No homework! Stay up late! Sleep late! Pajamas till noon! The first week or two of summer for families can come as a relief. I recall when my three children were younger. We went into relaxation mode! It was a reward for the demanding schedules of school, study and extra-curricular activities. But I have to confess, our relaxation mode quickly turned into laziness, poor habits and frustration.
That’s when I learned about BALANCE. Balance implies harmony, stability, calmness.
Here are some things we did in our home to stay balanced:
Set a schedule: While it’s OK to stay up a little late and be flexible, a lack of general routine results in chaos and poor behavior. Even in the summer, kids need regular bed times, a time to get dressed and afternoon naps. A daily afternoon quiet time for older children to go to their rooms for reading and rest gives space for everyone to regroup to enjoy the rest of the day. Post your schedule in the kitchen. Schedules set boundaries for a balanced lifestyle.
Make personal goals for the summer: Help each child set three goals for the summer. Here are some suggestions: learn to swim, practice an instrument, read five books, memorize a passage of Scripture or perhaps get help on a particular academic struggle like multiplication tables. Take yellow construction paper and cut out a sun. Write the three goals on the sun and tape it to the refrigerator. Goals should be measurable, specific and attainable. Include an action plan. Goals should help your children grow, preparing them for the fall. Good summer goals help kids stay focused and be productive but without causing pressure.
Balance your summer calendar: Schedule vacations, church camps, VBS, etc. Make a list of local attractions and destinations to visit. Be sure to schedule time to rest and play. Summer should be a time to refresh and regroup. Our culture encourages families to be over scheduled. Don’t get to the end of the summer and feel like you need a break.
Set a budget: Summertime brings added expenses in terms of vacations, entertainment, groceries and back-to-school expenses. This causes added stress. Recognize in advance that these expenses come every year and plan ahead for them.
Don’t forget about yourself: If you are balanced, you’ll be a better parent. Prioritize your devotional life and spiritual growth. Simplify, have fun and enjoy the time with your children! Summers with your children at home don’t last forever. Give yourself permission to do something for yourself, too.
Don’t just survive the summer! Create memories to last a lifetime!
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heave