Ahh, sweet summertime.
We are finally entering what might just be my favorite season of all — summer time!
I love the longer days, the flip-flops, and the many visits to the pool and ice cream stands that my family gets to make each summer season.
With signs that the pandemic is slowing down and we are able to do more of what we love in the summer, I am excited for a return to something resembling normalcy for my own family.
Whether you have school-age kids or not, the summer season should be a time to slow down and enjoy the sunshine and warmth around us.
Whether it is simplifying your daily meal routines — because, let’s face it, none of us wants to eat as much when it is so hot outside — to finding more time for self-care, summer should be a season of living simply.
Having embraced my love of this season and all that it brings (including humidity, mosquitoes and reliance on my air conditioner), I have found a few simple living hacks that are worth trying.
Happy summer, friends!
• Hot (Cleaning) Fun in the Summertime: Summer is a great time to simplify your overall home environment with a good summer cleaning.
The longer daylight hours are ideal for getting more things done in the after-work hours and also an ideal time to purge any excess belongings that you find you no longer have a use for.
Summer yard sales are a great way to make some extra money for that upcoming vacation and it will give you an excuse to clean your house at the same time.
A great strategy for this is to take one of those summer vacation days — and the slower pace of the season — as an excuse to devote a day or two to complete deep cleaning and purging of your house.
As I have shared with you in past “Sweet Simplicity” columns, I am a big believer that extra stuff can be the greatest culprit of a cluttered home.
Just as you book a trip for summer vacation, be sure to book several days to make your home more of an oasis.
• Simple Summer Meal Planning: For me, there is nothing more daunting than the notion of meal prepping for multiple days.
While I tip my cap to those who embrace it, it has never been my jam.
That being said, I shift that mindset a bit for summer months with some serious summer side dishes.
For example, on Sunday night, I might make a double batch of cold salads, all of which will last me the entire week.
We usually add a night of grilled food for one meal, crockpot barbecue or meatballs for another and save any leftover grilled meat to put over a leafy green salad later in the week.
We may even grill a couple night’s worth of hamburgers, hot dogs and bratwurst links one night.
Boom! You have fed your crew for the entire week with about an hour of meal prep.
Use that extra time for some bonus family time, some time by the pool or on the boat — or simply stting outside with a glass of iced tea!
Not heating up the kitchen is always a good idea, too! To avoid menu fatigue, switch up those sides every week (visit Natasha’s Kitchen or the Tasty website for inspiration for new but simple summer salads and sides that can be prepped in advance and eaten all week).
• Summer Traditions Don’t Have to Stress You Out: Before I had my summers off, I stressed hard about making summer so special for my kids.
It worried me that they had the perfect summer camps and the most memorable summer vacations — and when I didn’t send them to camp or take a summer vacation, I stressed about that, too!
Then it hit me: My kids frankly did not care about any of that stuff.
Whether we had a water gun fight in the yard one night after work or did an ice cream run before dinner — they just wanted to spend time doing any of those things with me!
While the fancy camps and vacations can be fantastic, they are not the only way to make summer memories with your family.
When I asked my boys for one of their summer memories the other day, their response was “cranking up music really loud in the car on the way to get Slushies.” Seriously.
One of my greatest pieces of nostalgia is eating green ice pops with my kids.
The flavor is exactly the same from my childhood and there is honestly nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day.
Find those small moments at the end of your workday — a few minutes sitting on the porch, a walk on the beach at twilight, a trip to the local ice cream store after dinner or even a night at the carnival to eat junk food.
If you want to surprise your grandkids or nephews/nieces with an impromptu trip to Dairy Queen, do it!
The sweet spontaneity of summer is what makes it so magical!
They don’t have to be fancy, they don’t have to be costly — they just need to be moments with the people you love the most.
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)