Summer Survival Tip
by Becky Harling
Summer is supposed to be restful, peaceful, stress free and relaxing, right? Well… sometimes! For parents, summer can be the most stressful time of the year. School’s out, kids are home, Mom might still have to go to work, but the kids want fun summer plans. Here are five tips to help you not only survive this summer but make it your best yet.
Create a job opportunity white board.
Summer is a great time for kids to earn a little cash. Give your kids the opportunity to earn some spending money by creating a job opportunity board. Even preschoolers enjoy earning a little spending money for the dollar section at the store. Jobs might include tasks as simple as emptying the dishwasher or watering the flowers, or more complicated like mowing the lawn or doing the laundry. Next to each job, post the promised pay. For example, if your preschooler empties the silverware out of the dishwasher and puts the pieces away correctly, she might receive $1.00. If your teen mows the lawn and trims the hedges, he might receive $15.00.
Giving your kids household chores makes less work for you and more cash for them. It teaches them responsibility and you’re not continually pulling out your wallet. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Plan a vacation together as a family.
Half the fun of vacation is planning together. The vacation doesn’t have to be fancy. Borrow a friend’s house, try camping, or research VRBO’s (Vacation Rentals by Owners) for a week. Have your kids help plan. They’ll learn how to make reservations, choose activities and prioritize budgeting. Vacation becomes a great learning adventure without them even realizing it!
When our kids were younger, we had some of our best “God discussions” on vacation because our kids helped plan them. Gathered around a campfire or sitting on a beach, we often had great conversations about God. On every vacation, we chose a theme for Family Time with God and then the kids took turns leading those times. One year the theme was Jesus by the water. Another year, we looked at the miracles of Jesus. The kids loved planning and leading these times. As they got older, we studied the book of James and the book of Philippians. Our family times with God weren’t really long—maybe only 20-30 minutes—but they gave us time to focus our thoughts on Christ and His desires for our lives.
Research different church programs.
Many churches run a free VBS program or sports programs. It’s a great way for kids to learn more about God while having fun with other kids. You might even consider going on a family missions trip together. This involves raising support, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. You have the opportunity to give your kids a heart for the world and for what God is doing around the world.
When our kids were teens, we encouraged each of them to do at least one mission trip during their summer. Those trips for our kids were life changing. If your church youth group doesn’t do a mission trip, check out organizations like Youth With A Mission, Teen Missions or Athletes in Action.
Use Your Evenings for Fun.
The summer is a wonderful season to relax bedtime rules. Take advantage of the longer hours of sunlight and plan some fun. Go for a picnic, play baseball, plan an evening trip to the zoo, amusement park, or water park. Evening passes are often cheaper than daytime passes. And, your kids will love it when they feel the “rules” of the school year are being relaxed.
When our kids were younger, my husband often led them in nighttime games of kick the can or capture the flag. It felt more exciting to use flashlights and hide after the sun went down. Well into their teen years, I remember hilarious games of kick the can under the stars.
Spend a few minutes each day praising God for your kids.
Create the space to spend a few minutes thanking the Lord for each of your kids. As you praise God for your child or teen, the Holy Spirit will pour renewed love into your heart and also reveal to you specific ways you can pray for each one. Praising God is the most powerful tool I found for quieting my anxiety and keeping my attitude positive when we were raising our kids. To this day, I still spend time praising God for each of my kids, their spouses and my grandkids.
As you create summer plans, consider these ideas. Make your summer a fun-filled summer to remember.
Becky Harling is a gifted speaker and author who is passionate about awakening hope in the hearts of women so that they become more resilient, confident and joyful in every life circumstance. Married to Steve Harling, Becky’s life experience as a pastor’s wife, mother of four, “Mimi” to five grandbabies, Women’s Ministry Director, and survivor of breast cancer and childhood sexual abuse, all bring depth and realism to her message. Becky loves going out for Mediterranean food with Steve, shopping at the mall with her kids, visiting with friends at coffee shops, playing with her grandkids, and eating Sunday dinner with the whole family.
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