How Not to Lose this Summer that’s Slipping By

Under a massive blue sky, mammoth cotton clouds slide shadows across the deck and my pink skin. Motorcycles hum, birds sing, and a hot wind buffets sweaty skin.

How do you make a summer stretch long? In between the jobs, park play dates, garage sale fundraisers, summer camp carpools, and youth missions trip details, how does a family make sure to savor and slow down?

He splashes happily on slick wood slats now, smacking a soaking wet towel against deck floorboards, physics and fun combined. “Mom, can I have some more water please? I dumped it all out.” Wet Spiderman underwear on a skinny four year old body battles shadows on the deck, as I run cool water into the metal bowl again.

In between the jobs, the games, and the phone calls, will you take time with me this summer to slow down? Slit and nibble hot spinach leaves from a sandy garden. Dance angry on gopher mounds with me. Plot mole murders. Grill burgers, transplant raspberries, invite friends over for home-made iced tea, and slip into swimsuits, hidden away on the deck, to nap under cottony clouds.

How do you slow down time? F. Diane Barth, a licensed clinical social worker, in her article “Can We Slow Down Time?” references neuropsychologists to state that “our brains are wired not only to recognize increments of time but also to have a certain kind of elasticity around how long any particular experience seems to last.”

So how do we slow down time, and feel more relaxed this summer? Here are four things that help me.

1.) Intentionally carve out time to relax. Don’t fill the calendar too full, and say no to some events.

2.) Make sure to do something every day that brings you joy. Whether it is gardening, biking, sunbathing, writing, reading, or having a friend over, commit to plan that into your days and weeks.

3.) Be fully present in every event. Don’t dash from one event to the next, but slow yourself to see the people beside you. Pause, listen, and be there. (This is hard for me some days.)

4.) Breathe deeply and slowly. It is scientifically-proven to slow down our muscles, heart rates, and emotions.

My four-year old? He’s in from the deck now. Plastic spoons, a metal bowl, and crumpled wet clothes are the only reminders from the deck that he was there.The puddles and splashes have evaporated and dried already in the time it took to write this and run him a warm bath. He plays happily now in his room, and the afternoon turns to suppertime.

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  1. cabinart on June 19, 2013 at 3:42 am

    Sometimes I have to do a reality check. Buried deep inside is the idea that summer is time off, vacation, do less, sleep in. Maybe, but life and work and responsibilities are not on the childhood school schedule.

    So, I have to decide, on purpose, to look at my calendar and cross off time. Do the work that can't wait and then let the work that can wait just go for awhile.

    It really bugs me to be at the cabin and still be all jeezled up from racing around while at home/work (they are the same address).

  2. Alicia on June 19, 2013 at 4:57 am

    Oh, thank you, Jennifer, for this reminder to slow down and savor this unique season with all the kids home. I love the idea of planning ONE thing we enjoy everyday. It seems like a no-brainer, but the truth is, sometimes I just get lost in the laundry piles and the carpooling and the dishes that pile higher when everyone's home to eat all day long- and I just forget to drop it all and have FUN. Love my visits here!

  3. Jennifer Dougan on June 20, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    It's true, Jana. Childhood summer schedules must shape so much of how we feel about summer. For our homeschooling family, summer stills feels so refreshing to not be teaching. My challenge now though is to be self-motivated and consistent for other things in my life: writing,etc.

    So, at the cabin, do you get to set days and hours for both work and play? Do you have a typical schedule that fits you best?


  4. Jennifer Dougan on June 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm


    Glad this helps you too! 🙂 So, what are some thing that bring you joy that you like to sprinkle into a day?


  5. Floyd on June 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Wow… it struck me as the water evaporated leaving memories of the day, so it is our lives are; "like a vapor…" Powerful. I'll be breathing deeper and enjoying each day. I enjoyed this…

  6. Elisabeth OKeefe on June 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    There are some great ideas here:)
    In answer to your question, no, my family and I can't make it to Family Camp this year:(
    But I met Morgan at Disciples In Training and had tons of fun with her:)
    I'll be helping out in different weeks during the summer so that will be awesome!

  7. Cheryl Barker on June 21, 2013 at 4:35 am

    Taking photos helps me slow down and enjoy life around me. I don't always take time to do it, but I do try to pause for some photo therapy every now and then.

    p.s. sounds like you've got some gopher issues 🙂

  8. Heather on June 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)

  9. Jayne on June 22, 2013 at 1:44 am

    In less than two months now, my youngest will leave for college and our house will be empty after 22 1/2 years of being full. I am not rushing this at all. I take it one day at a time. If he comes into my room after being out late, I talk with him, listen to him until late into the next morning. I think the way to enjoy what time we have is to enjoy the moment and don't be in a hurry for it to end. Our lives go by way too quickly as it is.

  10. elaine @ peace for the journey on June 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I just now finished scrubbing down the bathroom walls in anticipation of the next pastor and his family who will occupy this parsonage. In that time, my heart was at peace and full of hope/prayers for the home that will be built here.

    Great tips, Jennifer. I'm all for slowing down and giving my soul room enough to breathe.

  11. Dontmissyoursunsetlady on June 26, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Great advice here…. Summers are busy times for those in youth ministry! Thank you for sharing your insights!

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