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Summer Self-Care Bucket List

School is out! The longs months of summer stretch ahead of us, and as things open back up again, we can make some plans to get back out and have some fun!

But before we get too crazy, making plans for all the fun places we can go and things we can do with our friends, let's make sure we're caring for our souls first! While we may be tempted to sleep in until the kids get up, I find it's so much better when I set my alarm and get up before them. Then I have a few minutes of peace and quiet (hopefully) to drink a cup of coffee and do some Bible study before the events of the day take over my attention. I'm currently working through the Chronological Life Application Study Bible NLT.

After that, let's look at some ideas for how we can make the most of our time this summer!

I'm really looking forward to increasing my leisure reading. I try to stay away from novels most of the time because I get really grumpy when anyone distracts me from my story. So, I'll try to sneak a few in this summer for fun, but only when I have some free time to finish them quickly. I love books dearly, so I can't imagine a self-care list that doesn't include some good books to help expand our horizons and get us thinking! (My mom is now totally rolling her eyes. She's in the camp of: "I read to relax, not think." If you're interested in her recommendations, send me a private message and I'll be happy to pass those on to you.) On MY current reading list for the summer, here are some of the books you'll find...

The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert. I've already listened to most of the audiobook, but I'm looking forward to studying it more with the paperback. I see it more as a reference book than a one-time read.

Married with Special-Needs Children: A Couple's Guide to Keeping Connected, by Laura E. Marshak and Fran Pollack Prexant. This is not a Christian book, but I've been unable to find much of these type of resources within the Christian community. I'm hoping for some practical help that I can apply to my own marriage and pass on to others.

Now that Faith Has Come: A Study of Galatians, by Beth Moore and Melissa Moore. This is Beth's latest Bible study and I'm very curious about it. If I really like it, I'm going to suggest it as the next study for my Bible study group.

Make Something Good Today: A Memoir, by Erin and Ben Napier. Their show, Home Town, is something I really enjoy, so I plan to listen to their audiobook next. (After I finish one I won't share on here because it's science fiction and a little crazy, but we all need to throw in a little weirdness every one in awhile, don't we?)

If you follow me on Instagram, I'll try to follow up on all these books and any others I read over the summer, to let you know what I think.

Some churches do short-term women's Bible studies in the summer, and that's a great way to take care of yourself too. When you find one that lets you bring your kids along, you've struck gold! If they have someone there to watch the kids, don't forget to offer to kick in a little money, if possible, to say thank you.

Now that our minds and hearts are covered, let's talk about ways we can take good care of our bodies this summer. I highly recommend that you set aside some time and resources to make sure you do something nice for yourself this summer - a facial, a massage, a mani/pedi, or some other pampering service. At least once! If you're trying to save money, check out Groupon or other deal sites, or get together with some girlfriends and assign everyone a job. Put one in charge of facials, one in charge of nails, one in charge of shoulder massages, etc.

Also on the bucket list - at least 15 minutes a day of sunshine. Put on your sunglasses and get outside! Vitamin D is so important to our physical and mental health! We have a patio table and I especially enjoy eating lunch outside whenever possible. I've also done my best to set up a fun play area for our kids in the yard. It helps them get exercise while they entertain themselves, and I'm planning to soak up the sun while I enjoy their shenanigans.

Exercise! We need to move our bodies. There are so many free online programs available right now, so hit up YouTube. I just bit the bullet and bought a treadmill so I can walk, regardless of the weather. We're also planning to fix up an old bike we found on the farm so I can take the big kids on bike rides. Find a nearby park where your kids can play and walk around it with a friend. Take a dance class. Go for a swim! Check out what author, Jess Connolly, is saying about our bodies right now. She just released a new book, Breaking Free from Body Shame: Dare to Reclaim What God has Called God, and as of this morning, I'm on chapter two of the audiobook and loving it.

Schedule time off. I work from home, and I'm my own boss. Yay! This has always been my dream, but little did I know how demanding of a boss I am. Yikes. I can totally forget to take any time off at all. I can work nearly every moment that I'm not sleeping. It has been a major learning experience for me to set some boundaries around my work and family time. No matter what you do - full-time stay-at-home-mom, working mom, work-from-home-mom, or anything else in between - set aside some time in your schedule to be "off." For me, that means spending time with my husband and kiddos without a screen in front of my face. For you, that might mean stepping away from your family for a few hours a week. I'm really hoping to spend some time at a family lake house this summer - phone off, laptop closed, sun in my face, chasing my kids around the yard.

Create something! You might not consider yourself to be very creative, but we all have the capacity to create SOMETHING. Is it your year to create and garden? Or paint that neglected room in your house and hang some pictures on the wall? Maybe it's that craft project that you got all the supplies for six years ago and it's still sitting in a bag in the closet? Oooohh, how about creating the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe that makes your mouth water just thinking about it? (You might want to deliver some of those cookies to your friends...) Find something that gives you a sense of satisfaction and create it. I really enjoy planning home spaces. I got through three-hour-long seminary classes by designing the perfect house, complete with secret passageways and a tower library! The other day I was just totally out of energy, but didn't want to sleep. Instead, I designed a New York City writer's apartment. I'm not selling my designs or planning to actually build them, but there's something so freeing about creating a space that's exactly the way you'd want it if you had no budget or space boundaries.

Take a social media break. I ran across an old post the other day in which I had actually turned OFF my phone for a weekend. Turned it off!!! What is this craziness? Well, in all fairness, I did have a home phone back then and could be reached in an emergency, but still. I turned my phone off and put it down for three whole days. I'm not sure how that would work these days, with GPS and my camera on my phone, plus children and a husband that might need to reach me, but what I can do is uninstall my social media apps for a few days. I can leave my phone on my nightstand, or put it in airplane mode. I can - gasp - not respond to texts or calls until a pre-determined time. Try this... Set an auto-reply on your texts and emails, and change your voicemail to say - "I'm currently unavailable until (day). I'll catch up with you then." Don't even apologize. We all need a break from time to time.

That's all for now, my friends! I'd love to hear how it goes for you. Radical self-care should, in theory, trickle down to the rest of your family. You'll be so content and at peace that they reap the benefits of your refreshed and joyful self. I hope you have a great summer!


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