Do you remember what summers were like as a child? Man, we had some great times as kids! We lived on a quiet side street in Owosso, MI, and I can still remember cruising our driveway and the street on our Big Wheels (mine was Spider-Man themed!) and bikes, climbing and swinging from trees, epic G.I. Joe battles, trips to our local library, and of course hitting the Slip ‘N Slide in our backyard on the hottest summer days!
As kids, we so looked forward to summertime. We counted down the days left in the school year until we were FREE! And then it was 3 months of absolute freedom. But then the reality of adulthood responsibilities and year-round employment set in. Sure, we may take a family vacation to the beach, but for the most part, summertime has lost its magic. It doesn’t hold the same place in our hearts as when we were kids.
As I reflect on my childhood summers, I realize that I learned some valuable lessons that we should all consider and embrace this summer:
1. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine
There are numerous health benefits of being outside and in the sun. I know we hear all the time about the dangers of being in the sun, but the benefits far outweigh the dangers. The sun is our chief source of Vitamin D, which is vital for a number of health reasons. Be smart about protecting yourself, but don’t stay isolated indoors. If you’re like me and live in Michigan, we only get a few months of summer weather and sunshine, so let’s take advantage of it!
2. Take time to read and lose yourself in an adventure
The weekly summer trips to the library were some of my favorite times as a child. That’s where I was introduced to Tarzan, the Hardy Boys, and even some of my favorite comic book characters. But if you’re like me, in recent years I’ve found it easier to just plop down on the couch and turn on the TV. Yes, TV and movies are a great form of entertainment. There are some really great stories and the visual effects can by absolutely mind-blowing. But our minds aren’t engaged. We just “veg out” and “turn our brains off.” Losing yourself in a good fiction book allows your mind to visualize and imagine. Reading fiction has actually been shown to improve brain function. Take some time this summer to read a couple of good fiction books. If you have children, I would suggest picking out a book and spending some time as a family reading it together!
3. Get active
In the cold harsh winter months, many of us just settle in and do our best to stay inside and keep warm. When summer arrives, warmer weather and longer days allow us to get outside and enjoy our favorite outdoor activities. I think many of us (including myself) get stuck in our routines and don’t take advantage of the warmer weather when it comes around. Let’s get outside and go for a walk. Maybe riding bikes as a family sounds fun. I have many friends that join a softball league. Find an outdoor activity this summer that you can enjoy individually or as a family. Your body will thank you!
4. Have fun
Somewhere along the way, we “grew up” and decided that we were too mature to engage in silly childhood activities. How many hours as a child did we lose ourselves in imaginary worlds of adventure?! Sadly, I think we are all too quick to grow up. We take life too seriously, and a result, we live in a constant state of stress and anxiety. Let’s make it our goal to have some FUN this summer! Do something crazy with your family and break out of your routine. It doesn’t even have to cost anything. Go on a picnic. Have a late night bonfire and roast s’mores. Camp out in your backyard. Have a water balloon fight. Make homemade ice cream. Get creative. The possibilities are endless!
5. Make the most of every moment
Life is short and we too often let the worries of life distract us and hold our attention. Yes, we do have responsibilities, but maybe this summer we try to live in the moment more often. Make some memories with your family. Spend a little extra time with your kids. By implementing any (or all) of these four previous lessons, you’ll definitely be taking steps to make the most of your summer this year.
My goal is to rekindle some of my childhood memories and put these lessons into practice this summer! My wife and I have a passion for health and wellness (see our other website, www.freywellness.com), and by being active outside, reading more, and reducing stress while having fun, we can all lead healthier and happier lives!
So what is your favorite summer activity? Do you have some creative ideas on how we can make some memories with our families this summer? Which of these lessons are you most excited to put into practice? Leave a comment and let me know. I would love to hear from you!