We are halfway through summer, and maybe you are having the time of your life with your kids...and maybe you're not. Perhaps you are feeling stir crazy, envious of those who are traveling to exotic places, or wishing your kids were involved in camps and activities that keep them busy. Perhaps you are not as fun as you thought yourself to be, and you're summer is feeling more stressful than enjoyable. Here are 6 simple things to keep in mind that make a difference at our house...perhaps they will de-stress your summer too!
1. Make a basic schedule. Include reading time, quiet time, game time, etc. Having blocks of time for different activities helps everyone feel more content and involved in the present, without constantly questioning what is next. Check out this amazing list of summertime activities and resources. Also, don't overlook the importance of free time "doing nothing"...they are more productive than you might think!
2. Kids Can Cook! We love to plan snack menus, what kid will make them, and what time to expect snack breaks. This, again, keeps the littles from asking constantly about food out of boredom. And, it's fun to take turns making and creating snacks for the family!
3. Read alone, but read together. Quiet reading time is a must, but sometimes, the dynamic of children pairing up to read is a sweet time of bonding and experiencing literature together.
4. Get out of the house once a day. Even if it's just a walk to the park, make the effort to head out with the kids. Relay races at the park? Water balloons in the yard? Delivering cookies to neighbors? Get creative and get out, even when there's "nothing to do."
Plan special dates. Make the library, the pool, Sonic happy hour, and other fun outings a privilege, and not an expectation. We love to plan for treats at the end of the week so that we have something to look forward to when all the other daily routine and home tasks are completed.
5. Learn something new. Why not try to learn a new skill with your children this summer? Why not buy some inexpensive watercolors and learn to paint? Check out Rosetta Stone or other kinds of language acquisition audio and video discs at the library and learn a language! Perhaps you and the kids can create a quilt together? How about leatherwork? beading? whittling? We, moms, tend to think that we must naturally be artistic or crafty to lead our kids in any of these activities, but really, there are so many resources available that all you need is really, desire.
6. Smile and have fun. I wrote recently about, how on vacation, my children looked for my smile more than they looked to the next thing on the itinerary. I've been humbled and continually surprised to find that my kids don't actually care what it is that we do this summer, as long as we all (including MOM) are all having fun doing it together.
And as a bonus:
Learn to love family meetings. Let's be honest, one of the most stressful aspects of summertime at home with the kids can be the constant fun-turned-arguing that happens every moment of the day with littles. A family is a group of sinful people, young and old, so naturally...being together all day every day without pressing schoolwork means more opportunities for discord and fighting. It's always so discouraging when I find myself frustrated and NOT enjoying my time with the kids.
Meet together, confess sin, forgive...keep short accounts. Talk together, pray together, spend time on the couch peacemaking. This is also the stuff of summer.
And yet, rather than wasting summer hours avoiding one another, or busying ourselves so much that there is no room for conflict, perhaps we would do well to consider those long hours an opportunity rather than an obligation. The expression "long days short years" applies here...these long days of summer are quickly fleeting. We have fewer opportunities like these with our kids than we realize.
I pray these simple ideas will breathe some new life into the remainder of your summer break, and may we find ourselves enjoying the simple, free, and stress-free pleasures of spending time with our children!
Because of grace,