Do you ever miss Summer?
For those of us who are no longer in school, summer isn't really that much different than the other 9 months of the year, is it? If you find yourself in that position, do you miss summer? Do you ever miss staying up late with no concern for what time the alarm will go off in the morning, or swimming until your eyes are so over-chlorinated that you see rainbows everywhere?
My wife now works as a school nurse so she actually gets a summer break, and of course my kids are out of school, sleeping in, and enjoying their time off, but as for me, well, things are moving on just as they have before. In fact, if anything the lack of clear schedules, bedtimes, and weekdays vs weekends has actually made it more difficult to find time to connect with my family at times.
If this at all resembles your life, then I have one challenge for you this summer - Don't MISS Summer! The great opportunities we have to build lasting memories with our spouse and family, and to instill key values into our kids can be easily missed while they are at home lounging and we as parents are off working. It's my goal this summer to capture those opportunities, re-orient myself to the summer schedule, and make the most of these days while my kids are out of school. I know to do so I will have to be intentional! To that end here are my Top 10 Family Summer Ideas, most of which with any luck, I plan to put into practice this summer:
10. Go on a family vacation
While this seems simple, less and less families are taking out the time to get away and spend time as a family for an extended period of time. It doesn't have to cost a great deal of money, (go on a "stay-cation" in your town), but be sure to take the time away from work to get away with your family. Ask anyone about their favorite family memories and most likely they will tell you it was a family vacation. One note here: I try to not "overschedule" our family vacations either. Keep them simple, allow the family to bond, even allow the kids to get bored together - it will lead to a richer more memorable time together.
9. Go to church
Summer time can easily become a time where we disconnect with the regular routine of bringing our families to church because we are traveling, and going. Remember that what we DO communicates more to our familes than what we SAY. Keep fellowship and gathering with the body of Christ a priority in your schedule.
8. Do a Project (together)
7. Define Summer Challenges
A few summers ago I realized that if I will lay out a few age-appropriate challenges for my kids it makes the summer an intentional time to teach my kids those things I want them to know before they leave me home. (admittedly, I have done a better job of this with my son) Challenge them to learn how to have a quiet time, to complete a reading challenge, to change a tire, or develop a personal budget. As parents we have the responsibility to prepare our kids for what's coming and to be productive members of society (Dads I really feel you should set the pace here) Don't have kids? Write up summer challenges for you and your spouse and share them with each other.
6. Serve Somewhere
There is nothing that negates discontentment in our lives like serving others. We are reminded of the blessings that God has given us, and that we should be grateful. Serving stirs our hearts for God because Jesus came to serve and not be served. The summer is a great time to intentionally lead our families to serve because we have more free time. Make sure your summer isn't just about you- get out of your routine and set aside a day to serve others (dads this may cost you a day off at work - it's a day well spent!)
5. Go to the Library
4. Reach your neighbors
In the summertime warm weather = more people outside. Be intentional. Set aside nights to BBQ and invite you neighbors over. Consider throwing a 4th of July block party. Christ calls us to love Him and our neighbor, so we should be intentional this summer, meet those who God has placed around us, and reach them with God's message of grace.
3. Send your kids to Camp/VBS
When you meet your neighbors a great way to share that message with them is to invite them to VBS at church or to a summer camp...the thing is you first have had to prioritize your summer so that your family can attend! Consider the spiritual development that happens in 1 hour of church for 52 weeks vs an entire week of growth that can happen in 1 week of VBS or at a camp like Second's beach retreats. Looking for something g to participate in? Here is our church summer lineup at Second Houston: http://www.second.org/en/summeratsecond2015.aspx
2. Be spontaneous
1. Have a weekly family night
During the year we regularly get up together as a family, sit at the table, discuss a daily devotional thought, and pray for the day. Because my kids are still asleep most weekdays in the summer when I'm leaving for work, I'm going to try planning one night a week where we plan to meet as a family, pray, study the Bible and talk about our week. With camps, vacations, and other summer "stuff", a once a week "family night" can be essential for leading your family, re-directing family focus, and re-connecting with each other. Think: what night would work best for your family?