We like to think of summer as being a season when living is easier — and it can be! But to get that vacation-every-day mentality, it helps to do a bit of prep work and strategic thinking first. Spend less time cleaning and filing paperwork, and more time sipping iced tea and lounging at the pool, with these 10 tips for making your everyday life as simple as possible.
1. Go barefoot. The habit of removing shoes on the way in the door can prevent a lot of dirt and sand from making its way into your house. This equals less time cleaning — and besides, what else says summer like going barefoot? If a shoe rack seems too fussy or bulky, keep a nice big basket in the entry instead to collect sandals.
2. Roll up the rugs. It’s also easier to keep floors clean when you have an expanse of the same type of flooring— plus, hard floors feel cooler in summer. Have area rugs cleaned (some small ones can be laundered at home) before rolling and storing them in an out-of-the-way closet. If you’re storing your rugs until fall, just be sure that the storage area you choose is cool and dry, and cover them with drop cloths to keep out dust.
3. Encourage quick cleanups with baskets. If you want to be more spontaneous with inviting friends over this summer, but don’t want to spend all your time keeping your house looking “guest ready,” a few judiciously placed baskets may be the solution you need. Position a basket in each room, and if you need to do a quick cleanup, you can just sweep stray items into the baskets. And voilà, clean(-ish) house! Baskets are also great for carrying items from one area of the house back to the room where they belong or up the stairs.
4. Shop the farmers market and order essentials online. You have to eat, but that doesn’t mean you have to get your ingredients in the same old way. Instead of sticking with the usual weekly grocery store trip, why not change things up for summer? Allow yourself to explore local farm stands and farmers markets, selecting the freshest-looking ingredients, and to fill in the gaps by ordering basics online (both retail giants and many local markets now offer online ordering).
5. Have kids “earn” screen time. Is limiting screen time a struggle in your house? I love the idea of having kids “earn” minutes of screen time by completing tasks. Keep the jobs on a wall chart, or write the options on craft sticks and keep them in a jar that kids can pull from (completed tasks go in a second jar). I’m of the mind that certain basic household chores are simply a part of being in the family, and should be done without any sort of special reward or allowance. But there are always things that parents would love kids to do more of — like summer reading or math, or chores and home projects that go above and beyond bed-making and toy cleanup.
6. Grill and eat outdoors. When it’s hot out, the last thing you probably want to do is turn on the oven or stir a pot on the stove. Plan grill-based meals instead, and you can avoid cooking indoors (as well as cut down on cleanup time). And when dinner is ready, why not enjoy it on the deck or patio? Keep a wastebasket (or compost collecting bin) and dishpan outside, and you can scrape plates and easily transport dishes ready to pop in the dishwasher.
7. Embrace your inner paper piler. Filing papers is probably not your idea of a good time, especially not in midsummer when there are much better things to do (like go to the beach). Then again, no one likes pawing through a massive paper pile either! Split the difference and institute an easy summer paper piling system. Several boxes or paper organizers and a handful of labels are all you need to get set up. For example: Create a bin each for bills, events, receipts, important records and personal correspondence. When you do get a chance to file some of that paper, it will be sorted and more manageable.
8. Live out of a suitcase (or at least pretend to). Part of what makes going on vacation feel so fun and carefree is actually the lack of options. You probably agonize over what to pack, carefully choosing outfits that can mix and match, and then … that’s it! You can wake up and quickly pick an outfit because the tricky part has already been done. Apply this suitcase principle to your summer wardrobe at home by “packing” for your summer and putting the clothes that don’t make the cut into storage (or the back of the closet). You can always retrieve a piece if you decide you do want to wear it, but you may just find that you can get away with having fewer clothes than you thought!
9. Simplify bedding. Summer weather means you likely can get away with a lighter blanket and quilt instead of a heavy duvet. And while you’re at it, why not put away the extra throw pillows too? Making the bed is easier when the bedding is minimal.
10. Make breakfast and lunch a self-serve affair. If you’re tired of feeling like a short-order cook, it may be time to start making meal prep more of a DIY experience. Try setting out a make-your-own smoothie or granola parfait bar with ingredients and a stack of dishes. For children’s lunches, encourage self-help skills by organizing healthy lunch ingredients on color-coded trays in the fridge (each food group gets a color), so they can pick from each one for a balanced meal.