I know you. I’ve been you. It’s May and you are so over school.
You are over science projects that involve late-night trips to Target, and one million school permission slips, and person of the week posters, and lost binders, and room-mother cupcakes to bake, and being the Enforcer of All things Homework.
You’re ready for Summertime when the livin’ is easy. You have dreams of vacation and weekend lemonade stands, popsicles, and your kids happily making forts in the back yard or having a marathon game of Monopoly on a stormy day. There will be barbecues and lake time, sparklers, hopscotch and baseball games that will just magically happen like at Disney World where no one ever loses a flip flop or their temper.
Can I offer a few suggestions before Summer is upon us and your dreams come crashing down like the Excalliber Roller Coaster at Valley Fair?
1. Manage expectations. Maybe have a fun family dinner to kick off the summer. Grill everyone’s favorites, play a game of Corn Hole (or whatever)in the backyard or at a park and talk about what everyone is looking forward to this summer. Ask: What do you think will make this summer great?
2. Have a plan. I KNOW, you’re thinking, “A plan…how precious.” Just stick with me a minute. You think you’re going to love all the free time you have in the summer with your kids, but then there’s All That Free Time with your kids, and then there’s the panic response of signing them up for All of the Things so you’re as busy as during the school year.
The book that saved me when my kids were little was Sanity in the Summertime (I’m sure there’s a more current equivalent too). It’s full of activities and suggestions, but one of the things the authors suggest that we always did was to have your kids set summer goals in each of 5 areas. Here they are with some examples from our family:
- Recreational – hikes, strawberry picking, trip to the zoo
- Intellectual – books they wanted to read, or something they wanted to learn about. It could also be nailing a skill they had trouble with in school
- Spiritual – Scripture to memorize as a family, a Bible study, or a character quality you want to focus on
- Physical – swimming across the lake (we had a small lake), tennis lessons, for me it was always weigh loss – some things never change 🙂
- Service – baking cookies and taking them to a shut-in, or going on a church mission trip
We made a big chart out of poster board and every family member was in on it. I tried to plan one special outing with the kids each week. Katy and I still often do summer goals!
3. Relax and laugh at yourself. Because, heck, life happens (this was the part I was least good at). Hold the “plan” lightly. You’ll have to go to plan B (or c,d,e,f….). You’ll need to call audibles, but that’s part of the adventure. Maybe at the dinner table each night (or as often as you manage family dinners 🙂 ), ask each child, “What were you proud of today? What did you wish had gone differently? Where did you see God?”
It doesn’t matter if there are rainouts or meltdowns, God is still there to be found on these hot summer days. And if you make it to Labor Day with the same number of living breathing humans you started with? Score!
What are you looking forward to this summer?