Listen, for parents with children in school summertime is always a season of change. The normal yearly rhythm comes to a screeching halt and we are forced to embrace a new reality. Even if we’ve gone through it before, we always tend to feel caught off guard by it.
Summertime can potentially be a good gift, but we are really good at turning good gifts into gods and whenever that happens, these good gifts end up becoming curses. What tends to happen is that we put so much extra pressure on ourselves to create a perfect summer experience, with perfect activities, and perfectly crafted and curated memories… in an imperfect and fallen world with imperfect children and you guessed it, imperfect parents!
Here’s the reminder that you need to hear again and again:
Summertime isn’t about you, it isn’t about your kids, and it certainly isn’t about having perfect days, perfect rhythms, nor perfect fun-filled activities.
Summer is about God and HIS glory.
But summer is also a good gift (given by God) from which we can benefit greatly; a break (for the most part) from the fast-paced American/Western rat race. It is a built-in 10-12 week sabbath for many families, meant to be received, enjoyed, and experienced.
Yet we enslave ourselves to the keeping-up-with-the-Jones’ pressure to seize the day, fill it full of fun activity, get as much done as we can, and make it as non boring as we can for our kids so that they are always happy and so that we don’t have to feel an ounce of guilt.
But you could fill every moment of your summer days and still not make your kids one hundred percent happy. Why? Because fun and busy-ness will not ultimately satisfy your children. They will find a way to be unhappy.
So please don’t succumb to the pressure. Instead, walk into this summer free from the burden of creating a perfect summer for your kids. Embrace the margin for rest, and come up with a loose plan that you hold with an open-hand, that is subject to change, and that incorporates some important elements that will help you enjoy summer as God intends - as a gift! Or don’t come up with a loose plan and watch God still be good!
Just In Case You Feel Like Having A Plan
If you do happen to come up with a loose plan for your daily summer rhythms, the following five elements tend to set you up well as you do the daily dance with your kids:
[A caveat: I realize that this is potentially only helpful for a segment of our readership - those families with one or both spouses at home. For the rest of you, these five elements can still be incorporated, just on a much smaller and different scale. If you have questions, please contact us and we will be glad to help you think through how to make this work in your context.]
- Jesus Time
- Fun Time
- Learning Time
- Rest Time
- Exercise Time
- Jesus Time:
- Spend a few minutes a day with your kids in the Bible (or a storybook Bible).
- Ask these two questions: 1. What does this say about God? 2. What does this have to do with me?
- Take your kids through a catechism. This is a great option.
- Pray with and over your kids.
- Ask your kids each day how God showed them that He loved them.
- For older kids, give them a reading plan to work through. This is a great resource.
- Memorize Scripture with your kids. Let Kid Theology help you out on this one.
- Fun Time:
- Come up with a bucket list (a forthcoming resource is headed your way so please be patient).
- Remember to give your kids the gift of boredom (encourage them to find ways to have fun).
- Fun tends to be self-serving so teach your kids that they can have fun by serving their family (chores - Can I get an amen!?), neighbors, or church.
- Fun family activities don’t usually have to involve spending a lot of money (i.e. Family fun Friday movie and homemade pizza night).
- Learning Time:
- Just because your kids aren’t in school doesn’t mean you need to shut the learning down.
- Even if your kids don’t particularly love learning (and there are tons of these types), there are age appropriate, semi-fun (haha), inexpensive workbooks for all ages to help better prepare them for the next school year. And, they are relatively plug and play so you won’t have to feel like a tutor.
- You can also take advantage of summer reading lists, provided by schools and local libraries, or just create your own.
- Rest Time:
- Summer provides a ton of margin for rest and hopefully you will feel the freedom to take advantage.
- Even if your children are past the napping stage, have a quiet time in your house for an hour each day.
- If your kids struggle with boundaries, remember that you are the parent, not them. Rest time can be a great teaching moment to help your kids understand the value of shutting it down.
- You need rest (probably more than your kids) so please make this a priority.
- Exercise Time:
- One of the best ways to relieve some of the tension of all that pent up energy is to give your kids the gift of exercise.
- A walk, a jog, a bike ride, a scooter ride, or an in-home boot camp are a few ideas.
- This app is amazing, providing various workout routines to be done at home where you set the time and difficulty boundaries. It also gives you visual instructions on how to do each exercise. My kids love this!
One More Reminder (Because We All Know We Need It)
Remember, you don’t have to have a plan at all in order for this summer to be the best summer. If your goal is Jesus and His glory, your summer will be a success no matter how you spend your days. This post was to just guide you in case you felt like putting some meat on the daily bones.
We are praying for you, that you will aim for God’s glory, be freed from the pressure to make this summer perfect, and have the grace to receive this summer as a gift.