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5 Ways to Slow Down & Savor the Summer

Want to slow down and savor this summer? Here are five tips:

1. Stay Home More

A few weeks ago, our second car was in the shop. I was amazed at how much quieter and calmer our life was that week because we had no choice but to stay home all day for most of the week!

Some families find it helpful to get out and go somewhere every day, but don’t feel like you have to just because that’s what other people do. I love staying home and we aim to stay home all day at least 2-3 days per week. When we are running, running, running, and going, going, going, it makes us all feel tired and cranky.

Try staying home more and see if it allows you to have calmer, more organized days. You can’t say it won’t work if you haven’t tried. 🙂

2. Allow Two Hours of Margin

A lot of our feelings of busyness come from trying to pack 32 hours’ worth of projects and to-do’s into a 24-hour day. No wonder we feel so overwhelmed and worn out!

Two things that have really helped me feel less schedule overload the past year are to plan out the time blocks of my day each night before I go to bed (watch the video where I talk more about this here) and also to allow at least two hours of margin in my day. These are buffer hours where I don’t have any projects planned.

Most days, there will be interruptions and unexpected things that come up and these two hours of margin time allow you to be able to deal with the interruptions without your whole day being thrown off course. And hey, if you have a rare day without many interruptions, you can use the two hours to catch up on other projects, to do something spontaneous, or even to catch up on sleep!

3. Take One Day Off

Setting aside Sundays as our “off” day has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. In fact, I would say it is almost the number one key to my productivity and efficiency. I look forward to Sundays as the weekly 24-hour period to rest, refresh, and recharge.

Not only is taking one day off good for your physical health, I believe it is imperative for your mental health and well-being long-term. You’ll quickly wear out of you just charge through life and never take time to refuel. Sundays are the day when my spirit breathes and my creativity tank is refilled for the week ahead.

I dare you to try taking one day off from work, media, and your normal life and see what you think. You might find you quickly realize you can’t imagine life without it!

4. Focus on the Best Return on Investment

There are many good things in life that you can invest your life in, but you can’t come close to trying to do them all. Figure out what the best things are for YOU and wrap your life, time, and energy around those things.

For me, that’s my marriage, my kids, my health, and the blog. I say “no” to a lot of other things because they are the best things for me to invest my time in at this season of life.

5. Choose Quality Over Quantity

When considering the multitude of opportunities that constantly present themselves for activities, ministries, service projects, and more, I try to first ask myself, “Will this matter in 25 years from now?” This helps me weed through a lot of things that just aren’t the best things for me to be devoting time and energy to right now.

After paring down my list based upon that question, I then try to focus on quality versus quantity. I’d rather do a few things really well, than a hundred things pretty poorly.

What things help you to slow down and savor life? I’d love to hear your suggestions and input!

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  • Julie C says:

    “Will this matter 25 years from now” reminds me of a book I’m reading We Would See Jesus; powerful reminder to keep first things first in our lives. Thank you!

  • LRC says:

    I agree with staying home more. It also saves a lot of money because you’re not forced to grab lunch or dinner “out.”
    Also, I like your idea of a day off. So, what do you DO on Sundays? Hobbies, visit family, etc?

    • Crystal says:

      Usually Sundays for us are church, a simple lunch, then reading/naps/hanging out as a family (sometimes playing a game), and then dinner with my extended family. It’s really laid back and we love it!

      • Lora says:

        We have just about the same schedule as you on Sundays, Crystal. I must say though, for me, it was difficult to make this a habit. As a HSing mom, I often used Sundays to catch-up on housework, cooking ahead, etc… I had to let go of those things. My family is more important, I know. I am still a work in progress! If I see there are things to do, I want to do them 🙂 So, after church and usually leftovers, we often leave the house 😉 We go bike riding, hiking, to a book store, etc… then home for nap. Later we go to Grandma’s and make a simple dinner.. grill out etc…

  • AM says:

    One thing I really struggle with is that when we have ‘unplanned’ time, I almost always find myself letting my 3.5 an 5 year old watch TV. While I know this isn’t all bad, I feel terrible when I realize I’ve let them watch 2.5 hours of TV and I don’t have anything else planned for the rest of the day either. I’d love to hear how other parents structure it so that media isn’t always a default when there is ‘free time’?

    • Lora says:


      I know what you are saying. I have found that when I plan something simple like a picnic (lunch on our patio etc), reading a certain book, going on a nature walk (that could just be going outside and looking for bugs/leaves etc..) or a simple craft with glue, buttons, construction paper, play-doh etc… my little one LOVES it. Often she will choose these things now without my suggestion. So, a simple plan to begin with may encourage your little ones to do different things with their free time. Because you don’t always want to have to “plan” your free time! HTH

    • Try putting some toys together in a bin for each day. Free time, they get the bin and can play with those toys. Include creative things like play doh, paint, chalk, etc too. Kids love gluing and taping and cutting (or trying to) so anything involving that, is great. Scavenger hunts, fort building, playing outside, making mud pies, etc. Once you introduce ideas they will take them and run with them but it might take some guidance to get the creative juices flowing. Our goal is to unplug but we are finding it nice to watch some shows together as a family in the evening and I figure we are all together and that’s ok. But otherwise I am working hard to avoid what you have described the best I can. It might take some extra thinking on your part initially but it will pay off in the end!

    • Stephanie says:

      I plan the kids’ time, especially with ones that young. As they get older they can handle free time better because there is less of it and they have more creative minds to come up with productive things to do. You could even have a list of activities (ones that don’t require you) and any time there is downtime that you need to fill you could just take the first couple of activities off that list and just keep working your way down.

