One of my dear friends, Rachelle, wrote last summer, “Make your summer special with the memories, not the activities.” Making memories means that your child remembers your smile, your joy, your laughter, not the stress on your face because you “can’t get anything done”. Children are like gardens; if you water them daily—and are intentional about time spent with them—they will flower and bloom and glorify God!
Find something fun you can do every day this summer. It may be spending 30 minutes a day reading a great book to your kids like Anne of Green Gables, or Where the Red Fern Grows. Taking a bike ride or having bubble time outside with your toddlers. Whatever it may be, find a way to play with your kids and make memories. Nourishing the garden NOW will result in sweet fruit later. Here are some ideas for Family Fun this summer…
Meal and Movie Mondays – Make it your PLAN to have at minimum ONE sit down meal with your family each week. Mondays can be your night! Involve the entire family in the shopping, prep, cooking, serving, and clean-up of the meal. Once everyone has eaten to their hearts content, curl up on the couch for a MOVIE night. This not only sows memories into the minds of your youngsters, fills the mutual love tanks, is a great excuse for cuddling, but it is also a good way for your kiddos to fall asleep and you not have to worry about the (sometimes) dreaded bedtime routine. It’s a win/win on both parts!
The Laundry Moms have a LIST of family friendly movies!
Trekking Tuesdays – Instead of spending all day out, why not wake up before the sunrise and head to the beach! It doesn’t have to be complicated, sometimes simple is even more memorable. Grab the flip flops, towels, and sunblock, and make a short stop at the dollar store for some drinks, snacks, and beach toys and you are SET!
OR you could check out local Museums, visit the local Zoo, read at the Library, play on Splash Pads, dance on the Beach, pretend mermaids in the Pool, find funny outfits in Thrift stores, have a classic picnic, go to the local petting farm, eat at a place off your usual path, visit local vineyards, or hike mountain trails. There are SO many places to GO!
Benjamin, my 14 year old, told me that his favorite summer memory as a child was simply going to the neighborhood pool with his siblings and some local friends. There is so much to do, and the world is yours. Take it by storm! Your kids will never forget it!
Where can I serve? Wednesdays – Check with your local church, community center, library, or even your own neighborhood. Nothing brings families closer together faster than volunteerism. Serving others can look like many different things. Sending a meal to a mom with young kids, visiting a retirement home and playing checkers with the residents or singing them a song, offering to clean a grandparent’s home, or simply creating homemade cards for a beloved pastor or neighbor, can all be ways to enjoy your summer and make a memory.
Time out Thursdays – Encourage your child to spend time alone. Let them pick out books from the library and encourage them to create their own private space with a small lamp to read. Buy them a summer journal, (and one for you that matches), and encourage them to be creative with their thoughts. Write poetry or a song, paint or draw pictures, whatever it is that inspires creativity in your child’s life, encourage them to pursue it! Many children forget to pursue their creative passion during the school year because they are ever so entrenched in the motion of the school year. Encourage them to spend some quiet time re-sharpening their gifts. It will be something that they carry with them through their entire adult life.
Freedom Fridays – Think outside the box! Show the kids the fun, creative side of you that I know is hidden in there somewhere. Let them do a Backyard Campout with daddy. Make s’mores in your fire place. Have a watermelon eating contest. Make homemade ice cream. Take big sheets of paper outside and give your toddlers that paint that I know you keep out of reach to prevent a mess, and let them get messy! Let those young spirits be free and make whatever art their heart desires! They may come back to you covered from head to toe in paint, but just pull up your boot straps, hose ‘em off, and stick them in the bathtub. They will never forget it!
Staycation Saturdays – Instead of taking the family to expensive amusement parks or water parks, plan on staying close to home. Pull the family in for some family games like Twister and charades, and just enjoy the company of each other. Laugh and tell jokes with your kiddos, make fun crafts, or just listen to music. For your little girls: let them pick out an outfit from your closet and dress like mommy. Pull out the fine china that you have tucked away for special occasions and have a tea party with your little princesses. Let them know that time spent with them IS a special thing. For your little boys: let them BE BOYS. Give them a swiss army knife and let them explore the woods, climb trees, get scrapped up knees, play in the dirt. It sounds simple, but they LOVE it! These are just a few ideas of activities you can do with your kiddos, but there is a plethora of things you could do to spend time with them that will make memories.
Unplugged Sundays – Turn off all the machines. Explore the creation God has blessed us with. Go to the lake and the parks. Go on long walk and bike rides. Watch the sunset while drinking sweet tea. One of the best ways to connect with your family, is to disconnect with everyone else. That means turn off that smart phone, shut down the computers, switch off the home phone, and unplug the TVs. Unplug everyone else, and plug in with your family. How can you get to know your family and find new ways to love them, if your mind is distracted in another world?
All this to say, make a PLAN to have FUN! Be intentional! Resist the urge to send them to one summer camp after another. Get out your calendar and SCHEDULE your FUN TOGETHER!!!
Cook a meal TOGETHER
Read a book TOGETHER
Watch a movie TOGETHER
Say a prayer TOGETHER
Sing a Song and make a video TOGETHER
Go to a pool TOGETHER
If you are still not sure what to do the next three months, brainstorm with your family what they would like to do for summer fun. Have a family meeting and ask them to suggest…
Places to go
Things to do
Books to read
People to visit
Meals to try
Projects to start
Rooms to decorate
Movies to watch
Mission Groups to join
Where to Volunteer
People to Love
Our kids are growing up fast, and in the blink of an eye, they will be teenagers, adults, married, and with families of their own. Use the time that you have NOW to pour into your children’s life. God has numbered our days, so live every day to the fullest. Let them build that fort, give them those extra bedtime kisses, let them lick the bowl, laugh a little harder, hug a little longer, kiss a little sweeter and love a little harder.