Proactive Summer Parenting

If you have the opportunity to stay home with your children during the summer, it may be a little daunting to think of all those hours your kids are at home with you. I have had a lot of moms ask me, "How can you spend all day with your kids at home?" Let me tell you, I am no saint, that's for sure. And I do understand that little note of desperation I hear. I've felt it too. It may be tempting to sign them up for every class you can afford so that you can have some semblance of order and routine. But not only is this costly in terms of money, I believe it is also costly in terms of our opportunities. If you send your children elsewhere for their schooling during the year, summer can be prime time to invest deeply into their hearts, minds and souls of our children. Even as a homeschooling parent, I need to remind myself that academics is not all there is to raising children. More importantly is the raising of their character, the development of their spirits and the cultivating their minds in godliness.

If you feel a bit apprehensive of all that time with your children, may I encourage you to look at it as a positive thing and not one to be avoided? Trust me, it is possible to be at home with your kids and have a good time in the summer. A few things that I have learned that have helped me in my own home:

1. Remember that you are the steward of your children.

God has blessed us with our children, not just to feed or clothe, but to nurture in His ways. This is an incredible privilege. Our job is not merely to chauffeur them to classes, pay their class fees, or make sure they stay out of trouble.

Rather, He has given them to us to pour our lives into. If you haven't read my Teaching Them Diligently series yet, I encourage you to take the time to do so. Summer is the perfect opportunity, if you choose to look at it this way, to cultivate and nurture their faith. This is especially true if you find yourself strapped for time during the school year.

Ask the Lord for one specific goal that is appropriate for your children this summer. And then by His power, make that your aim in all that you do with your kids. Be open to the opportunities. Be present in the moment. It could be your best summer yet.

2. Think through a routine.

Even the best planned mom is probably going to have some days at home. In fact, I personally think that if we go out, it should not be every day of the week. I have to wonder if planning every day out to the fullest with outside activities is not an act of fear.

We do not have to fear chaos when the kids get home if we have a routine. Just yesterday, I read a thought-provoking article from How Does She? entitled "No More Summer Mush Mind!" I thought it was a simple way to think through developing a well-balanced routine for our children's days. We do this by:

  • taking time to nurture our kids' spiritual lives. We can read a Bible story with them or give them space to spend time in the Word alone. Learn hymns, or take time to sing praise choruses. To some of you, that may sound hokey. It doesn't matter how you do it. Just do it.
  • making time each day to give them physical exercise. Whether it be swim classes, or simply running through the sprinkler, going to the park, riding their trikes or bikes on a neighborhood walk, give them time to move their bodies.
  • using the time to help them learn how to do household chores and care for the home. Yes, they are home more in the summer, so it does tend to get messier, but that doesn't mean you have to resign yourself to living in a pig sty for the next couple of months. Use the time to work with your kids to clean out old school papers and file the ones you want to keep away. I have a post planned sometime next month about organizing with your kids.
  • investing time to keep their minds sharp. I believe that summer school isn't the only way to do it. In fact, this week, I am going to be posting some sites that I have discovered that can help make reading, math, and science fun. On Friday, we'll talk about art, which is often neglected in our schools today (including mine!). During the summer, we have vast opportunities to help our kids link what they learn during the school year with real life.

Summer can be the best months of the year, or it can be a stress to the system. I hope that it will be the first option for you. If you haven't done so already, take a birds-eye look at the whole season, and then develop a routine for the day-to-day. Balance fun with work within each day, week and activity. (Who says being a mom is easy?)

Relish these days with your kids. You have an incredible impact on your kids. Don't let it slip away in the summer.