6 Tips For A Simple and Stress-Free Summer With Your Kids

6 Tips For A Simple and Stress-Free Summer With Your Kids

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,




More Than I’ve Asked Or Imagined

Ruth Simons Family

There are six rambunctious boys, two in diapers, sprawled all around me. Some of them are playing with LEGOS, while others are reading. It is rarely as quiet and peaceful it is at this very moment. There is never a shortage of bickering, hurt feelings, laughing, wrestling, and spilling of liquids at all times. Speaking of spills, a pile of laundry lies at my feet, ready to be sorted. My desk is a beautiful mess, full of little people drawings and creations that they’ve made out of paperclips and sticks…just for me.

Just to my right, the kitchen table is covered with watercolors, brushes, and stacks of paper. The boys and I are about ready to tackle some of my custom orders from the shoppe. Don’t worry–they don’t help with the custom orders–they just keep me company and learn a little painting skills along the way.

My husband, who is the headmaster of the Classical Christian school that he and I co-founded six years ago, is office-ing from home this summer. In our almost 16 years of marriage, we’ve both worked mostly in ministry roles (pastor, headmaster, collegiate ministry) and start-ups (church planting, blog/shop ownership, and school founding) where office hours are not always so clear and family and work commitments are constantly assessed and evaluated.

We are living a chaotic, wonderful, humbling life.

My story is filled with Christ achieving what I never knew to even hope for…

I never planned to be humbled and broken, convinced of my need for Christ. My checklist was full of good works and successful achievements until I realized I could never earn or be enough.

I never planned on having six children– let alone six boys. My plan was to have a thrilling career in medicine until God turned my heart toward home.

I never planned on starting a school, or homeschooling part-time (through our school model.) Teaching was not my thing, and I was definitely too impatient to work with my own kids…until God used my kids to sanctify me day to day.

I never planned to pursue writing and painting. Those seemed like luxuries and superfluous gifts until He showed me that He wastes NOTHING.

I never planned to see the pursuit of writing and art turn into a thriving and fulfilling business. Early years of motherhood were so overwhelming I thought I’d never know any different until the Lord made my inability about His ability.

I never thought my messy life could be a fragrant offering to so many others. He does immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.

Ephesians 3:20

Friends, we each have a story, and mine is no different than yours if you are in Christ. Our Savior is all about redeeming that which is lost and making it HIS OWN. If there’s anything to introduce about me, it’s this: Every word, every painting, every encouragement that I could possibly share…have been bought by his precious blood– not that I can be made much of, but that everything might be to his glory. I invite you to follow more of my journey at GraceLaced.

Because of grace,



This post is a part of our “Who We Are” Series. For all posts visit,

“Who We Are: The Stories Behind TBM Writers”

Who We Are at The Better Mom

How To Be Blessed On Mother’s Day No Matter What

How To Be Blessed On Mother's Day

I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. Mother’s Day had become a stressful holiday. No matter what flowers were purchased, they were never quite extravagant enough. No matter what words were written on a card, it never said all that I wanted to hear. No matter the gift, my family never seemed to know what I thought would celebrate my heart as a mom. I spent the first many years of being a mother wearing my husband out, often ending out a special occasion less than happy, less than grateful.

And, that was because I yearned for something my husband and children could not give. I longed for something they were never designed to fill.

Perhaps like many other menfolk, my sons and husband may or may not have always known the secret to shopping or spoiling a woman. Not many guys are keen on what’s so special about mismatched dishes at Anthropologie, chippy painted furniture at a thrift shop, 30 minutes of someone else scrubbing and moisturizing your face, or a big and full bouquet of peonies.

But, lavish gifts is not what this is about. No amount of pampering, attention, or spoiling can ultimately satisfy a heart that is seeking to be filled with what was not meant to satisfy. Expectations sprout from seeds of belief that we deserve more, better, or greater acknowledgement. Expectations stem from putting too much value on something or some circumstance that was never meant to deliver so much. Expectation is idolatry’s acceptable front-man.

So, how did I begin to really enjoy special occasions and however my men chose to celebrate me? When I decreased and my view of the Almighty increased. It was when I stopped thinking of my motherhood and the sacrifices of a job well done as being so worthy of celebrating, but rather that of the sacrifice of Christ that enables me to answer well a job that is way beyond my worthiness.

Honor is valuable, gifts are loving, and appreciation is a blessing. But at the end of the day, it’s the woman who fears the Lord that receives a true reward. Oh friend, let us always look to the approval of our Savior for all that we strive for in motherhood. May we feel celebrated this Mother’s Day, not by what is said about us or done for us…but what can be said of Him by how we mother well, as unto the Lord.

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  ”Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (Proverbs 31: 25-31)

Call Her Blessed - GraceLaced

Because of grace,




Liking Him {Balancing Agape with Phileo Love For Our Husbands}

Liking Him

I don’t mean to brag, but it’s true. My husband really does need me. Between folding laundry, picking up around the house, and cooking up dinners that are warm and ready when my he comes home, I’m pretty sure my husband knows how much I love him. It’s obvious, right?

And then, I come to Titus 2:4, where older women are exhorted to teach younger women to love their husbands…

“So train the young women to love their husbands.”  While five different Greek words for love are used in the New Testament, and the word used here is phileo, which expresses an affectionate, passionate, tender love…it’s the love that says, “I LIKE you so much!”  Paul chose to use the word phileo here, rather than agape, which describes a sacrificial kind of love. Why? 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got the serving part down–the laundry and his favorite dinners–but I can sometimes miss blessing my husband altogether by simply failing to communicate that I enjoy him, that I like him, that he is attractive to me. Oh how much my husband needs and desires my affection and not just my service!

What a wonderful gift it is to our husbands when we welcome them home with warm dinners and clean homes. But, perhaps we are imbalanced in our pursuit of expressing love. Perhaps, rather than offering a host of sacrificial accomplishments and acts of service, we’d do well to offer ourselves– our affection, our attention, our interest in what they are interested in– to our husbands. Perhaps, the Apostle Paul knew that we wives would struggle less with having agape love towards our husband, and more so with phileo…that our scale can easily tip away from tenderness towards our husbands.

And so…why, then, do we lose those tender thoughts and actions toward our husbands?

I love what Carolyn Mahaney says in Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother

“The answer is very simple: Sin destroyed my tender love…If we find that our affection for our husband is waning or has subsided altogether, then we do not need to look any further than our own hearts. Where sin is present, warm affection dissipates. Anger, bitterness, criticism, pride, selfishness, fear, laziness–all vigorously oppose tender love. This love cannot survive in a heart that harbors sin.” (p. 38)

Oh, let us find encouragement and conviction in this exhortation. That we might not simply love through sacrifice, love through acts of service…

…but may we seek to root out the sin that chokes out tenderness and phileo love towards our husbands.

And in so doing, we give thanks for the perfect balance of agape and phileo love in Christ, without which we would have no example to follow and no beautiful picture of marriage to pursue. 

Because of grace,




This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

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