We are right in the middle of our summer vacation. Maybe you and your family have gone to the beach, the swimming pool, played outside, grilled out or piled in the car for a road trip. We traveled to the beach at the beginning of this month which was a treat because we had not planned to go. Summer usually brings to mind ideal images of fun and sun, but it isn’t always like this. Summer vacation with children is not one big ray of happy sunshine the entire time. I know this, so by mid-May I was mentally preparing to “sink or swim”.
I’m genuinely thrilled to spend this time with my son, but also slightly terrified. As the fun increases, so does the workload for mom. There is generally about a week of mental transition for me to shift my attitude in how I approach these “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer”. I want to enjoy this precious time, to be fully present, not wish each long day away waiting for his bedtime to arrive. This can be hard on some days, but I know that my attitude sets the tone for the rest of the household. I don’t want to be the “grumpy mom”, so I wrote down a few ideas not just to endure the rest of the summer, but also like it.
Here are some ways to help you also love the summer you actually have:
1. Write a bucket list
Good for you if you have already done this! But it’s not too late to start if you haven’t. Jot down an overview of what you hope to experience or accomplish with your kids. Make sure to include lots of free and low costs options too. For example, make an afternoon of a water balloon toss and running through the sprinkler. Spend some time at your local pool, which usually costs a few dollars if you aren’t a member somewhere. Take note of interesting cities around where you live and make a daytrip to the zoo, aquarium, children’s museum, etc. Most afternoons Jesse and I go on walks in our neighborhood because that is something he really enjoys doing.
2. Write down dates of events
Is your city hosting a fireworks show? Or an outdoor family concert? Is there a $1 movie day? Write down the place and time or put it in your phone calendar so you won’t forget! Where we live there are a couple of websites that list things going on around the area. I look it over and make a list of the events I think might be interesting for us to do.
3. Make a list of goals for that week
If I don’t write things down I either forget or feel very overwhelmed by my mental list. It just makes it easier to see on paper what I would like to plan for that week. This is also true in making lists for the grocery store and meal planning 🙂 Be sure to check your local weather so you can prepare for indoor activities if needed.
4. Have some kind of structure
I know this sounds counter-intuitive to the freedom of summer but I think having some idea of what to expect next actually helps children. For us, the days are separated into morning and afternoon activities. We usually come back home for lunch and have “rest” time (a.k.a. mom needs a break). Jesse lies down or plays semi-quietly in his room for 45 minutes to an hour.
We don’t pack each day from one activity to the next either. Leave time for the slow and even boring days because that is when creativity kicks in for you and for them! Remember that you are not an entertaining circus act – chores and adult life still happen, but don’t resent the interrupted moments with your kids either. It is definitely a balancing act, filled with lots of grace for moms and kids.
5. Eliminate the clutter
I made a decision recently to try and stay off of social media as much as possible during summer vacation. I found myself constantly looking at my phone, as if the thing was glued to my hand. It made me wonder if that is how my son will picture me and it was convicting. I don’t want to send the message that this device or whatever I’m looking at is more important than him. So I decided to cut it out. Honestly it has been freeing for me because I needed to take a step back and make sure I had not become a slave to it. I think in our culture this is so easy to do because entertainment is literally at our fingertips so we never have to experience boredom…but I digress. I just know it has helped what I put my focus on.
6. Pray for how your kids will remember their time with you
Pray for a different perspective and attitude toward this ample amount of free time with your kids. Look at it as an opportunity to pour into them your time, love and wisdom. Seriously. Not every moment will be golden, but it can be a useful lesson for them and for you. (Sanctification anyone?) By God’s grace hopefully the good times will outweigh our moments of failure. Learning to love the realistic summer I have with my son, seeing it as a gift has helped me to enjoy our time together instead of looking at him as an obstacle to the “perfect summer”, because there really is no such thing to begin with.
Grace upon grace,
Need more ideas for the summer? Here is a little list I made just for you!
*Library- check to see if your local library has story time for your children’s age
*$1 movie days
*Water parks/Splash pads
*blowing and popping bubbles
*building forts with sheets and chairs
*playing board games and card games
*reading a book together
*treat them to McDonald’s, Chic-fila, etc. and have fun in the play area
*use Pandora and put on a kid station for random dance parties!
*bake brownies or cookies together….can I come over?
I’d love to hear what you and your crew are up to this summer! What are some fun things you are doing?