Our kids never thought it would happen, but it did. Just 6 weeks ago we were digging out of a blizzard and feeling like we’d never feel the warmth of summer. But here we are. School’s out and summer has come.
So what are we going to do this summer to make this the best summer ever?
By “best” I don’t mean spending lots of money on exotic vacations. And I don’t mean an everlasting waterslide or unending ice cream. Though those do sound amazing. And by “best” I don’t mean that our kids are constantly entertained or that they get whatever they want. That would lead to the worst fall, winter, and spring ever.
No. I’m talking about making this summer one where we can look back and say that we intentionally built something into our kids. That we did all we could to build lives that inspire. One where we can say that we stepped away from the craziness to really experience summer with our families.
So here are a few ideas; some things that we are going to try to do with our kids before the summer gets away from us.
1. Quiet Time
Really? This was our big breakout grand idea?
For a lot of us, we didn’t grow up learning to listen to God or learning to watch for him to show up. But imagine if we helped our kids sharpen their senses. Imagine if they conceived of themselves as people who could actually hear from God. Imagine if they learned the beauty of being still.
Read 1 Kings 19 to them, when Elijah doesn’t experience God in the chaos of his surroundings but in the stillness of a small voice. And then help them see the value of being quiet with God. When they’re still, they can hear the gentle whisper of the God who seeks them out.
Buy them a notebook and a pen. Maybe let them pick them out for themselves. Show them that spending time with God is their time to relax; to know they are known and loved; to hear from the One who made them. Encourage them to read a Psalm (or read one to them) and then to listen. And then to write down their thoughts. Invite them to share those thoughts with you, but don’t require it. The point is that they learn to be still and to enjoy God’s presence and love.
Maybe they’ll learn to look forward to that time.
2. Fake Bedtime
A couple times this summer, put the kids to bed. Once they’ve settled in, get them up again. Have something special planned…like ice cream (or cereal) set out at the table. Or an outdoor movie theater. Or night swimming. Or a water balloon fight. Or a glow stick party. Or a bonfire. Or a sidewalk chalk party. And let the parent who’s the stickler about bedtime be the one who gets the kids up. It’ll make it all the sweeter.
3. Go Hunting
Take your kids on a search for the best something ever…like the best beach, hiking trail, waterfall, smoothie, park, pancake…whatever you want to look for together. The point is to go somewhere you’ve never been to enjoy something together. And when you find it, decide as a family what you’ll hunt for next time.
4. Be Present
As we sometimes do, we’re going to remind all of us to consider spending more time unplugged this summer. It’s not about never having our phones on us or being dogmatic about it. But when our kids are at the beach, running around in the yard, or being goofy, let’s unplug. When they’re kicking the ball around or building their world, let’s unplug. When they’re having their quiet time, let’s unplug. They’ll feel the difference. So will we.
Of course, in addition to this, don’t forget about the rich culture of the Twin Cities. We live in a spectacular part of the country and the state. There’s much to do and experience. Splash Parks. Parades. Community Events. Don’t procrastinate. Find the things your family would like to do and plan ahead.
So there it is. A few thoughts from us. What about you? What are your thoughts and ideas on how to make this the best summer ever for your kids?