Summer is coming. The warm, long days encourage us to slow down and break out of the normal school routine. Even if you school year-round, summer brings with it different opportunities and challenges from the rest of the year. Prayer, planning, and some forethought can help each family get the most out of summer. The last thing you want to happen is to look back on a summer and feel like nothing significant happened and this special season was wasted.
There are only about 1,600 days of summer during childhood if we count from birth to age 18, so these summer days are few and precious. You can determine how to best invest the special summer moments by thinking through your priorities and values and the direction God is leading you.
Time is one of our most precious commodities and we should always seek God about how to invest it. How is God leading your family? The summer might involve engaging in some important entrepreneurial opportunities such as running a lawn mowing service or hosting craft camps. Or perhaps the summer will be consumed with house renovation projects, including the whole family in the work. You may visit extended family that lives far away in order to honor grandparents and give your children roots that extend into past generations. Seek God and ask Him what He wants for your family this summer. Then consider how your priorities and values line up with God’s direction.
Here are some things to consider:
What’s Important to You?
What are your priorities for the summer? Every family’s priorities might look a little different. Even within a family there can be different priorities among the family members that need to be taken into account.
In my family, I have some kids who love unstructured play time, and they use their time very well. They create Lego worlds and dig holes in the backyard. They have Nerf gun wars and play tag. They write stories and compose music.
Other family members love adventures and want to go on regular outings. I’ve found summer is a great time to take some of the excursions we don’t have time for during the rush of school. I try to accommodate both desires and have unstructured days and outing days scheduled into our summer break.
My husband has a priority of putting in a vegetable garden every summer and this means a lot of time at home to plant, weed, water, and harvest. I try to make sure he has time to pursue his passions too.
As the kids have gotten older, we have also prioritized having a family adventure each year. For the past couple of years, this has involved a cross-country road trip. An elaborate vacation is not going to happen this year, but I’ve already scheduled a trip to a nearby mountain town so we can still feel like we got away from the daily routine to make some memories. I know from experience if we do not get the family trip on the schedule and plan for it, it will not happen.
What are your family’s priorities this summer? Whether your priorities involve free time, outings, or an abundant harvest, knowing your priorities and planning for them will help your summer go much more smoothly.
What Do You Want to Avoid?
It’s also good to consider what you don’t want to happen this summer. Free time can be dangerous if it gets sucked into the vacuum of screen time. I think every family has to work to manage the powerful electronics in their lives. Setting strict screen time limits helps defeat the temptation to flip on a switch as a cure for boredom—and those limits should apply to parents as well as kids. One of the priorities we should have for vacation time is to have something to show for it other than a new level reached on a favorite video game or a TV series binge-watched.
What Are Your Values?
Another thing to consider as you look at the summer stretched out in front of you is what are your values? Values are the principles or standards of behavior that stem from what you judge to be important in life.
For us, family time together has always been a high value. Everything in our culture tries to pull a family in multiple directions, so in the summertime we are careful to choose activities we can all enjoy together. We’ve found if we want our children to have close relationships with each other, they need to spend time together, and this is not always easy with a fourteen-and-a-half year age gap between the oldest and youngest child. Activities like gardening, hiking, hosting a summer Bible study, and reading good books aloud together brings everyone together and gives them shared experiences.
We also value productivity. I purchase craft kits and science kits for the kids to use during their vacation time. We have competed in the county and state fairs with art and craft projects for many years and this gives the kids a little extra incentive to work on and finish their projects.
What are your values for your family this summer? Knowing what you’re aiming for, such as family time together or productive free time, will help you manage your time this summer to reflect those values.
Psalm 90:12 states, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
The wise mom knows that summer is short and we must be deliberate in making the most of those ninety days. Seek God, analyze your priorities and values, and then set your schedule to make the summer rich and full of memories. Even if the unexpected happens to upset your plans, remember that a man’s heart devises his way, but the Lord directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9) and trust God to make something beautiful out of your summer.