You can feel it in the air – everyone is so excited for the summer! Which is so different than what I had experienced living in Florida. In Tampa, it was like we had summer almost year round. In fact, I never really looked forward to summer because that meant it was SO hot you couldn’t be outside. And while I know that may be different once you have school-aged kids, summer was pretty much three other months that were just really hot. Here in Columbus, though, the towns come alive. People are excited for BBQs, pools open for just a few months out of the year, and everyone stops doing their planned activities so they are available to enjoy the summer.
So this summer, we’re making the most of it. I’m calling it the summer of Shep and Beau.
It’s a special summer for so many reasons. First, I don’t have an infant and I’m not pregnant for the first time in a few years. Those things are wonderful, but it keeps you limited in what you can do. With Shep being 3 and Beau being 15 months, they are both mobile, active and love being outdoors. I’m not pumping or breastfeeding, so I can stay out and about with the boys for as long as our hearts’ content. And I’m freelancing, so my schedule is flexible and dependent on how much I choose to work and when. If I’ve learned anything at all, I know that time goes quickly and what is our norm this summer may not be the case next year. I may be back at work, or we could be welcoming a new baby. Life is full of twists and turns and I’m all about savoring this time with my boys.
That said, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous. It’s the first time with just me and the boys, no one is in school and we don’t have regular childcare. That said, I’m definitely planning on bringing on a babysitter here and there when I have a big project or just need a break. I’m all about keeping it real and maintaining balance (and my sanity).
Recently we went to Mitchells Berries in Plain City and it was the perfect kickoff to our Summer of Shep and Beau. We walked along the strawberry fields, filled our basket with bright red strawberries and then played at the little playset. Afterward we visited with some friends in Upper Arlington and played at Miller Park (one of our favorite parks!)
Here’s what I’m doing to get the most out of the Summer of Shep and Beau, and it doesn’t involve big vacations, an endless bucket list or grandiose plans, but just carving out time and space so we can enjoy these special, beautiful months together.
- Cancelling obligations. I cancelled all but one activity for each boy. Shep is out of school mid-June and we stopped gymnastics and Gymboree. The only activity we’ll continue is Goldfish Swim School because we need to keep improving those swim skills to put to use in the pool this summer!
- Carefully picking memberships. We have a Zoo membership, pool membership and a COSI membership. These are some of our favorite places, and between these, we can have a no-hassle day to explore and enjoy without also worrying about added costs.
- Packing lunches. I pack lunches everyday with plenty of ice so we can head out of the house early and eat wherever and whenever we want to. It helps so much not having to stop and grab lunch somewhere, and not to mention it saves a ton of money. When I’m short on time I pack a couple of the EatPakd packs and we’re good to go!
- Planning our days on Sundays. Planning is in my blood, and some light planning helps keep us on track. Now if we end up feeling more like going to a splash pad than a park, no biggie, but since there are so many fun things to do here in Columbus, I like to do some research and find new spots to try each week. In addition to planning dinners on my Google calendar, I also plan our days there so I know what to expect each week. I love reading What Should We Do Today Columbus for ideas on new places to explore with the boys.
- Leaving days open. So yes, above point was about making loose plans, but I’m also planning free days (oxymoron, huh?). I’ve always found a lot of joy with the boys when we kind of just set out and see where the day takes us.
- Being picky with playdates. I love playdates and I love seeing my friends, but a lot of the time I feel like I get less quality time with the boys when we do playdates. I keep these to one or two a week and then plan the rest of our time as our little crew of three. We always meet new friends when we are out and about, and helps us be able to go by our own timeline rather than rushing to meet others at a certain time.
What are your tips for getting the most out of your summer?
Plus – my summer wardrobe staples & favorites are below!