Going off the clock: The 2018 summer fun list

It’s that time again! Memorial Day is around the corner, and it’s time to start planning. Every summer, I make a list of activities that make summer feel like summer to me. The goal is to enjoy the season, and make copious memories by the time Labor Day rolls around. The more memories we have of a period of time, the longer it seems as we think back on it. Why not have a summer that seems to last forever? It’s a great way to feel…off the clock.

Here’s what’s on this year’s list. Please send me yours! I am always looking for ideas.

Savor the launch of Off the Clock. If you’ve ordered the book (thank you!) you’ll soon find out that savoring is a big theme. Thanks to my research, I am now armed with tools to stretch the experience of time. And so I am committing to savor this launch. Yes, I’ve written books before. But still, it is such a cool thing to see one’s ideas made manifest. I wanted to write books for a living and I do! I intend to pause and enjoy that fact many times this summer. (And enjoy a toast around publication.)

Go strawberry picking. Nothing says summer like ripe red strawberries with homemade whipped cream. I need to get this on the calendar soon because remember, the berry season is short. (Bonus points if you know what that phrase is from.)

Visit the Pine Barrens. I’ve been reading John McPhee’s book on this forest in New Jersey. This wilderness — and it is a wilderness — is in the middle of one of the most densely populated corridors in the country. It would be easy enough to go there as a day trip, and so I’d like to visit and hike and see what it’s all about.

Come up with a good birthday present for my husband. He is celebrating a milestone birthday this summer. (I am celebrating one this winter, but a different one!) Something creative…

Go to a beer garden. Philly has several. It would be a fun, easy date night, or a way to get together with friends.

Eat ice cream at Days in Ocean Grove. We’ll be spending a week there again this summer. Visiting this little town on the Jersey shore is definitely part of making summer feel like summer for me (also, now that I’ve created the fictional Jersey Shore town of Maris Stella for Juliet’s School of Possibilities, it’s good to visit and make sure I got it right!)

Eat lobster in Cape May. Another repeat from previous years: eating at The Lobster House on the water is always nice.

Do “Mommy Days” with all four kids. Spending one-on-one time with my kids is often the most pleasant (and memorable) part of parenting. I will do a day trip with each of the kids to some place they’re excited about visiting. This has often been Hersheypark, or Dutch Wonderland, but we’ll see if anyone comes up with a different idea this year.

See the fountains and fireworks at Longwood Gardens. We have tickets for August. Come to think of it, there’s a beer garden there, so this might be a combo.

Visit Yellowstone. On the agenda! Longtime readers may recall that I made my booking in the Old Faithful Lodge on May 1, 2017 in order to get prime August 2018 dates. Given how much I liked Provo, UT, we may add a Utah stop onto the beginning (SLC, as far as I can tell, is the airport closest to the Yellowstone area that actually has direct Philly flights.)

Sit on the porch on summer evenings. Watching the light change, listening to the birds — all great ways to wind down. Before sitting on the porch, I also want to go for some walks. At least one evening a week, a little post prandial stroll, maybe with a kid or two.

Go for some solo swims. As a mom, I wind up spending a lot of time watching various little people in the pool. I want to go in the pool ALL BY MYSELF and not watch anyone else. Related to this:

Read a book on the beach. Meaning I am not keeping anyone who can’t swim from leaping into the waves, refereeing sand wars between siblings, etc.

Update my summer wardrobe. I would like to get a better swimsuit, and some more casual clothes and shoes that I enjoy wearing. To do this, though, I also need to clean out my closet, which is having some trouble making its way up my priority list. Maybe by putting this entry on this list, I can nudge myself to get it done.

What’s on your summer fun list?

18 thoughts on “Going off the clock: The 2018 summer fun list

  1. You might want to check out Joy Ike at Longwood Gardens- I believe she will be playing the beer garden in July and August. I first heard of her during last year’s tiny desk concerts with NPR and have followed her on social media ever since. She just released an album and it’s beautiful ( the music by the trio is listed as soul/ Folk Music). I have a busy summer but I really want to try and make it to see one of her shows ( and I think Longwood Gardens would be a phenomenal venue).

    I love the idea of savoring- I have actually been working on doing this in my own life. Our new house is being built and we are staying with another family- I don’t want to rush through any of it. I am enjoying the experience of watching the house being built one phase at a time. I am enjoying the company of friends and the larger ‘family’ meals we have together. I am enjoying the slow countdown to my last day of work at my current job. I am enjoying having a whole summer to plan with my children in our new home in a new town. I am enjoying the process of deciding what to do with my time in this next phase of my life.

