For kids, summer is a magical time. Finally freed from homework and stuffy rooms with too-bright fluorescent lights, freedom is calling them. Even kids who like school enjoy the freedom summer gives them to pursue their own projects and most importantly, hang out with their own families.
Of course, as an adult, your world has to keep turning. There’s no responsibility-free day, no break from the demands of your own work--whether full or part time, at home or in an office. So how do you make the magic happen? How do you make your summer work for you instead of against you?
1. Prioritize your time. -- You probably have scheduled some sort of vacation or stay-cation, but that’s only one week of twelve. Take an occasional half-day and surprise your kids with a trip to the zoo, museum, or water park. If your work is flexible, this is a great no-cost opportunity to send an “I CARE” message loud and clear to your kids. If your work is less flexible, you can strategically time a personal day, or take full advantage of a holiday weekend.
Kids notice your patterns probably better than you notice them. They notice when you work late, and when you come home early. They notice when you’re distracted and not fully enjoying the moment with them, and they notice when you see them as the only person in the room. Even if taking time off is not an option, set a goal to come home on-time every night and enjoy a sit down dinner with your family.
2. Prioritize their time -- Let’s face it. As much as your child may enjoy watching TV or playing video games, those things will not create for them the magical, amazing summer they want. And as kids, they are still learning how to use their time. Create screen-free time at home and have your children work on personal projects, play outside, or enjoy a family activity together.
Think back to your own summers at home. You probably don’t fondly remember the time you spent watching TV. You remember working on that new painting, trying to write a book, building a model car, creating made-up worlds in you backyard. These things don’t just happen. They result when parents decide to prioritize their children’s time and say no to what is simple in favor of what has lasting meaning.
"So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do." Ephesians 5:15-17
Intentionality is the greatest gift we can give our families, regardless of our life stage. It shows that we understand that our lives are short, and our time with our children is even shorter. When we understand that the Lord has called us to train our children, and we prioritize that purpose, we begin to make the most of every opportunity to see our children grow physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
The world we live in does not value the same things we do, as Christians. When left to its own devices, the world will often sows negativity and immorality into our kids. Intentionality ensures we are constantly being a source of life, instruction, joy, and peace to our families! It ensures we are constantly putting them ahead of ourselves in a way that is fruitful and makes them feel valued. And in an essence--feeling valued is going to make your kids’ summer amazing, magical, and unforgettable.
3. Try new things! -- Regardless of your schedule, you probably have at least one, if not two days off work a week. Try signing up for a museum membership, or a create your own family bowling league. (Check out www.kidsbowlfree.com to see what bowling alleys in your area are a part of the free kids bowling program!)
Let your kids cook dinner--even if that means you’re having microwaved hot-dogs and mac and cheese! Become ice cream connoisseurs and compare ice cream from all the local establishments! The possibilities are literally endless! Take inventory of the things your kids have and have not experienced and provide them opportunities to try new things!
For the skeptic, try picking three or four activities and letting your child or children take turns picking the one they want to do! You may even create a new family tradition or find a new family favorite!
The bottom line to making your kids summer amazing is opening your own heart. As a parent, you put a lot of effort into making sure your home is clean, your kids fed, your job requirements fulfilled--but the most important thing you can do is be there for your kids. Think of it as an investment. Every time you take a few hours off work, or you choose to skip your day to sleep in to take the family on a day trip, you are investing into your kids. And for kids, time and energy counts for a lot.
So take control of your summer! Even if you just dedicate one day a week to go above and beyond even your own expectations for the summer, your kids will notice, and you will be like super mom or super dad in their eyes! Have an amazing summer!