How to Make the Most of the Summer with Your Kids

Summertime often comes with high expectations and ends with frustration or disappointment. The time before school lets out is the perfect opportunity to gather your family’s optimism and work together to plan for a wonderful break from the usual routine.

family, vacation, riding bikes

The days are getting longer. The smell of freshly cut grass is in the air. The school bus drops your kids off, and the sound of their laughter fills your heart with joy. You can’t wait for summer break so everyone can be together spending time as a family. 

Then your kids start fighting. You start sneezing from the breeze that kicked up new pollen off the lawn. You realize there are still hours of daylight left before you can send these crazy kids to bed and you forgot to defrost supper! 

It only takes a moment for the blissful thoughts of summer to turn into a chaotic nightmare. How can you prepare for the transition of seasons and schedules so you don’t lose your mind? With a little planning (and a lot of patience), your family can approach summer goals with greater ease. 

1. Skill-Building 

As your kids might groan at the idea of studying during summer break, you can sneak in training without them ever knowing it. Whether you’re working on social skills at a family reunion, reading a fun novel together, learning to grill at the Fourth of July barbecue or perfecting that belly flop off the high dive, summer offers a chance to embrace this time with newfound talents and experiences for all ages. 

2. Structure 

Arranging your calendar ahead of time is key for a calm summer. While it seems counterintuitive to fill your “break” with lots of plans, the investment of scheduling out how you spend your time will free you up to enjoy the activities you’ve been anticipating. Ask your family what their priorities for the summer are and see where goals overlap for each other. Comparing what each individual wants to accomplish with your family’s time and establishing a vacation budget will ensure that the weeks ahead hold something satisfying for everyone. 

3. Sunshine 

Get outside! This is the time of year to bust out that bottle of sunscreen that’s been gathering dust on the bathroom shelf and soak up the sunshine with friends and family. Picnics, pool time, bike rides and other outdoor activities are great ways to get out of the house and build a new appreciation for air conditioning! Have your kids pitch in with yard work, wash the car as a family, or team up with others to volunteer at a camp or park nearby. Let God’s creation remind you of how this season can grow family memories that last.

4. Sleep 

It's called “summer break” for a reason, right? As you’re making your plans, be sure to pencil in times for true relaxation. Napping, reading and listening to music are all worthy of their place on the calendar. Just because the sun stays up later doesn’t mean you have to! Do your best to sneak in an early bed time when possible, maximizing your family’s capacity for calm as well as your sanity. Don’t underestimate the value of quiet just because it’s harder to come by during this time of year. Implementing relaxing behavior early in the summer schedule will ensure it remains a priority throughout the weeks ahead. 

Summertime often comes with high expectations and ends with frustration or disappointment. The time before school lets out is the perfect opportunity to gather your family’s optimism and work together to plan for a wonderful break from the usual routine. A little positive planning goes a long way to create a happy home that lasts all summer long.

Who knows, you might even be a little sad when that school bus returns in the fall! 

Conversation Starters for the Whole Family

Ask each family member his or her thoughts about the following topics and discuss how you can use the summer break to help accomplish what’s important to them. 

  • What new skills do you want to learn this summer? 
  • How do you like to relax? 
  • Who would you like to spend time with? 
  • What did you like most/least about last summer? 
  • What’s your favorite outdoor activity? 
  • Why do you like summer break? 
  • How can we help you meet one goal you have for the summer?
Emily Pardy has her Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy and writes for a variety of Christian and parenting publications as well as her own blog, pardymama.com, where she shares about motherhood, marriage and other mayhem.