design your summer (with a printable!)

Have you heard of Gretchen Rubin? I’m a super fan of hers — I love the way she encourages her readers and listeners to seek moments of joy in daily life. So many of her ideas and suggestions resonate deeply with me. One of my absolute favorites is her suggestion to design your summer.

Many of us look forward to summer — I certainly do! — but at the end of the season I often feel like I haven’t really enjoyed it as much as I’d planned. Daily life and my to-do list get in the way of all the fun things, and because summer is generally less structured than the rest of the year, the fun things can get pushed off indefinitely. Have you ever felt that way?

She suggests sitting down with a list of categories and thinking about how we want our summer to unfold. What fun local adventures can we suggest on a random Saturday when the kids are tired of the pool? What rainy day activities would be fun? Are there any projects we want to accomplish? Foods we want to try? And, one of my favorites, who do we want to spend time with this summer? Do we want to reconnect with an old friend or build a stronger friendship with a new friend?

I prefer to make these lists with a focus on fun rather than projects, as you can see below. I love home projects — this blog is all about them! — but my personality tends to focus on projects rather than fun. And I want to focus on fun this summer!

Also, I don’t see this as a list of must-do activities. In the week since I wrote this list, I’ve already substituted stand-up paddle boarding in DC for kayaking in Delaware, simply because I realized I’d have more fun paddle boarding closer to home and I could do it more often. So I joined a local boathouse and can access a kayak or paddle board throughout the summer to explore the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. And I’m ecstatic about it!

I also want to visit Calleva Farm in Maryland for pizza night, go tubing on the Shenandoah River near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, and see some baseball games. A mom friend gave me the idea to visit several independent bookstores in our area with the kids this summer and let them pick out a book or two in each place. Maybe that will encourage them to read more . . . and I’ll get to buy some books for myself, too.

One of my favorite spots for ice cream is the old-fashioned Carvel shop near us. You order at a walk-up window and sit at picnic tables — the place feels like a throwback to the 1950s. We’ve already been there once this summer and plan to go many more times, so I put it on my list.

If you’re interested in trying this, here’s a printable I made on Canva. Feel free to print it and make your own list.

What would make you jump for joy this summer? Is there a local trail or restaurant that you want to try? Let’s set some fun goals for this summer and have a great time!

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