I started out this summer like I typically do. Stoked! Stoked to spend time with my kids and revel in the joys of a Michigan summer. There isn’t anything quite like a Michigan summer. I love that our state is surrounded by shark and salt free bodies of water and peppered with gorgeous, alligator free inland lakes. It’s really something special.
In my usual fashion, I started making a summer bucket list. It included adventures like, visit Mackinac Island, travel to the UP, find a waterfall, visit the Grand Rapids Children’s museum, take a trip to Michigan Adventure, visit the John Ball and Detroit Zoos, and visit different beaches on Lake Michigan. I even jotted a trip Niagra falls down on this summer’s list…shhh, don’t tell Paul. I figured since I had less to do around my house, I had time to explore our great state and give my kids many summer adventures to remember.
Keep in mind, we also have the privilege of owning a cottage on one of Michigan’s many inland lakes. This “summer bucket list” would be accomplished in between our days of fishing, swimming, boating, tubing, kayaking and the general vacation life that IS lake living.
A few weeks into summer it hit me. I’m writing about minimalism, intentional living, contentment and learning to be more present in my day. I want to savor my days and enjoy this crazy little world we’ve built.
But I hadn’t considered what a summer bucket list would say to my kids. They are becoming more content with fewer belongings, but what about with less activity? Can they find contentment with boredom?
While savoring MY days, I started forgetting about THEIRS. I won’t always be around to make sure life is full of adventure and entertainment. They need to know that it isn’t the responsibility of any person to make you happy. Contentment needs to bleed into all areas of our lives, not just our tangible belongings.
So I declared this the summer of boredom! This isn’t a new concept, but for me it’s a radical change. I’ve decided to become unbusy, and that does not come naturally to me at all! This is the schedule detox we’ve needed. I’m resetting our expectations and aligning our steps with contentment, one summer day at a time.
Here are some ways we’ve intentionally exchanged our bucket list for contentment and worked to keep the calendar clear in search of simple summer joy.
Fewer summer plans
I’ve exchanged my summer bucket list for lazy summer days. We typically just see where the day takes us. Our summer plans are spontaneous and infrequent.
For the most part, my kids have stopped asking me, “What are we doing today?” When I do plan an outing I’m met with excitement and gratitude. Like I’m stinking Wonder Woman.
I’ve recently starting reading Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch. She says,
Our children need to be bored. They need to kick their feet and wait outside of bathroom doors, unanswered. They need to be sent outside or to their rooms to play. They need to turn over the bag of tricks to find it empty. Because that’s when they will discover they don’t need stuff to fill their time. The don’t need a plan for entertainment. They can create their own. And when they do, that’s when summer turns magical.
Fewer trips to the grocery store
I spent the first month of summer making 2-3 trips to the grocery store a week. My kids have stepped up their food consumption game to a whole new level.
I reached out to some mom friends who have, “been there, done that,” and the message was clear. I just needed to stop catering to their every food whim.
Everyone has their favorite fruits and vegetables and they expected them to always be readily available. I was so grateful they were eating such healthy foods, that I had become a slave to their cravings. If something ran out, it was my responsibility to replenish.
I’ve been working on taking only 1 trip to the grocery store a week. So far it’s happened one time, but it’s getting better. We are wasting less food and when grocery day rolls around they are more excited than annoyed to run this errand. Win, win!
Fewer play dates
Play dates just don’t energize me. Am I allowed to say that? I love spending time with our friends. However, my kids end up over stimulated and doped up on cupcakes. They’ve either demonstrated a bad attitude or been the victim of one during the day. After all that, I still have to corral them into the car. I come home wanting nothing more than a solid 4 hour nap afterwards but that’s just not possible.
I’ve cut way back on play dates for now. I’m giving my kids the opportunity to play together and grow closer by not offering them friends as often. We have our good days, our great days and our lock-myself-in-the-closet days. But I have plenty of time to sit in that closet because I don’t have anywhere to be!
What I didn’t see coming is that we’ve actually made MORE friends by being home. Who would have thought? I’ve got some pretty great neighbors just a couple of doors away that I’ve always been too busy to get to know.
Disclaimer: Dear friends, please don’t stop inviting me! I’ll be back, I promise!
Eliminating simple tasks from my to-do list
What are you doing out of habit that you can eliminate, even if just for a season?
I’ve halted my purge for the summer and simply refocused on conscious consumerism. I’ll get back at it when my kids are in school. I just don’t feel like spending our fleeting summer that way.
I usually make my own bread and it is just delicious! (Link HERE ). My family loves homemade bread. However, I just can’t keep up with it right now. So, I’ve given myself permission to cross this off my to-do list until we are back into a fall routine.
I’ve stopped making my own peanut butter because…well, why in the world did I ever even start?
At the risk of sounding redundant, minimalism has truly led to fewer chores around my house and I love it.
I still have some tricks up my sleeve for the summer. We are still going to visit Lake Michigan. I’m sure we will even make it to the zoo again. The most significant difference is that my kids don’t expect it. I was the one putting the pressure on myself to make their summers magical. They’ve adjusted just fine, as children usually do.
I’m no longer their camp director responsible for a summer to remember. My response to, “I’m bored” is, “great, your brain needs to be bored.” When we go on adventures it’s spontaneous, it’s special, and best of all, I get to be the Hero.