I clearly remember the turning point when summer shifted from being the fun thing we'd anticipated to the challenge we needed to manage more effectively. For months, we had looked forward to the blessing of warm, unstructured summer days, but it didn't take long before we longed again for a bit of order and structure.
My children were happy to sleep past noon, but we needed a reality check. Not every day can be a sleep-as-late-as-you-like day. Summer chores still need to be accomplished—the garden does not weed itself, meals still need to be prepared, and summer laundry seems to be generated at double speed! So how can we can keep up with all the details while still delighting in the fun of summertime together?
The carefree days of summer can benefit from a plan. Making a plan will ensure that you don’t let summer slip away without meeting your goals. If you want to meet friends for a picnic at a local park, get it on the agenda so that it becomes a priority. If you want to take advantage of free days at local museums, schedule that time. Don’t wait until the last few frantic weeks of summer to try to create special memories. Planning doesn’t mean removing spontaneity and fun, it means setting a framework so fun can happen and things can get done.
Avoid becoming the cruise director responsible for your family's happiness. Give your children the opportunity to find ways to constructively occupy their time. Taking responsibility for oneself is an important skill to learn. Consider using a checklist to help your children channel their energy productively. A list of options empowers children to make choices and have a measure of control. This type of checklist can help children see beyond themselves as well as cultivate their gifts. Print this I’m bored checklist to help you keep your sanity this summer.
Memories are not only made during big, expensive family adventures. Many are forged through simple fellowship with one another. As we laugh together over a board game, we create stories that we will recall for years to come. Time spent working and playing as a family is one of the best investments we can make. Just as the days of summer are fleeting, so are the days that our children will be in our home and available for us to spend time with. Make wise decisions about how you allot your time.
Faith should be nurtured throughout our lives, not just during the Sunday school season. Summer is a great opportunity to spend quality time together and let your faith spill over into the lives of your family. Let your quiet time with God become a less quiet time of reading God’s word and praying together as a family. Share what you are learning together and let your passion for God spill over into your family.
One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts (Psalm 145:4).
Children will grow in faith as they see a passion for God and his word expressed in their families. Conversations around God's word are valuable moments for nurturing faith formation.
Serving others is another great way to grow in faith; and the unhurried days of summer provide a great opportunity. Summer should be more than just a time for self-indulgence. Encourage your children to daily identify an act of kindness they can do for a family member. Or, let your children learn the value of serving others by getting involved in local service opportunities.
Summer can be daunting and feel unmanageable at times. But with a little forethought and creativity, it can still be the season of rejuvenation that your family so longed for.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Deb Koster