Summer break is just around the corner! With a little forethought and planning, this year can be the most fun and productive your family has experienced. Setting expectations before the summer begins can bring peace and excitement. Here are some basic instructions to making this a summer a time you will hate to see go.
Especially with preschool and elementary aged children, kids love routine. After a very regimented school year children often feel lost without the disciplines of a regular schedule. It’s always good to have a few days of lazy relaxation, but after that establish some type of regularity in the family’s day. This can be done with a daily schedule, but it’s also nice to do this on a weekly basis. For instance, Monday is library day. Tuesday is field trip day…etc. Anticipation is almost as much fun as a planned event. Setting up a weekly schedule creates excitement and longing for the future.
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean there should be all play and no work! Make sure that there are clearly posted chores to be done before free time. This gives your children the satisfaction of enjoying their free time even more, because they have done what needs to be done before they enjoy what they want to do. It's good discipline, fosters a sense of belonging and contribution, and helps parents find time for play!
Perhaps you’d like to host a garage sale for charity, or serve at a soup kitchen. Whatever the project, create one that allows your children to see life from a different perspective. Many times summer can be full of “me” time. Creating a family project ensures that the family puts Philippians 2:4 in practice by “…not looking to your own interests but each of you to take interests in others too.” According to Proverbs 29:15, “…a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Keeping the family busy with productive activities makes for a happier and more peaceful environment.
If you are financially able, go on vacation. Even if you’re not, plan a family picnic or backyard campout. Hit the museum's free day or hike a trail. Children need to see their parents have fun and experience rest and relaxation. If they only see you working and in positions of responsibility they won’t know how to disconnect from those things when they grow older. Observing you as parents in a different environment and mindset gives them the example necessary to grow into healthy adults later.
Intergenerational relationships between kids and adults besides their parents help kids know they belong to a community beyond their peers. Invite Grandma or a friend from church. Adopt a grandparent who will love your kids and have fun together. Let your kids hear their stories of life's adventures and gain perspective beyond their own experience. Especially if you can foster intergenerational relationships at church, your kids will know they belong even when they strike out on their own as young adults.
“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…”Colossians 3:17. Even though schedules change and our focuses can be different during the summer months, make sure that your family time of worship stays at the center of it all. Keep your church commitments. Memorize a portion of scripture together. Keep engaging in regular spiritual routines, personally or corporately! Let Jesus be the one constant no matter what.
Summer doesn’t have to be a time that parents dread, or that we look back on and wonder where the time went. It can be a time for growth in ways that are not available during the school year, a time during which we establish God as the one constant in the lives of our family. With a little planning you can make this summer the best your family has ever experienced!