"Summer... summer... summer, summer, summer, summer.... WOOOH!" Doesn't everyone think of the opening scene from High School Musical 2 when they're let off the hook for the summer? I mean the excitement is so tangible - relatable! Chances are you have some pretty big plans for what you're going to do with all your fun summer free-time. But when that excitement wears off (and you're stuck thinking about how your summer jobs allow you little to no social life) do you still have a plan for making every day of summer count? Allow me to list some fun and simple ideas for creating a relaxing, memorable summer.

Coffee shop hop.

Sidecar Coffee in Cedar Falls, Iowa!

Hallie Spore

I'm all over this one. If you love coffee (or even hot chocolate + the charming aesthetic of a coffee shop), spend some time investigating the best ones around you! I get that between jobs and other important things on your plate it might be hard to spend a lot of time idle in a coffee shop, so maybe take your laptop and do some work, while you're at it. You don't have to buy coffee every time, either - if you find one shop you really like, just go and read, or draw, or whatever your creative, wonderful self loves to do. Sometimes they even have live music, so be on the lookout! (I think this is where I slyly promote Sidecar Coffee in Cedar Falls, Iowa? Yeah, best latte I've ever had, soooooo...)

Go for morning walks.

Woman walking in the morning

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Though summer is *traditionally* a season of sleeping in, it's also a season of beauty! And who wants to experience that beauty while you're frying like an egg and pitting out in 100 degree heat? Exactly. Wake up just a little earlier (like 7 AM) and go walk when the air is still light and the sun has yet to fully expose itself. It is SO relaxing and a great way to start the day.

Have a picnic.

picnic

Photo by Valeria Boltneva from Pexels

Whether that means you eat outside during your lunch break or you go all out and have a picnic blanket, basket, and someone to share it with, a picnic is one of the most summery things I can think of. It's also cheap and cute, and doesn't HAVE to be some huge ordeal (unless you want it to be.)

Family/friend game night.

Monopoly game

Ylanite Koppens on Pexel

If you're home with your family over the summer, take advantage of it! Or invite some friends over - either way, choose a night to get the board games out for some competitive rounds of dominoes or Apples to Apples, or a whole day devoted to Monopoly! And if it's nice out, maybe take to the yard for an evening game of soccer or kickball! Even if you can't always be out and about, you can have fun with the people around you.

Explore.

Man walking in a field

Bas Masseus - pexels.com

Go somewhere you've never gone before, maybe with some buddies or a few other people you love. Drive down a gravel road just to see where it ends. walk through a field or go take a hike on some cool looking trail. Acquire that bold and carefree spirit of adventure! I promise it'll serve you well.

Have a summer reading list.

reading a book outside

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Maybe you're not a reader, and that's okay, but I challenge you to find at least one interesting-looking book and make it your goal to finish it over the summer. I find that reading makes me think and also gives me something to look forward to when I get off work. If you love to read, you're never going to have a better time! Knock a few (or 10) books off your reading list.

Use Your Weekends Wisely.

Weekend breakfast

Photo by Lum3n.com from Pexels

Okay, so most of us have jobs, and if we didn't, we'd have no funds for important/fun things (like college!). I get it. And that's why a summer weekend is SO valuable! Friday nights into Saturday and Sunday are usually pretty wide open for most people, and though I don't know what your idea of fun is, mine would involve movies with friends, golfing, traveling with my family, visiting grandparents, going shopping, fishing, or meeting up with my college friends - and then going to church with my family. Whatever you do, just know summer weekends are the most carefree times you'll ever have, so use them wisely.

Stop and listen.

Couple sitting on a bench near a pond

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Listen to the birds chirping when you wake up. To crickets humming from the grass as you relax on your porch. Listen to the sounds of the neighborhood: kids playing a couple yards down, two or three lawn mowers buzzing and growling at the same time - maybe you're close enough to hear "Despacito" playing over the speakers of the local pool (which I'm sure can either be a positive or a negative!) Motorcycles zip by. The ice cream truck's familiar, nostalgic tune makes your heart beat fast and mouth water. And THUNDERSTORMS!! Oh, don't get me started. Summer has so many great sounds.

Take Lots of Photos.

Taking a photo in a busy street

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

Document your summer well! Snap a few shots of that beautiful tree blooming outside your window, and lots of sweet photos on your adventures with friends! Even your dog getting totally drenched in the sprinkler is memorable. And if you're in it for the Insta, you should already know just how much aesthetic potential summer has.

Give of yourself.

Assisting the elderly

Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

Do something truly meaningful with the time you have this summer. Volunteer at a nursing home and read to the ladies and gentlemen there. Go play with your little siblings - I bet they'd love that. Or maybe find a younger kid or friend who really needs someone to look up to. Once you find what you're passionate about, go do it. And do it with all of you. A very smart man named Bob Goff once said, "Quit waiting for a plan; just go love everybody." I think he's right to say that. You'll make a real impact on someone else's life, and wouldn't you like to look back on a summer like that? One where you gave yourself away a little more and gained a joy you never knew about?