    I look forward to watching you check off your summer bucket list!!

    1. @Angela – I will check her out! And I think it might be hard to savor something like a house being built because yes, one so wants to get transitions over with. But there are probably some good moments, ones worth not wishing away!

  2. Just one comment on the swimsuit…. I have LOVED Athleta swimsuits. And actually Land’s End, which makes me feel like my Mom, but they have some cute ones. Thick fabrics and bra sizing really help me feel comfortable in a swimsuit.

    1. @LD – I may have to look into them – Land’s End does have something of a matronly vibe in my mind, but hey, who am I kidding.

  3. Just have to comment that I am changing my summer “chore” list to my summer fun list. Fun to think about and know I will accomplish more on a list like this.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. @Nancy- summer fun list sounds much nicer than summer chore list! See if stuff can be reframed 🙂

  4. We are moving in two weeks, so I’m hoping to spend lots of the summer exploring our new state (NC)! Also, not so much on the fun list, but the needs-to-happen list, clearing out a lot of stuff as part of the move. I know I should do it now, but I can’t bring myself to sort through kids’ clothes this week, and will wait until I’m unpacking (our things get packed up and shipped for us). Also, more reading! I have so, so many books I want to read.

    1. @Meghan – exploring a new state is a great summer fun concept. I bet you could make a great list of stuff within a 90-minute drive and have all kinds of fun checking them off.

  5. Ooh, thanks for the nudge to do our summer list. It’ll be a good activity for Memorial Day. We’ve got a couple of trips planned locally – Reno for a conference, downtown San Francisco for a whole week in July, and maybe another solo road trip with my younger daughter. We also hope to get to Six Flags at least twice, do a messy art project outside, and hopefully the girls will be confident swimmers by the end of their lessons. I also hope to finish two scrapbooks (2018 Week in the Life and 2017 trip to Chicago). Regarding a summer wardrobe, I have really been enjoying the fashion stuff on the “Putting Me Together” blog – it’s accessible and fun and has really gotten me to try stuff I wouldn’t normally buy. I also bought a swimsuit last year from one of Amazon’s new in-house brands and I LOVE it.

  6. I just made our summer fun list today – great minds think alike! (Or maybe you’ve just training me really well LOL!) Here it is: watch fireworks, go swimming a lot (maximize that neighborhood pool membership), go to the movies (probably Incredibles 2), try a new ice cream place, go on a family vacation (we have our passports!), go berry picking, catch fireflies, go on a family bike ride, go to local amusement park (thanks grandma for season passes), go camping, make s’mores, have a BBQ with friends, play in the sprinkler, do the library summer reading program. (As I type this out, I’m realizing it’s a very kid-centric list… I need to do some thinking about my own summer fun list items!)

    1. @Sarah K- having everyone’s passports is huge! You have to travel just to take advantage of all the work I’m sure you had to do to achieve that situation. 🙂

  7. Have you checked out Boden for swimsuits? They have some pretty cute but decently supportive stuff for moms who don’t want to give up style.

    As for the pine barrens… ever seen the Sopranos episode where Paulie and Christopher have an, um, adventure down there? Fantastically funny and unforgettable!

  8. I look forward to your Summer Fun list every year, and thank you so much for the concept, which I now use every year. Summer is my least favorite season in Florida, and it helps me get through it when I have a list of fun things to look forward to. I haven’t made my list yet this year, but will be doing so soon. Hope you have a wonderful summer!

  9. We were just working on our summer fun list a few days ago! There are more options this year with the twins being a little older. We are definitely excited about a trip up to our family cabin near Bar Harbor, Maine (loved how your new book starts off in one of my favorite places). There is a neat natural attraction on a hiking trail that’s not too far away from our house – something that I’ve always wanted to check out – so we added that to the list for this summer.

    One nice thing about the summer fun list is that when people ask about gift ideas for upcoming birthdays, I can give them some suggestions based on places we plan to visit this summer. Experience gifts are so much better than more toys.

    1. @Harmony- how awesome to have a family cabin near Bar Harbor! It is so beautiful there… And good suggestion on making the list and then asking for help in making some of the items happen as gifts.

  10. what is the strawberry phrase from? on my bucket list is clean my daughter’s toy room and give to a local homeless shelter. make cat nip toys from her old baby socks and cat nip for the anmial shelter. also do some of the kidstir subscription box recipes.

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