Are you more than ready for a break this summer? I hope you're planning on some slow time to rest and recharge and connect with family, friends and the earth.
To help you get organized so you can make the most of the lazy, hazy days of summer, here are ten things you can do now that will simplify the coming months. Take a few hours this weekend and get ahead of the game.
1. Switch up your indoor decor for lighter, airier accessories. Pack away wool and heavy blankets and swap in light weave throws. Put candles away (or take them to the porch) and replace them with vases filled with wildflowers, lavender or blossoming branches. Take a few pillows off the couch and beds to lighten things up. Put new pillow covers on them in fun patterns for summer, and leave them on benches or outdoor porches to encourage an afternoon reading spree. Introduce natural fibre woven materials to blur indoors and out. It may not be in the budget to purchase a sisal rug or bamboo shades, but placemats and baskets are an easy and affordable way to achieve a similar effect. These small changes will signal that summer is here and give your mood a refreshing jolt!
2. Keep the house cool, sustainably. Find a fun table fan or two (check out these ones). Clean all fan blades and turn ceiling fans to spin counter-clockwise for a stronger downward draft. Invest in bamboo or roman blinds - they'll keep up to 60% of heat out of the house. However, you may want to lighten up on the heavy curtains and switch to ones made of lightweight fabric that will let the breeze flow in at night.
3. Do some outdoor prep. Quickly spruce up any painting or staining that will add life to your decking, railings and outdoor furniture. Dig out your large planters, clean them and fill them with greenery or colourful flowers (tip - green ferns provide luscious beauty without having to re-pot a ton of smaller plants). Hang some string lighting on the back porch or outdoor entertaining area. Clean out the dirt and bugs from your outdoor entry lights. Connect the hose and make sure it doesn't have any leaks, give the lawn mower a once-over, and make sure all of your garden and lawn gear is in good shape and in one handy place.
4. Extend your living space outside. Set up a relaxed space on the back deck, patio or yard. Clean the outdoor furniture and cushions and put some extra stuffing into pillows to make them comfy and inviting. Have magazines and books on hand in baskets or crates, and consider adding a soft rug that you can bury your toes in. Add adequate lighting and candlelight to encourage evening hang outs, and make sure to have a spot to keep board games and cards to encourage tech-free family fun.
5. Get ready for BBQ feasts. Check to make sure the propane tank is hooked up properly and filled. Clean the grills with a ball of aluminum foil (get rid of your wire brush - loose bristles from can come loose and be ingested, perforating the intestines and requiring surgery). Give the rest of the BBQ a good cleaning with soap and water. Turn the heat on high for 10 minutes, let fully cool again, and then coat the grills with cooking oil. Stock a basket or tin nearby with a lighter or matches, lighting fluid if needed, an oven mitt and an apron.
6. Prepare to entertain. Pull the blender to the front of the cupboard so it's easy to grab. Make room in the freezer for popsicles, veggie burgers and extra ice cubes. Make sure the fridge is stocked with the "good" condiments. Go through your cookbooks or Pinterest and bookmark your favourite BBQ, salad and summer drink recipes. Stock up on trays and platters to carry dishes and food outside. Invest in lots of simple cloth napkins (I love these) instead of always running out of paper ones. Consider purchasing a Soda Stream to make your own sparkling water and give up buying all those bottles. I love mine!
7. Organize for outdoor fun. Put a couple of baskets or bins of summer outdoor essentials near the door for everyone to have easy access. Stock them with sunscreen, bug spray, flip flops, beach towels, picnic blanket and hats. Find one spot to put all the activity gear like baseball gloves and bat, frisbees, balls, badminton rackets and washer toss and cricket sets. Stock the medicine cabinet with aloe and tea tree oil to naturally treat burns, bites and cuts.
8. Be ready for trips and outings. Summers are for making memories and recharging in the sunshine and under the stars. Locate your coolers, picnic basket, beach balls, binoculars, tents and sleeping bags, and any other gear you'll need for you and your family. Map out hiking and biking trails and routes ahead of time. Have a backpack ready with an emergency kit, flashlight and water bottles so you can grab for an impromptu day trip. Stock up on energy bars and trail mix.
9. Organize your clothes and accessories. If you haven't already, pull out all of your summer clothes and shoes and purge any that don't fit or that you don't wear any longer. Organize them at the front of the closet and put away any off-season clothing. Bring out a few lightweight sweaters for cool summer evenings along with hats to keep the sun off of your face, and hang them on hooks in your bedroom or entryway. Put a basket on your dresser with sunglasses, UV face cream, lip balm, and hair bands to pull your hair out of your face on hot days.
10. Keep it simple. Don't overschedule your time or make activities complicated. Stick to just simple unplanned time outdoors. Visit farmers' markets, local parks, and hiking trails. Sit still on on your porch or patio and do some journalling. Instill a sense of calm every morning, resolve to go with the flow, and be present for meaningful, restful and fun times ahead!