    • Sandy Blain says:

      When our children were young, we limited TV watching to one hour a day. I made tickets that had 30 minutes written on them and they received 2 a day. They could choose the show or DVD they wanted to watch (parent approved, of course 🙂 and turn in the tickets for that time. They could also save the tickets if they wanted to watch something longer on another day. Once in a while we also did family movie times, and that didn’t count toward their time.

      • Crystal says:

        One thing that’s been really helpful to us is to not allow any movie time until 5 p.m. That way, it’s not even an option earlier in the day and there’s no whining or asking to watch a movie in the morning or afternoon. And it helps to limit screen time, too.

    • sara says:

      I don’t know what parents do, but my rule for myself is no TV before 8 pm. I usually get home from work around 6, but if I turn the tv on for “just a few minutes to decompress,” I end up sitting in front of it all night. :-\

  • Jen Stults says:

    Great tips! As a pastor’s wife, I look forward to summers, which are typically less scheduled for our family. I definitely want to protect that family time and relaxation this summer, as it is much needed. These tips will help! 🙂

  • Yvonne says:

    I think during the summer it is great to have some days with no structure. Our kids all need time to use their creativity to build forts, use sidewalk chalk, play ‘house’, play board games, eat ice cream, read books, etc. And yes, we all need to ‘unplug’, talk to people who are with us and enjoy their company.

  • Elisa says:

    The biggest thing that helps me out is to keep the busy days super busy so the light days can be super light. I have even managed to schedule in every other Thursday “off” with nothing planned but making dinner. The only way I can do that is by keeping the other days of the month super full (by sticking to a pretty strict schedule) taking care of my four kids, my husband and our house. I also try to cram all the housework in during the week so we can spend time together on the weekends, particularly Sundays at church and after at home. None of the kids are in school yet (5, 3, 2, 8 months), so I am sure all this loveliness will change once my oldest starts this fall. But for now, I am enjoying every minute. I wish I could just freeze time for a few years and keep the kids the ages they are now for a while. Sigh. They really do grow up way too fast.

  • I have a list of 50 things to do this summer (click my blog) and our goal is to get through the list. But we are not cramming. We are taking it slow and filling in the gaps with fun things here and there. I am checking the community calendars and planning around that. We are staying busy but have plenty of time at home for the kids to read, play together, watch movies, etc. So far so good. It’s been a great balance! The best idea yet is the random question jar. When the kids ask one of those random questions you don’t know the answer to, I have them write it down and put it in the jar. On days we have down time or nothing to do they choose a question and we research the answer together. They have LOVED this and their little minds are going going going to add more questions to the jar. Some are very silly (who invented underwear) and some are really though provoking (how do radio towers work). Its’ been great!

  • Paula says:

    Remember to enjoy your children or grandchildren. Take time out to read to them or play a game with them or to do a craft project, etc. It only has to be 15 min. to a 1/2 hr. but it is enough time to continue building on priceless memories for both of you!

  • Victoria says:

    I too love staying home more and I find the children really don’t mind provided there is something to do. As you know we are currently upgrading our backyard to include things that are more geared to our children’s current ages. We had realized that it was still geared for children around 5 to 8 years when my kids are all 10 and up. We are adding some BIG things but really the things don’t have to be big, a basket ball hoop off craigslist, a PVC pipe sprinkler house (look those up on pinterest) a yard sale found tent for “club” meetings, a few yard sale found scooters. All these things make for great stay at home outdoor fun. For quiet fun I love setting up a roll of paper taped to a table on the front porch and lying out a dish of crayons or felts. When the kids were younger I also brought their Lego out onto our carpeted front porch just so they could enjoy the fresh air and build at the same time. Rainy days are netflix documentaries while snuggling on the couch or sometimes a crazy walk in the rain (puddle jumping when they were younger) Point in being home can be fun with a bit of planning and a small investment in the right equipment to keep them busy and active.

    • So true! My children have hand-me-down bicycles and scooters from friends, plus a few that my parents found at garage sales for under $5.

      Right now it’s 110º, so our summer activities are indoor activities, including watercolors, clay (modeling clay as well as fimo clay), origami (super fun with huge paper from a roll), movies from the library, books from the library, learning to sew, and learning to cook (every child has been assigned a day of the week to help me with dinner, so they will learn whatever we are making).

      They had a backyard campout in the tent last week, which was super easy and non-stressful for me, because they set up the tent themselves and took it down themselves. I didn’t have to buy any food and spend any money on gas.

      There are lots of fun things to do at home!

  • Rick McGarry says:

    Spread The Joy Around
    Redistribute household responsibilities while the kids are out of school. It’s only fair. You get a little bit of a break, they learn responsibility and new skills, and the family has a little more free time to enjoy together as a family.

  • One thing I’ve discovered lately that seems to help me slow down is to eat out less. I love eating out. However, I just realized that, even if it’s Dollar Taco Night (translate: eat for cheap), it still takes a lot of time. 15 minutes to drive to the restaurant, 15 minutes back, at least 45 minutes there–and that’s if it’s a fast restaurant. Do that a few times a week and it can be a real time-drain, not to mention a money-drain.

    I still love to eat out, but the last few weeks I’ve been doing less of it and I feel a lot more peaceful and rested.

  • Tara says:

    Thanks you for this wonderful advice. I feel like you are always answering my prayers!

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