A Very Low-Key Summer Checklist

What’s on your summer checklist? I’m excited for lazy summer weekends with nothing on the docket but listening for the ice-cream truck. Here are 10 laid-back things the boys and I are looking forward to…

1. Honestly, just knock around. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” wrote poet Mary Oliver. And she wasn’t talking about hard work; she was describing the joy of watching a grasshopper in the grass. So, take a minute to watch a grasshopper, or slooowwwwlllly eat an ice cream cone, or spot constellations in the night sky (or on the ceiling). That’s wild-and-precious-life stuff.

2. Take a shower in the dark. The other day, I woke up early and wasn’t ready for bright lights. So, I stepped into the shower in the dark and it felt spa-light and calming. Maybe next time I’ll light a candle.

3. Play a board game but make it interesting. Nine-year-old Anton loves the thrill of betting, so we play Dog Bingo for 50 cents each round. It makes me laugh how invested we get. Alternately, predict your future by playing M.A.S.H.

A Very Low-Key Summer Checklist

4. Watch a bunch of TV and don’t worry about it. The whole thing about summer is that you get to take your foot off the gas. May I suggest Frasier? Or any of these great series.

5. Text a heartfelt compliment to a friend. Prompts: what makes them beautiful, something they’ve taught you, why you enjoy their company, the exact moment you knew you’d be friends…

6. Try a new nail polish. Every summer, like clockwork, my sister asks for a nail color recommendation. For 2023, my emphatic answer is a sheer blush.

A Very Low-Key Summer Checklist

7. Sit at a café and soak up the conversation. A reader named Alicia once described her simple pleasure as, “listening to strangers’ pleasant idle chatter, e.g. on public transportation, in hair salons, etc.” It’s like people-watching but juicier.

8. Make orange juice popsicles, like we did growing up in the Midwest, or whip up the perfect snack before dinner.

9. Just add water. This brilliant parenting advice works for grown-ups, too. Jump in a pool, drive through a car wash, wade in the ocean, drink ice water with cucumber, run through the sprinklers. (I’m kind of curious about Swimply, which is like the Airbnb of pools — has anyone tried it?)

A Very Low-Key Summer Checklist

10. Make a list of specific personal delights. When readers shared their hobbies, I especially loved Leighton’s answer: “I’ve always had a hard time remembering what I enjoy doing, so I began keeping lists titled ‘Things I Do for Fun.’ Not knowing what I like doing has always made me feel like a robot, but as it turns out, I’m just neurodivergent!” I love the concept of sparking ideas for your future self.

What’s on your summer checklist? 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. Plus, past summer ideas here and here.

(Top photo by Nicki Sebastian, dog photo by Jenny Rosenstrach.)