Growing up, summer was always my favorite time of the year, mostly because I didn’t have to go to school! But also, I knew that I was going to be spending more time with my dad.
And now that I am a dad, I want to maximize these moments as much as I can with my children because these opportunities are fleeting and I really love any chance I get to spend a little extra time with my kids.
Here are a few thoughts for you dads who desire to care for your kids well this summer:
- Have a (loose) plan but have a plan. This would involve moments you have carved out of your schedule each week to spend with the kids. Before the beginning of each week, think through what these moments are going to look like. Here are a few ideas:
- One morning a week, take your kids out for breakfast. Breakfast is cheap (i.e. donuts). Mom gets a break. And you get some quality time with the kiddos. Always a win-win!
- One afternoon a week, try to get off work a bit early and take your kids to the park, pool, or beach. If neither are accessible, break out the hose and sprinkler.
- Push bed time back a bit a couple nights out of the week and do something fun (game night, late night swim, dress-up, tea party, watching a movie, building Legos or playing with dolls).
- Make sure you are doing the bed time routine every night (if you are able). Mom has potentially been chasing the kids all day long. She will need a break and this will give you a great opportunity to spiritually invest in the kiddos with Bible story and prayer time.
- Make sure whatever you do, you do it intentionally. Your plan doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should be intentional. Otherwise you will not stick to it, or you will but not fully, and therefore not be engaged.
- Prepare to make extra sacrifices. Since summer brings about a new routine for the family, you may need to pick up the slack a little bit more in areas that you didn’t have to during the school year. The less you make these moments about you, the more your wife will feel loved and cared for.
- Look for opportunities to chop it up with your kids. My kids love to talk my ear off. Use these opportunities as teaching moments. I am convinced that I have become a better communicator because I’ve had to learn how to really explain things to my kids. If you can explain things to a 3 year old where they can understand what it is you’re explaining, you can explain anything to anyone.
- Bring your kids to work with you every once in a while (if your job permits this – Right now, I’m thinking of my buddy who works in a machine shop). Even though your kids may not particularly enjoy this the way you want them to (because it’s not part of their rhythm), they will always remember it. Sometimes I will bring all three of my kids into the office and they read or draw. It’s a way to continue to teach them that the world doesn’t revolve around them and it gives them a perspective for what their dad does on a daily basis.
The added bonus of this again is that mom gets a break 😉
- Find out what they really love doing and do a lot of that with them over the summer. On any given day, I can be found playing with baby dolls or stuffed animals, building Legos, engaging in Nerf gun wars, having a tea party, or having epic driveway basketball battles.
- Take More Breaks From the Work Rut Than Normal (if possible). Listen, you need to work. Because you need to provide for your family. But your kids will only be kids for so long. You will always be working, well into their adult years. Sadly, work is not going anywhere haha. But when possible, go into work a little late (early on another day to make it up) and come home early (and, again, stay late another day).
- Pray for the grace of Jesus to sustain you; to give you a love for your children (especially when they are unlovable), to grant you strength to be gracious, merciful, slow to anger, sensitive to their feelings, not harsh, present, life-giving, passionate, energized, and most of all, the greatest bridge in your children’s lives between them and Jesus. Pray for that. God will answer it.