Now I wasn’t quite around in the summer of ’69 but when I was a child the summers certainly seemed to last forever and I do fondly look back on them as the best days of my life. So whilst on the packed and sweaty tube this morning on the way to work, I got to wondering what it was about childhood summers that made them so great and so stress free.
Here are a few ways to reclaim those happy days to make more of the summer of ’17 (not quite so catchy!).
- The school uniform
As a 30-something, one of the stresses of summer is the colourful, skin-bearing, accessorised, never ending wardrobe that we (and the magazines) expect us to own. Summer mornings are therefore spent surrounded by mountains of unsuitable outfits as we scorn the sunshine and declare for the 3rd time that week “I have nothing to wear!” As a primary school child, that was never a problem. That little checked summer dress or grey shorts and polo shirt were thrown on, accessorised with a dashing pair of bright white socks and, if you were a girl, and a really lucky one at that, a pair of those patent Clarke’s shoes with the keyhole in the sole.
This school uniform was liberating, not that we appreciated it at the time, as it meant we woke up in the morning and knew exactly what we were going to wear. No faffing around trying on outfits in a sleepy daze when you should have left 10 minutes ago. So how to reclaim this liberation – get your outfit ready the night before (shoes and accessories included) and have it laid out ready to put on in the morning. Voila, a much more pleasant breakfast time with more time to spend thinking about the daisy chains you’ll be making at lunch!
- About those daisy chains
One of the things that also seemed to last forever as a child was lunch time. That sunny hour crafting endless daisy chains or kicking a football between two jumpers without so much as a thought to what work came in the afternoon; absolute bliss. There wasn’t the option to stay in the class and work through lunch, in fact in secondary school I distinctly remember monitors kicking you out of the building each break so you were literally forced to switch off and have fun.
So, how to make adult summers feel much longer? Kick yourself out at lunchtime. You don’t need to cartwheel down a hill or play tag (though don’t let me stop you), but if you get to enjoy some vitamin D for a good hour in the middle of your day, I am sure you’ll feel you got more summer for your buck come October. Get out there and do something with that hour – you aren’t paid for it and you’ll be much more productive in the afternoon too.
- Those sandles were made for walking
Go to a park one Saturday and see the children running and playing. I bet you my collection of summer accessories that you will not hear a child under 10 complain about exercise or being unfit. You won’t hear them calorie counting their ice cream or clocking how many steps they’ve walked. You’ll just see them running, skipping, kicking a ball or riding a bike like it’s what their bodies were made to do. They have no agenda other than to enjoy the moment of being free and playful. Moving their body isn’t a means to an end; for them it’s not about losing weight or toning up, it’s an end in itself, to be outside and free. This summer, why not play more tennis or run without your app clocking the miles, or just kick a ball in the park, for no other reason than because you can, and because the weather will let you. I guarantee the adrenaline will be worth the effort.
- Build your own den
One of my fondest memories of my childhood was time spent building, decorating and having tea parties in the ‘club house’ at the bottom of my best friend’s garden. The club house was effectively a den, but instead of a sheet casually thrown over the back of two chairs, it was made of wood and nails and lovingly crafted by said best friend’s dad. It was our own little haven, filled with board games, boy band posters and a bright pink casio cassette player. We must have clocked over 100 hours in the club house every summer and when we were inside nothing else in the world mattered.
I’m not expecting you to get your toolkit out, but I would encourage you to create your own little haven. Even if it is a deckchair in a sunny patch in your garden, or a picnic rug in your favourite park, find a place where you can switch off, listen to the sounds of the summer and enjoy an hour or two of being totally in that moment.
- Eat ice cream
Just because we all deserve a bit of what we fancy every now and then. This weekend I saw an 80-year-old man order a “99 Flake with all the sauce and sprinkles”. The sheer joy on his face as he was handed his cone filled with nostalgia was just wonderful. Have your sauce and sprinkles moment and enjoy every minute.
So, a few childhood inspired ways to maximise your summer so you can be confident you made the most of it when the orange leaves start to fall this autumn.
See you on Hampstead Heath!