When summer first rolls around, it feels endless and full of possibilities. By the middle of August, the fear of missing out on your goals for the season starts to poke at the corners of your mind. Maybe your plan to try white water rafting or climb up a mountain got abandoned because staying home with the air conditioning was too irresistible. Or maybe travel plans you would’ve needed to make were just too expensive.
Don’t give yourself too much of a hard time about whatever caused your plans to change or evaporate. It’s not too late to squeeze the most fun out of the end of the season. Some of these are also good things to carry into every season.
Learn a new skill or hobby
Do you know someone who emerged from the relatively recent lockdown with an award-winning novel, a foreign language in which they are now fluent, and the skills of Julia Child in the kitchen? Me neither. But you can still start to learn something new while this summer is ongoing, and have it mastered (or at least be competent in it) by the time the fall and winter are here.
Plan time spent out with friends
Nothing can make a Friday or Saturday night in September feel like a summer night more quickly than food, drinks, and laughter with friends. Start the habit now! If nights are complicated, try to set up a breakfast or brunch time to get together. Do you have coworkers you consider friends? You can also get together with them. If you don’t always want to spend money going out, you can get together at each other’s homes. Make summer last all year long by making a night (or morning) out a monthly tradition.
Be a tourist in your hometown
Check out a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t gotten to yet. Take a hike on a local trail. Visit some of the gift shops in town you never go into. You might not have time to travel to a totally new place, but viewing your town as tourists do is an easy way to squeeze in one last vacation day.
Host a picnic or barbecue
Have you been saving picnic hacks, grilling tips, and barbecue recipes all summer? Well, now it’s time to put them to good use. Put together a farewell-to-summer cookout that counts. Make it a potluck and split the labor and expense.
Swim in the nearest body of water
Your favorite pond or secret swimming hole could be frozen over sooner than you think, even though this summer’s heat waves are still ongoing. Your swimming pool may have to be closed as the season changes. So get yourself in the water or by the water. Plan it if you have to, but make sure it happens while summer is still with us. Take the opportunity to explore nearby beaches and waterways. I live on Long Island, which has lots and lots of beaches, and most area residents never even get to visit them all.
Really experience a sunrise or sunset
Or even better, make it a point to watch both – even if you do it on different days. And I don’t mean watch from your office or car window. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to appreciate the sunrise and sunset no matter where you are or what you’re doing. But for this list, I mean watch the sunrise and the sunset with it being your only focus. Breathe deeply and appreciate the amazing artistry of nature.
Go camping – close to home
A night under the stars is a great way to make summer last. The slightly cooler nighttime temperatures might even make it more comfortable to sleep outdoors now than during the hottest part of summer. Can’t get to a campground? Make s’mores in your backyard, or using your stovetop or microwave. Sleep in your yard or in the living room or family room.
Here’s a fun story for you: we were planning a camping trip with our kids and I wasn’t confident that one of them would enjoy it. We decided first to try camping at home, but because we have a large inground, there was no room to set up the tent in the yard. My husband decided to put it on the front lawn. It was supposed to drizzle, but he wasn’t worried about it. Unfortunately, the drizzle became a huge thunderstorm and all the kids raced back into the house, followed by my disappointed husband. The next day we were leaving for the weekend to go to a neighboring state, and of course, the tent and lawn were soaking wet. The tent needed to dry out before it could be dismantled and put away, so we decided to let it dry out over the weekend and it would get put away Sunday night. Which it was. Fast forward to Tuesday morning and I get a visit from a very unpleasant woman who works for the Town. She informed me that a neighbor had reported us for renting shelter to vagrants on our front lawn. Seriously.
Savor summer produce
Visit a local farmer’s market and challenge yourself to create a meal centered around the fresh fruits, vegetables, and specialty items you find there. The flavors make for a wonderful meal, but you’ll feel better for having done it. If you don’t know where to find a local farmer’s market, call your local town hall or go on their website for information. In my area, in a parking lot right behind a courthouse, a farmer’s market is set up a couple of times a week in the very early morning hours.
Keep on gardening
While it might be time to say goodbye to growing summer vegetables like tomatoes or zucchini, there are plenty of flowers and plants that grow well far into fall. If you have a green thumb, there’s no need to say goodbye to this hobby just because the summer will be ending. Look ahead to fall and find out what you can cultivate that grows well in your area.
Sleep with the curtains or shades open
First, I’m assuming that your neighbors aren’t too close, because you’re not looking to flash anymore and encourage a peeper. If the coast is reasonably clear in that respect! Make the most of the summer sun by leaving your curtains’ skore shades open when you go to sleep. The early morning sun shining into your room supports your body’s natural circadian rhythms and makes waking up to an alarm again a little less jarring.
Create a summer playlist
Make a playlist of songs that make you feel those summertime vibes. They don’t have to be from the current summer, they can be from any and all summers in your life or even songs before you were born that when you hear them, make you feel and think of summer. Enjoy the endorphin boost upbeat music provides – and play it anytime year-round when you want to get that feeling.
Have ice cream for dinner
Sometimes, everybody needs to do something that feels like breaking the rules. With this one, if you happen to have kids they’ll think you’re the best parent ever when you announce it’s time for ice cream when you’d usually be sitting down to dinner. Starting with dessert is an easy way to make summer last a little bit longer, even if you end up eating a healthy dinner after dessert is done.
My own mother used to do this, using frozen yogurt. I vividly remember that I was sitting in the back seat of the family car when she announced that we were picking up dinner, and what flavor did I want, vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry? You can do this with ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, or a non-dairy or vegan option. Just don’t forget the toppings!
See a summer blockbuster
Wide vistas, car chases, and CGI effects are best experienced on the biggest screen you can find. Once you have your list of movies you want to see, find a theater or a drive-in movie venue. Many towns host movie nights at village greens and such; look online for a listing of summer events.
Read a book
Even if you read only a few pages a day, reading is a relaxing way to make summer last. Don’t think you’ll have the energy for an entire novel? Read an anthology or collection of short stories. You can find them in any genre of reading material, and they frequently are produced to benefit various good causes.
Enjoy mindful minutes every day
Summer is all about unwinding. When summer ends, it’s easy to begin to wind up all over again. Promise yourself to spend 5-10 minutes each day just being present and loose in those moments. Breathe deeply. Remember that feeling you get when you finally let summer in and allow yourself to relax? Make summer last all year by spending a few minutes every day in that summer state of mind.
What do you do to hold onto the waning days of summer? Are you eagerly looking forward to the autumn what do you wish summer would last for another month or two? What’s something you did this summer for yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this so please feel free to email me at email@example.com