or rediscover the joy of summer games: Gather as a family or with friends and try out games like volleyball, Bocce, Capture the Flag or softball.
  10. Summer readings: Stock up at the library and enjoy summer reading on a porch swing, at the beach, or near an open window.
  11. Summer menus: What a joy it is to eat summer foods! Maybe that means avoiding the hot oven and eating outside or taking advantage of all the fresh summer fruit!

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