I started out this summer as I typically do. Full of anticipation. I was so ready to spend time with my kids and revel in the joys of a Michigan summer.
There isn’t anything quite like a Michigan summer. 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 Upper Peninsula, 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 and give my kids many summer adventures to remember.
Keep in mind, we spend most of our summer at the cottage. This “summer bucket list” would be accomplished in between our days of fishing, swimming, boating, tubing, kayaking and the everyday vacation life that is lake living.
It Hit Me
Now, we had been doing a pretty great job of implementing minimalism with our material possessions. We were working to live with more intention, walk in greater contentment and become more present in our days. Our goal was to create the capacity to savor and enjoy this crazy little world we’ve built.
But what I hadn’t considered was what a “summer bucket list” would say to my kids. They are becoming more and more content with fewer belongings, but what about less activity? Can they find contentment with boredom?
While savoring my days, I started forgetting about theirs. What does it teach them about contentment and being present when I become their summer camp activities director?
An Unbusy Summer
So I declared this the summer of boredom!
This isn’t a new concept, but for me it’s a radical change. Becoming unbusy does not come naturally to me at all! However, it’s the schedule detox we’ve needed for a long time. 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.
1. Fewer Summer Plans
Our summer plans are spontaneous and infrequent. We just see where the day takes us.
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 recently read, 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.
2. Fewer Trips to the Grocery Store
I typically make two to three trips to the grocery store a week. My kids have stepped up their food consumption game to a whole new level.
After chatting with some mom friends who have, been there, done that, the message was clear. I just needed to stop catering to their every food whim.
Everyone in my home has a different favorite fruit and vegetable. I was so grateful they were eating such healthy foods, that I allowed myself to become a slave to their cravings. If something ran out, it was my responsibility to replenish it…ASAP.
I’m now working to only take one 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!
Edited: I’ve since discovered a meal planning strategy that has helped make fewer trips to the grocery store more obtainable. Check out my Simplify Your Life Meal Plan: For Those of Us That are Over it!
3. 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, they still have to be corralled into the car. Once home, I want nothing more than a solid four hour nap, but that’s just not possible.
I’ve cut way back on play dates for now. I’m
forcing them giving my kids the opportunity to play together. 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!
Disclaimer: Dear friends, please don’t stop inviting me! I’ll be back, I promise!
4. Eliminating Simple Tasks From My To-Do List
I’ve halted my purge for the summer and have simply been focusing my minimalist efforts on conscious consumerism. I’ll get back at it when my kids are in school, but 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 it’s been amazing.
I have a long history of spending summer trying to outdo the last. It’s time to let this life of less transform my summer in the same way it did my wardrobe. When I make it my job to create a picture perfect summer for my children it sends the wrong message. My kids still tell me they are bored, but my new response is, “great your brain needs to be bored in order to grow.”
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 seeing signs of greater gratitude and less entitlement. Those moments make those lock-myself-in-the-closet moments, worth it.
For More Inspiration
It’s time to stop managing our families and start leading them!
2 years ago I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I had no capacity to mom on purpose!
Living with less has gifted me time, space and some much needed perspective of what truly matters most. Below is the link to my FREE Beginner’s Declutter Like a Minimalist Guidebook. It takes a deeper look at the 7 Steps to getting started highlighted in my popular post, Declutter Like a Minimalist.