Summer is made up of approximately 6 weeks or 42 days. That’s not long at all to provide your family with rest, memories, and togetherness especially if everyone isn’t on the same page with how they would like to spend their days. Summer can quickly escalate stress levels making it more sanctifying instead of relaxing. Your preparation and perspective will make the difference.
A summer with kids at home brings a dynamic that changes our once lazy-day summer experience. Before the teenage years, lazy wasn’t even in their vocabulary. They rise early, avoid naps at all costs, and fight bedtimes. As keeper of the home, you must manage your people, your place, and lots of other things! The summertime mom often extends her normal role to become camp director, referee, noise controller, summer school educator, and fast-food dispenser.
And we know that kids were not created to exist on auto pilot, not in the school or summer setting. They need direction, guidance, boundaries, fun, laughter, and protected freedom. The flip side, however, is that children should not be entertained 24/7 by mom, friends, television, video games, or social media.
The best gift you can give a child is the proper training on how to spend their days with the balance of work, play, independent activities, and time with others. Summer affords this opportunity.
Communication of expectations and a lot of intentionality make the difference between delight and disaster. Together with your children, discuss, dream, and make a plan for a summer the entire family will enjoy and remember.
Kick off summer with a brainstorming session, giving everyone a chance to share ideas and on what makes summer fun for them.
- Will there be a family vacation or a trip to visit Grandma?
- How many will go to summer camp or Vacation Bible School?
- What are some ways you can serve others?
- Are there special foods to try?
- Is there a new activity to enjoy, a skill to learn, or a summer job to consider?
- Does mom want to tackle a project, paint a room, or organize a closet?
- What will the ordinary days look like?
and of course
- What are the rules, guidelines, and boundaries that provide grace and safety amidst the extra noise, activity, and chaos—your non-negotiables?
- Keep summers simple
- Allow kids to play independently – a learned skill that takes time to develop. TV and social media are numbing agents robbing them of creativity while at the same time opening the door to much danger.
- Experience summer together – play with them.
- Eating together is not optional. So much happens around the table! If you have children of different ages, you may relax on the family breakfast hour and lunchtime may also vary but make summer suppers a priority.
- Turn off the tv and social media, please!
How to deal with a lack of schedule?
Aren’t we all thankful for summer?! Admittedly, we may be grateful for the first few weeks until boredom and chaos set in causing mom to count the days until the season changes again. Actually, I don’t do well at all with a lack of schedule, yet summer cries out for this! In fact, many define summer as schedule-less. And that’s the key—schedule less activity daily and weekly.
Many of you may thrive on the joy of many consecutive unplanned days. However, for those of us who like routine, balance is crucial! Even though summer has a rhythm all its own, some type of daily schedule helps. It doesn’t need to be super structured or “by the clock,” but kids find security in routine.
This is what worked for my family when the kids were young:
The first part of the day is often the best time for learning to continue even though class is not in session. Many schools require and even provide curriculum to keep the brain working. Before the kids race outdoors for “free play,” take advantage of this great opportunity to brush up on math facts or other subjects they lag in.
Read, read, read! Each child should have a book of their own to enjoy while the family shares the experience of a chapter book. Daily chores are also helpful in many ways! They give children something to do, keeps order in the home, and teach the balance of work and play.
Mornings, when everyone is fresh, is a great time to prepare dinner allowing one-on-one time with your child as the meal assistant.
A reset midday gives everyone space.
The house should be quiet for at least 1-2 hours (another non-negotiable), allowing babies, toddlers, and tired moms to get the rest they need. This space also allows time for mom to enjoy personal creativity. Older children can enjoy quiet games, Legos, or playing outside if they refrain from running in and out.
Once everyone has had this quiet time, the family can enjoy playing outside or time at the pool. Of course, there will be days when you want to switch it up with a morning visit to a park or the pool, and that’s okay too!
The best part about the longer days is a later bedtime. This allows meaningful time with dad and gatherings with neighbors and friends. Watermelon, sprinklers, and walks around the block bring the family closer together.
This is the time to conquer “that” project! The only schedule on the weekends for our family was Saturday morning clean-up and Sunday worship for our family. (Guard your Sabbath—it’s one of the best commandments in the whole Word of God!)
Speak to the importance of summer self-care:
Self-care is a popular term we must be cautious of. We all need times of solitude; however, too much focus on self—me, me, me—can be dangerous. Jealousy and envy stand ready to creep in poisoning us with a selfish mindset.
However, space and the need to divert daily, withdraw weekly, and abandon annually, is crucial for all of us. As a single mom, solitude was incorporated into the summer plan. Thankfully, my parents willingly traded spaces allowing me time away every summer during the intense years of raising my children alone preventing burnout.
How to utilize this time for training and investing:
Summer doesn’t have to be a time when learning and growing takes a pause. Quite the opposite, in fact, summer can provide many intentional opportunities for our families to learn and grow. Letting your kids invite their friends into your home will not only help you to know their people but will give them a safe place to play and explore.
Or try partnering with another mom for themed studies or afternoons at the pool! One of our favorite memories was picnic suppers and bathing suit showers at the pool. The kids came home clean, fed, and tired. Take turns allowing your children to have a friend join your family on an outing or vacation knowing they will one day likely return the favor.
Make summer fun!
Dedicate one or two weeks to a “stay-cation” centered around a theme. For example, discuss the miracles of Jesus and include meals, activities, and field trips that will highlight this topic. Or what about Heaven? There are many ways to teach on this subject in ways the kids will never forget—horseback riding while talking about Jesus’ return on a white horse with dinner at Medieval Times. Or tubing down the river to emphasize the crystal river flowing from the throne of God, and gold mining to bring to life the streets of gold!
Incorporate heroes of the faith into your summer devos. This is a great time to introduce your children to the legacy stories of family members they never knew.