I love summer. With both my girls in school, I look forward to spending summer days with them and getting to pour into them all the things I choose -- not things dictated by the school curriculum or the amount of time we have between school and soccer practice. Don't get me wrong, we have some incredibly long days in the summer, but mostly we just have fun -- and we might learn something along the way, too.
I want my girls to look back on their summers when they're grown, and say "That was so much fun. I want to do that with my kids." I want those memories to include times with their friends and times with just the four of us. I also want them to look back as adults and think about all the things they learned in the summer.
Wait, you're saying, that's a tall order for just three months of the year. It may seem that way, but with just a little bit of planning and creativity, you can provide your kids with summers to remember for years to come. All this week, the blog posts are going to focus on fun things to do with your kids in the summer that include ways to teach them some Everyday Truths while they're having fun. Some of them will take more planning and time than others, but my prayer is that some of these ideas will spark your own creativity.
Remember, that the most important part of summertime activities is the fun. John 10:10 tells us that Jesus said that He came so that we may have "abundant life." That abundant life includes joy and laughter, and summertime calls for lots of it.
Today, we're going to focus on planning your summer. If you spend a few minutes (ok, maybe half an hour) planning out your summer, then you'll be sure to include all those things you've thought about but never done. If you put it on the calendar, you're way more likely to go ahead and do it than if you just say "We'll do that sometime this summer." Here's the steps I follow to planning our summers.
1. Decide what you want your kids to get out of the summer. What do you want to emphasize -- friendship, family, learning new skills, trying new things, etc. What truths do you want your children to learn this summer?
2. Get out a calendar -- I use Microsoft Outlook -- and fill in the things you know are going to happen -- vacations, camps, vacation Bible school, etc.
3. Choose activities that fit with the things you want to emphasize over the summer and add them to your calendar. For example, if you want to encourage closer friendships for your kids, you'll want to schedule lots of activities with friends. If you want to teach your kids about giving to others, then you need to set up opportunities for them to help at a food pantry or plan a garage sale and give the money to missions.
4. Include some "Just for Fun" activities that don't necessarily tie into your purposes. Some of those activities may turn into some of the most teachable and memorable moments of your summer.
5. When you're done, pray over your calendar. Ask God to show you if you've missed something that He wants you to do, and ask Him to bless your activities and offer you plenty of opportunities to open your children's eyes to His presence.
6. Be flexible. Just because you put it on the calendar, doesn't mean you have to do it that day. If God brings a different opportunity into your life on that day, just shift things around a bit. Don't be so tied to your schedule that you miss out on something spontaneous.
The rest of this week, we're going to look at some fun, easy ways to bring God's Truth home to your kids in a fun way during your summer. Hopefully, you'll find some activities that you'll want to add to your calendar of summer fun.