Summer Series: In the Good 'Ol Summertime

Well, here we are at another new month! Over the next couple of months, we are going to do things a little differently. Instead of a monthly theme, I'll be filling the blog with ideas on things you can do with your kids this summer. They will be geared towards kids who are preschool to 6th grade, but if you've got older kids, they are welcome to get in on the fun or do some of the planning for you! This weekend, I made up a huge list of things I'd like to do with the kids using some of the links below for ideas. But may I encourage you to consider NOT filling up every single minute of your children's lives? Often times, I wonder if my desire to jam-pack their days stems from either a fear that my kids will be bored or a desire to keep them off my back with their constant presence...or both!

Summertime is a wonderful time for the things that really matter:

  • having wide open spaces to explore, create, imagine and discover: in the house, outdoors, or on the road
  • playing together as a family and spending time with others
  • resting our bodies, minds and schedules.

With these three goals in mind, the posts for the next couple of months will seek to satisfy one or more of these objectives. I hope to be able to have them posted in time for you to plan ahead. There'll be ideas for summer celebrations, fun learning activities, and family fun. Along the way, there will be recipe ideas to keep you and your home cool so you can enjoy your time together.

For our family, we are going to be sticking around close to home for the summer, but we will be taking some time off to enjoy a family camp at the beginning of July and some time at our all-church retreat in the middle of the month. Our kids will have a couple of individual activities sprinkled throughout the summer, but for the most part we will be home.

Making a Plan

If you haven't planned out your summer yet, here are some suggestions:

1. Plug in all your "fixed" commitments: classes, vacations, activities, etc. That way you will have a sense of the big picture. If you need to work, put that in too.

2. Make sure you have space in your schedule for rest and relationship. I like my schedule to alternate between time at home and time out. Not only is too many things back to back or even overlapping not restful for us, but it also creates a dependence on external stimulation and activity for "fun."

3. Write out a routine for the days that you are home with your kids. A routine is simply a predictable order of events. For us, it involves getting up, eating breakfast, some school/activity time, lunch, free time, dinner, story or family evening activity and bedtime. I don't always have activities planned every day for every segment, but I know that there are spots in our day for spontaneous day trips, picnics at the park, or time to schedule a play date.

Some days we start later, some days earlier. Sometimes we skip parts of the routine. Sometimes we do it all, but stretch and shorten parts of it. A routine is a flexible framework that allows me to have time to get to the store, cook dinner, and not feel like I have to entertain my kids all day.  This may be especially helpful if you work more out of your home during the summer.

4. Ask your kids what they want to do this summer. You may be surprised. When I asked my kids, their number 1 request is to have friends over to play. That and go to the beach. And so as I plan the months ahead, I want to make sure that those activities get incorporated into the schedule and that I block out time for those things.

5. Create an "I'm Bored" jar for those moments at home, especially if you don't want them to play video games all day. If you do an internet search on summer activities for kids, you'll find tons of lists of ideas. (That's what I did!) Here are a few sites to check out:

Summer Living: 60 Summer Activities for Kids from Martha Stewart

"Mom, I'm Bored" Edition from We Are That Family has tons of lists to go through

Summer of Fun Bucket List from Dine and Dish contains several lists linked in their post.

This should get you started! Then take strips of paper and write on them those activities that you think your kids will like or involve them in the process. Then put them in a jar (another project!) for those moments when the fidgets hit your home.

6. Focus on making memories together. This article that I read from The Power of Moms hits the nail right on the head. (I encourage you to read it!) We often substitute activity for relationship. As a homeschooling mom, I'm totally guilty of that. ("I already spend all day in school with you! What do you mean you want me to play with you?") But the two are not the same.

I hope you'll join me in filling our children's days not just with busyness, but with us.

Because that's what they need most.

PS. If my posts are more irregular, I hope you'll forgive me. I'm busy having fun!