May 8, 2022

On My Mind: Embracing Summer with Kids

I spent a lot of life letting the years happen to me.

Some of my favorite strengths are my abilities to pivot and adapt –  traits picked up thanks to moving a lot as a child, and I’m especially thankful for them. After all, flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to wrangling boys! Haha!

However, I’ve learned over the years that truly thriving in motherhood requires a whole lot more intentionality than just going with the flow – especially when it comes to our schedule.

This really rings true when transitioning into new seasons like the one coming our way: SUMMER! It’s my absolute favorite time of the year, but I’m also keenly aware that my days are about to look a lot different than they have the past nine months.

One practical activity I’ve loved as I’ve become more intentional with my schedule is making space to brainstorm ways to make the upcoming season a “win”. As Proverbs 14:1 states, “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.”

I want to be a builder — but that requires WORK. It doesn’t just happen!

So, one way I do this at the start of each new season is by looking at the rhythm and flow of each individual day, each week, and each month.

And I have two goals in mind when I do this:

  • making sure my time is not too busy,
  • and making sure it’s busy enough.

If I’m too busy, I know I’ll be overwhelmed and scattered — not great for momming or business owning, friends. I love to leave space for slow mornings, free evenings, and the boredom (and creativity, innovation, and curiosity) that often follows – for both me and the boys!

However, I don’t want to slide into apathy and not make a difference with my days. After all, these are the only ones I’ve got!

Whether you find yourself eagerly expecting summer or a bit apprehensive at the thought of such a shift in routine, I’m excited to share some fun activities and tips to help cultivate wonder and joy this summer. Tiny adventures that make a big impact!

You may find yourself suddenly in charge of occupying school-aged kids all day long, or perhaps you’re facing the first summer with a baby or additional baby in your crew! But that doesn’t mean we have to just let our schedule happen to us (and accept all the accompanying emotions of overwhelm, stress, and frustration!). We can be intentional with our hours AND enjoy the summer, too!!!

Here are some fun ideas a few mom friends and I came up with when we brainstormed our favorite summer routines!

Fun Summer Ideas

Part One: Getting out of the house

One of my absolute number one goals in the summer is to get outside as much as possible. Whether it’s to a playground, park, around the neighborhood, to a local coffee shop (drive thru or dine in, depending on your little people’s moods that day haha), getting out of the house is a GAME CHANGER for my mood. Here are some places that are fun to go before that long afternoon nap:

  • Breakfast walk: I love doing this with the boys and look forward to getting out of the house before the heat picks up. It starts the day with an adventure (something I’ve recently put words to thanks to this episode of the 1000 Hours Outside podcast) and is a refreshing time for me, too.
  • Creek Stomping / Hiking: Personally, I’d pick exploring a creek bed over a playground any day — it’s less crowded, I don’t have to worry about them falling off the top of insanely high structures (lollll), and I love the curiosity and creativity it breeds! And, most importantly: SHADE!!! Some of our favorites around the NE Indianapolis area are: Marrott Park (creek and trail), Ritchie Woods (trail), Founder’s Park (easy access trail – good for scooters and strollers too!), Cool Creek Park (they have a nature center, too!) and Flowing Well Park (creek and trail).
  • local yard sales or thrift shops
  • the library (we LOVE our local library and this is always a great spot no matter the ages of your people)
  • coffee shops – a snack for my boys and some coffee for me :)
  • Monon walks – again, with coffee :)
  • And of course, there’s also the Indianapolis Zoo, Conner Prairie, and the Children’s Museum. These are great options if you can afford a membership, but they’re definitely not a necessity. We currently have a Conner Prairie pass, and I know we’ll spend plenty of mornings saying hello to the farm animals and adventuring away on their outdoor playground.

Part Two: Activities to do Around the Home

Even when we are staying home, I still try to get outside our house in the summer. We live on a culdesac with a fenced in yard, which means I have zero problems sending the boys outside unsupervised now…but even when they were younger, we still went outside all the time to pass the time. Here are some of our favorite yard activities:

  • worm hunting: all you need is bucket and shovel, and they’re good to go!
  • growing a garden: we are doing this for the first time, and I’m already loving the way it passes the time.
  • watering flowers / plants: all my people *love* water, so telling them to fill up buckets and watering cans to dump on all the plants and flowers is always greeted with a cheer!
  • observing nature: birds, moss, flowers, trees, dirt, and more! Nature is always changing and growing – especially at this time of year! It’s so fun to slow down and really look at the plants and ground around you. We love doing this daily!
  • Water table: my mother-in-law sent us this when Adam was little, and the boys love it year after year! But you don’t even need a fancy water table…I used to just fill up buckets with water and put toy animals and measuring cups in it, and they had just as much fun!
  • Hammock: I *love* our hammock. It’s restful for me…the boys get a kick out of playing “Stinky Foot Pirates” on it (a game that involves yelling “stinky foot pirates” over and over again while being silly and not trying to fall off….)…it’s just the best.
  • Popsicle story time: I credit this to Sarah Mackenzie of “The Read Aloud Family” — but love the idea of corralling all the people onto a blanket or out on the deck with the promise of popsicles and a fun story! Feels like a fun way to get outside and have quality time together — plus enjoy a yummy treat. :) We’ll be trying this a lot this summer!

And, because this deserves a quick little separate list all on it’s own:

To the mom facing summer with a new babe:

  1. First and foremost, you’ve got this. I know it seems like everything is different and a bit overwhelming…like it’s impossible to do all the fun things. While you won’t be able to do *everything*, there still is so much adventure (and peace of mind!) to be had. I promise!
  2. The Baby Bjorn (or anything like it!) will be your bff. I love how portable this guy is, and I think I brought it outside almost everyday last summer to set Noah in the shade and enjoy outdoor time with the big boys. I even got chores done this way: he’d bounce / nap in the shade while I pulled weeds, picked up dog poop, or even mowed! Some moms love baby-wearing for these things, but the boys were never a fan…and I personally thought it was way too hot for the summer! But that could be a great option to try, too. :)
  3. Also, this stroller fan for hot days!
  4. The best piece of advice I can think of is to make routines, but hold them loosely. Have a plan to get out of the house (even if just a walk around the neighborhood!) in the morning. Like the breakfast walks I mentioned above — the perfect time to get your little one outside before the heat picks up AND get some fresh air for yourself, too (and the wiggles out of your toddlers / big kids if you make them bike or scooter!). Nap schedules are changing constantly for almost the entire first year it feels like…so be prepared for the day to not go as you prepared. It will be okay. <3
  5. If you have other small children, try to have fun things at home for the days you just can’t seem to make it out. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy: some chalk, flowers to water, bubbles, water table, etc will all do the trick! Some days it just felt like way too much getting all the boys out the door…but by making our home a fun space to be, it was so much more enjoyable.
  6. If you have a YMCA membership, you can put your infant in Play and Learn and get quality water time with your bigs! I did this a few times last summer and loved the time with Ryan and Adam.

What other tips would you share? I’d love to hear more in the comments below or via Instagram!

Images from our Mother’s Day 2022 outing to Flowing Well Park | Shot with my phone and edited with my personal Lightroom preset




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Sami Orndorff is a Wedding Photographer & Lifestyle Newborn Photographer located in the greater Indianapolis area.