Happy first day of summer! This is the best day of the year. Who is with me on this? It’s like Friday night of a 75-day weekend, right? OK, maybe that’s a wee bit of an exaggeration. After all, many of us do work all summer (teachers included) and there’s that whole parenting thing (oh yeah right – forgot about that one in my 60 seconds of summer bliss). But still, most of us do agree that everything is better in summer.
And while I do love Summer (beautiful weather, outdoor activities, beach!) my one complaint about the season is that it can be a little demanding. There are always more parties, events, showers, weddings in summer than at any other time. Work doesn’t necessarily slow down – and for some it gets even busier. And if you are a parent with a child (or two or more) who participates in sports, well get ready to pack your bags every weekend for that tournament or meet. With all this going on how are you to fit in your own exercise routine? And how are you to focus on your healthy eating?
Here are my top tips for squeezing in the most time for your health during the busy summer season:
1. Work out early in the morning: Today is the day to start. It’s the longest day of the year. If you have ever considered beginning a morning exercise routine, start now (not in January when it is dark and 2 degrees outside.) Morning exercisers are more likely to stick with their routine. And it is really the best way to start your day. There are some good tools out there if you are looking to get started. For me, the most important thing I do to get out the door quickly? I lay out my workout clothes on the floor the night before.
2. Grill, chop and use those leftovers: Our dinners in the Summer look something like a healthy version of a salad bar at Sweetgreen. We grill up some chicken, some shrimp, some asparagus. Then we make a couple of grains like wild rice, quinoa, black rice, jasmine rice, or brown rice pasta. We also chop veggies like lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, carrots, and herbs. We also sometimes add olives, cheese, or nuts. With these ingredients chopped and at the ready, everyone in the family can make a quick bowl of their choice on busy nights. We also have a quesadilla maker, so sometimes those ingredients end up in there in between a couple of corn or flour tortillas.
3. Use your crockpot – even in the summer: My son played baseball for many years. Any baseball mom will tell you that Summer Ball is craziness. There are games just about every night of the week. Baseball keeps Wendy’s in business – and it is probably solely responsible for the wraparound line at dinner time. I never quite knew how I was going to get from my office south of Boston to a 5:30 game, stay at the ballpark until 8, and get dinner on the table. This is why crockpots were invented – and why they still exist today. Even in the summer. I may never have arrived at a game by 5:30 pm, but I did get there. And I’m very proud to say that I have never been to Wendy’s in Mansfield except one time when one of my children needed to use the restroom.
4. Try Shipt or Rent Sons to get stuff done. Summer days are so precious and when you have a free day off, you really should be spending it doing something amazing and memorable. Not shopping at Target. I actually first tried Shipt on an incredibly wet and rainy day when I was at a 7-hour swim meet (which was also incredibly wet, soggy and unbelievably crowded). I guess I could have gone to Target after the swim meet, but it would have been ridiculously late and I remembered that all my millennial co-workers who have this all figured out are using Shipt (and not spending their weekends running around to stores). So, I tried it out. And I am now in love with Shipt. I’ve used it about 7 times (Shipt shoppers also go to Roche Bros, CVS and Petco in our neck of the woods). It is $100 for a 1-year membership. When you order, if you spend $35 (so easy!), there is no delivery fee. There is a small Shipt fee (about what you would spend in gas to go to the store and back) and I do tip my Shipt shopper. If you refer a couple of friends, you can easily pay for that annual fee in no time. This week, when I used Shipt, I was working at home. I accomplished so much while someone else was shopping for me. Shipt shoppers stay in touch with you – mine even sent me a picture of the bananas I was buying so I could approve. I am also eager to try out Rent Sons! We spent most of Memorial Day weekend working on our deck this year (with our kids). And while there is definitely a lot of value in that, I don’t want to do it every weekend!
5. Carpool with other families for sports. This is such a no-brainer. You save gas. You save the environment. You make new friends. Your kids make new friends. Don’t be shy – make carpool friends and save your sanity.
6. Put a pair of sneakers in your car – and leave them there – always. These are your “no excuses” sneakers. I was on the elliptical at Sheehan one day, talking to some of the other ladies. The conversation turned to our FitBits – and we commiserated about Low Step Days – aka, Days Spent in the Office, Behind Your Desk. Sadly, these days can be as low as 3500 steps. If you put a pair of sneakers in your car, you can then put them on your feet at certain times of the day (lunch time or during your child’s practice) and get some steps in at that time. What about that high heat and humidity? Or rain? My office is near a mall – and some of my co-workers lace up and hit the pavement inside the mall on those days. Sounds like a senior citizen thing to do, but it definitely gets you away from your desk and closer to 10,000 steps.
7. Practice self-care or try something completely new. As busy as Summer gets, it’s important to remember that these are the good days (no homework, no teacher conferences, no worrying about a snowstorm!) Use this time to practice self-care. By that I mean, take time for you when you need it. It’s OK to say “no” when you just feel over-scheduled or you just need a day or night in. It’s easy to over-do exercise in summer, so make sure you are taking time for something like Meredith’s Stretch Class on Sunday morning. Or try something completely new like Pilates Fusion on Tuesday nights. Check the Sheehan schedule for class changes. Summer is also a great time to try something completely new. Paddleboard yoga? Surf lessons? Why not.
8. Give your spouse time to practice self-care. I loved the day when one of my favorite moms had to leave Saturday morning class early (before abs!) so her husband could play golf. It’s so important to give your spouse time to practice the things they love. A couple of times a year, my husband hikes with his college buddies as part of their quest to earn their Appalachian Mountain Club 4000 Ft. Badges. Actually, in this group, they all have finished, except for my husband, who is getting close.
9. Share the ownership of the kids’ activities with your spouse. It’s debatable whether summer gets harder or easier as your kids get older. We definitely had a few years where we seemed to be in a different camp or program every single week. And that was stressful. I felt that every Sunday, I would spend hours on my phone, texting with the other mothers I would be car-pooling with that week. We would just be figuring out the groove and then the week would be over. One strategy for making this easier is to divide up the camps/programs between you and your spouse. All of the organizing doesn’t have to rest with one person. If you are looking for some reading on this topic, try Gemma Hartley’s Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward.
10. Don’t wait until September 1 to start thinking about the new school year. I used to wait. I used to try (very hard) to stay inside my summer bubble and not think about the new school year (at all!) until maybe the week before Labor Day. It really wasn’t a great idea. It made for a few very unsettled weeks as I tried to race and catch up, scrambled to ensure everyone was registered for everything, struggled to wrap my head around new routines. Instead, I now start to accept that the new school year is coming – somewhere around August 1st. I take it in “little sips of air” (something LeAnna would say). I buy a really nice new notebook – and I keep that for all things related to school and the kids for the year. By Open House Day, I’m ready to breathe it all in.