The bounty from gardens is overflowing. Sweatshirts need to be worn after sundown. The local pools have been drained. The faintest yellowing of leaves on trees hints at what the calendar proves true: summer is almost over. The school-aged kids and their teachers are back in classrooms and the parks are just a little bit quieter. The long days and warm nights are coming to an end, but it’s not too late to embrace the final warm days of the calendar summer.
Sure, there will be a warm day or two (or maybe eight or nine, if we’re lucky!) in October too, but there’s something about the finality of the equinox on September 22nd. Here are ten ways you can appreciate this last week:
1. Go for an adventurous walk
Being outside helps with physical health and emotional health. It also burns off energy so kids can have a good night sleep for school the next day. The sun doesn’t set until 8pm yet, so this is still possible after dinner once activities and homework are done for the day. Finding local trails or just walking your neighborhood is a great way to explore. You can set goals like scavenger hunts or distances, or you can simply wander. If your kids are a bit older and stay up past 8:00 or it’s the weekend, a walk at night with flashlights is another fun way to pique their curiosity. Look for things that you can only see at night or ways to see things differently in the dark.
2. Get in the water
Yes, the public pools are closed, but there is so much more water out there! Lakes, streams, rivers, puddles after a rain, a sprinkler, a splash pad, a kiddie pool, water balloons…if it’s wet, it’s still fun! For those of us in Minnesota or any northern state, the water play is one of the things we tend to miss most during those winter months. Take every advantage of it before it all freezes! People of all ages are naturally soothed by water’s presence. It’s a great way to please a large group of kids looking to stay busy. Once it does get cold, don’t underestimate the value of the bathtub!
3. Watch a movie outside
Check the local event listings for opportunities to watch movies on the big screens in parks or at schools, but it’s also possible to achieve at home! What you’ll need: a white sheet and a projector. You’d be shocked at how inexpensive some projectors are now–cheaper than a pack of four movie tickets for the family. Hang the sheet on the garage, the fence, the house, and choose your movie. Get out snacks and blankets and enjoy! Even without a projector, letting the kids go outside in pajamas with tablets to sway in a hammock or nestle up in a tent has an adventure quality watching a movie in the family room just doesn’t have.
4. Cook/eat outside
Fire up the grill, the blackstone, or an open campfire and let the kids make dinner themselves. If that’s not within your comfort zone, just eat outside. Use the patio furniture one more time before it gets put away for the season. No outdoor space at home or simply don’t want to cook? Find a restaurant with a patio or get some takeout and head to a park for a picnic. The hottest parts of summer are over, so enjoying the everyday tasks outside instead of inside is a short-lived treat.
5. Eat lots of ice cream
Can you eat ice cream when it’s cold outside? Yes, absolutely! But the best ice cream shops definitely close for the coldest parts of the year. Take a tour of the local shops before they shutter their doors. Eat the cones and the cakes and the scoops on scoops outside and you’re knocking TWO things off this list!
6. Be a tourist in your own town
Did you create a summer bucket list of all the things you wanted to do this year? How many more can you achieve in this final week? One? Five? Or maybe you didn’t create a list and you’re discovering things you didn’t know existed. We always want you to come visit us at the Museum, but there are a ton of other great places to check out! If you’re not local, explore your own town and find the things you’ve always wanted to do, but have never made time for. Parks, play spaces, museums, shops, and restaurants. Be a tourist in your own city!
7. Be still/slow down
September is a busy time. School has started, activities and conferences and meetings come with it, and our days just seem more hectic, simply because our daylight is shorter! Instead of adding to your list, try taking things away. Plan intentional slow and still time. Take a hammock to the park to swing in the sun with zero plans or agenda. Bring your kids to the Museum and sit on a bench in the Dotson Back 40 while they play. Just sit. Enjoy the rays on your face. Or cancel some plans. Use the gained hours to do whatever slow and quiet thing will bring you peace.
8. Clean and plan
Not everyone feels joy and calm in a clean environment, but for those of us that do, it can be life-changing. Some good end-of-summer examples are sorting and packing away the summer activity equipment, sweeping the porch, clearing the gutters, organizing the garage, and packing away the patio. Seasons changing is always a good excuse for a deep clean of the entire abode, too, if you’re up for it. Planning after clearing can be for fun or for organizing. Plan how you’d like to spend your fall fun time! Create a bucket list with the kids to finish before the snow flies. Or maybe make new chore lists now that the kids are a year older. Find peace (and maybe fun!) in being on top of things.
9. Watch the sunset
And the sunrise, too, if you’re awake for it! In southern Minnesota this final week of summer, the sun rises between 6:51am and 7:03am and it sets between 7:31pm and 7:15pm. (Exact times available here!) These amazing moments are always a good time for photos–of just the landscape or the kids, too–but they are also a time for learning about the earth’s rotation or just enjoying the glory of it. Sunrise and sunset hold magical qualities you can enjoy alone or in groups. When choosing your locations, remember, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so you might have to drive up or down the hill to get the best views.
10. Weekend getaway
Finally, if you can swing it–in your budget, schedule, or both–take an overnight trip somewhere simple. It’s not too cold to camp! You could drive to a nearby attraction. Or you could simply stay in your own town, but somewhere other than your house. Have a sleepover with friends, get a last-minute hotel room and enjoy the pool and continental breakfast, or even just put up a tent in your own backyard. Give summer one last hurrah with a night away.
What will your family do this final week of summer?