kids disposable camera by nicki sebastian

What’s on your summer checklist? I work full time, but I love lazy summer weekends with nothing on the schedule except to eat strawberries straight from the colander. Here are 10 low-key things we’re hoping to do this summer (and I’d love to hear yours)…

Swim. Jump in the pool and don’t care about what you look like because no one else does. (As my mom says, “Everyone’s just worried about themselves.”) Here’s an amazing quote by Jamie Varon: “Go to the lake. Or the beach. Be the first to jump in the water. Tell everyone else, ‘Come in! It’s nice in here!’ Be the arbiter and instigator of joy. Make memories so precise and wonderful that, 20 years from now, you’ll say with longing and light in your eyes, ‘Remember that beautiful summer of 2019 when we said yes to life?’… Get sand in places that are inconvenient. Get your hair wet. Open your eyes under the water. Read a whole book in one day. Shield your eyes from the sunlight and think, ‘Oh my god, I am free.'”

Try a new-to-you ice cream flavor. Especially the yogurt flavor! It sounds like the worst but is actually the best!

Watch a movie from when you were little. My kids are really into modern-day movies — Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Spiderman, etc.— but now and again we try to wrestle them into watching something we loved as kids. The Sound of Music felt slow to them (heartbreak), but they loved the original Parent Trap and Back to the Future.

Give kids a disposable camera. My mom gave us all disposable cameras one summer growing up, and we still talk about what a genius idea that was. We went crazy for them and took such funny shots — my brother took photos over a wall he wasn’t tall enough to peek over, just so he could know what was on the other side!

Play board games. We like Too Many Monkeys and Guess Who. Alex and I have even played them ourselves after the boys have gone to sleep, haha.

One night, throw bedtime to the wolves and let your kids stay up as late as they can. Once last summer, Alex was putting the boys to bed while I set out on a bike ride, and the weather was so glorious, breezy and clean, it felt like it was kissing your skin. So, I went back inside and said to the boys, “Put your clothes back on, we’re going out!” We ended up taking a bike ride, getting popsicles from the deli and coming home way after dark. It’s one of my favorite memories.

Read a great book. Any beach read recs? I recently laughed my way through Calypso, and next I’m going old-school with Sense & Sensibility.

Leave your phone at home. Whenever I go for an evening walk with the boys, I try to leave my phone behind because I know myself and how I’ll feel the weight of the phone in my pocket and check a quick email and feel like I have to reply and end up thinking about work the whole time. Instead, I leave my phone at home and if there’s downtime where the boys are happily playing on their own, I just LOOK AROUND. (Imagine that!) It feels so good to turn your brain off and simply notice things, like clouds that look like waves or chubby babies learning to walk or a woman with a cute skirt or roses at the park that you can stop to smell.

Make a crumble. What is it that’s so good about crumble? This recipe works for any fruit.

Stay inside and don’t feel bad about it. My friend Sharon uses the term “catch-up days,” where you all need a break, so you stay inside and do nothing at all. Maybe watch a movie at 1 p.m.? Just make sure not to do anything productive because that’s against the rules.

swimming in the pool by latonya yvette

What’s on your list for summer? I’d love to hear. And here’s the best parenting advice I ever got.

P.S. Trying out slow parenting, and surprising things about raising kids in Northern Ireland, France and Japan.

(Top photo by Nicki Sebastian. Bottom photo by LaTonya Yvette.)