Spoiler alert! Despite of what FB and IG will have you thinking, most people are not on vacation this time of year and won’t be going away for the 4th of July. Whether it’s a work commitment, a tight budget, or just vacation scheduled for some other time, many of us are home for the summer months and maybe even holidays. While those pictures and videos look so great and fun, you have no clue what’s going on for them so don’t compare it to your life because its toxic. I’m guilty of it too. Sometimes I compare myself to others and feel the need to do more, or I will post fun cool things that me or the family is up to. What you don’t get to see (and I’m working on that part) is the tantrums, paperwork, cleaning, drama with teachers, wedding planning, my struggles with weight, and the moments when my depression or anxiety are literally kicking my ass. Heck I think we all do it and I think it’s because as humans and our new found addiction to social media and sharing our lives we always want to put our best out there for others to see, we think if it makes me feel good it can probably make others feel good too. Truth is there is nothing wrong with it. But we must remember that the more we share some of our truths and vulnerabilities the more we can help normalize a lot of the normal things we all go through but we do not talk about. One of the most impactful things I have learned as a therapist has been that we have so much more in common than we think, but our fear of judgement and letting people in has us keeping it all inside. So when we see those ‘perfect’ insta worthy pics remember that they too have things they are working on or struggling through.
So back to 4th of July activities ( I know I talk too much) 😊.
Personally, we are planning a destination wedding for next year and are saving as much money as we can since we will all be away for a full week. So although we are not taking any vacations this year, we are getting creative and taking advantage of all of the local things available to us. Being home for the 4th of July doesn’t mean it can’t be super fun and memorable for adults and kids alike.
So whether you live in an apartment or in a house with a yard here are 5 ways to make this 4th of July at home fun and memorable without breaking the bank:
1. Have a BBQ at home or a local park. If you don’t have a yard. You can do a quick search to find out which local parks are near and also what sections of the park allow grilling. If you are in NYC here is where you can find the NYC designated barbecue areas (click the highlighted text to check it out). Inviting family and friends will make it more fun and affordable for all as you can make potluck style to save some $. You don’t need a fancy professional grill, a small portable will do. A small portable charcoal grill or a small portable propane grill will do it depending on the amount of food you are making. But keep in mind that if you are having it at a local park they may already have public grills available so no need to carry a grill.
2. Have an outdoor picnic instead of a BBQ. We love having picnics because they are easy and simple. I bring our favorite picnic blanket, our favorite portable bluetooth speaker, cards and a board game, sandwiches, snacks, and water bottles and nature does the rest (click the highlighted text to check it out). The boys run, build, and climb trees while we just relax 😊. We get to relax and enjoy each other’s company with food and music. Nothing better.
3. Have an indoor BBQ. No grill, no problem. Dust off that Foreman grill or skillet and get to making some yummy seasoned burgers, hot dogs, skewers, whatever you like! Make sure you open some windows or close the doors to your bedroom so the food smell won’t linger. Pop in a patriotic or summer theme movie or put on some music and you are set.
4. Go camping in your living room or backyard (if you have one). Yes, I said living room camping, you are welcome 😊. If you are like me and don’t have a backyard just do it in your living room. I guarantee you as crazy as it sounds, its super fun, the kids love it and it takes the hard work out of planning and actually going camping. We a 4 person Coleman Tent super cheap on amazon and used it once when the boys had a sleepover with their cousin. We also used the tent when we went camping in a friends backyard. This was a few years ago and they still talk about it. Clean up was easy, bathroom was close, we controlled the temperature and didn’t have to worry about bugs or creatures. We also got some adult beverages in because why not! Win-win and stress free.
(Left) The Coleman tent set up in our living room. (Right) our crew camping at a friends backyard.
5. Do some 4th of July crafting. Pintrest is seriously my favorite place to go to when I need ideas for literally anything (click the highlighted text to check out my board) . I say give yourself 30 minutes (its addicting and a huge time suck) and look for some fun ideas and give it a go. Try to find ideas using things and supplies you already have at home. We typically restock supplies on amazon or our .99 cent store and always keep construction paper, glue sticks, markers, pencils, popsicle sticks and paint. I also try to re-purpose delivery boxes by cutting them for the kids to paint on since they hold paint better than and are basically free. It’s a nice way to get creative with the kids or to de-stress a bit with some fun DIY home décor.
6. Watch a fireworks show. Whether your neighborhood has a scheduled firework show, or you watch it on TV fireworks are always a 4th of July staple. Although we live in NYC we’ve never gone with the kids to see the Macys Fireworks Show because of the huge crowds and the standing room only set up. My boys would lose their minds so we avoid it. Instead we like to go on our roof top and watch whatever fireworks we can see in the city skyline. We DVR the Macy’s show and watch it once we get back into our apartment.
The boys with their grandma and great grandmother watching fireworks on the roof a few years back.
Internet friends, remember that the life you are living is right for you at this very moment. It’s now easier than ever to see all of the fun and fabulous things that others are doing as they share their highlight reels on social media. While seeing this can have us thinking #goals, sometimes it can also make us feel like we are not doing enough and we should be doing more. Talk about FOMO. So let’s let go of the self judgement and accept ourselves for who we are in this very moment, you are doing the best you can. Let’s shut up that voice in our head that says “you need to do more” by celebrating your accomplishments no matter how small. So you managed to take a 10 minute shower instead of a 5 minute one…yess honey! You made it to work? celebrate that! You kept yourself and kids or pets alive today? Celebrate that too!.
If all you did today was hold yourself together, I am proud of you! Now get out there, enjoy your life because if you are reading this, it means you are alive, so go out there and start living. Happy 4th!