“Do you have any plans this summer?”
This seems to be the question as the school year winds down and we attend all of the end-of-the-school-year activities.
Do I have any plans this summer? I don’t really know.
We aren’t going to Disney World this summer, if that is what they are asking. Every time someone asks me that question I feel my stomach drop a little bit. I want this summer to be good. I want to make memories. Most of all, I want to use the time that I have with my boys at home to teach them more about Jesus and help them grow in their faith. I guess I do have plans in my head for how I would like the summer to go, but we have all had those mental plans that didn’t play out exactly how we imagined them in our head.
Summer is a unique time, a break in the normal, in which we have an opportunity to set the rhythms for our families. Kids thrive on family rhythms and routine, but if left to itself, summer can be a little bit of a free-for-all. Summer can be a time for intentional development and for family relationships to grow, but it takes a lot of intentionality, planning, and quite a bit of flexibility (on our part, as parents).
So how can I set some rhythms in place for our summer that will benefit my family and children?
1. Define what is important.
What do you want out of this summer? What is God asking you to develop and teach your children? What does each child need this summer? These are all good questions to get you thinking about what is important to you this summer. Because you are part of the KFK community, I’m guessing teaching your kids about Jesus is a top priority. Maybe make a list of a couple things that are important to you and your family this summer.
2. Develop rhythms that happen each day that are based on the important things.
As I said, kids thrive on rhythms and routine. This doesn’t mean you need a plan for every moment of the day! Just take your list of important things, look at your days, and plan what moments of the day you will incorporate those important things. Most importantly, be very consistent! We like to spend breakfast time on our KFK for the month. We like to read a children’s Bible at bedtime. We like to plan our memory making, special things in the afternoons. Make a general daily outline that incorporates your “important things,” and then try to be as consistent as possible with it.
3. Keep bedtime routines, bedtimes, and wake up times consistent in the summer.
This one has been a lifesaver for my family. We change the times to a little bit later times than our school routine, but keeping a consistent bedtime and wake-up time for the summer helps keep the rhythms from derailing. We like to incorporate our priorities into bath time, bedtime, meals, and other moments that regularly happen each day. So keeping our bedtime and wake-up time consistent helps us be consistent with our essential rhythms. It also helps kids know what to expect and for our family to not give up on what is working for us!
4. Talk through the plan each day with your kids, so they know what to expect.
Every morning we write our plan for the day on a whiteboard in the kitchen. It’s not exactly what we are doing, but a general idea. Kids feel a part of the family and happier when they are a part of knowing what to expect for the day. For the kid that loves to be in charge, it helps them feel a part of the planning. For the kid who needs a positive reward, it helps them know what they are working for each day. For the kid that can get a little stressed about what is coming next, it gives them a lot of peace. This has really helped all three of my boys for different reasons.
5. Use positive rewards.
Set positive rewards up for when you reach your goals all week. We like to set it where if the boys do what is planned for the week, they get to pick a fun activity towards the end of the week. You can use an outing such as a special restaurant or meal, or family movie night, etc. My kids love this, and I feel like it helps me be a little calmer during the week. Instead of slipping into frustrated parenting, simply reminding my kids what is important this summer to our family, what the plan is, and what the reward is can help me avoid frustration and raising my voice. It keeps everyone in a more positive mood, especially me! It’s also teaching them useful life skills. We want our kids to be able to identify what is essential in their lives, as they get older. We want them to prioritize the right things in their lives and develop actions plans to achieve them. We want our kids to have healthy life-rhythms. We want to teach our kids delayed gratification. Most of all we want to teach them to have their own faith in Jesus and how to develop a relationship with him.
So what are your plans this summer? If you don’t know, I hope I’ve given you some things to think about and make your own!'