Today's post is by contributor Diana Jones.
The last bell rings and the kids run out out school screaming: “Last day of school!!” They are full of joy and enthusiasm as they anticipate what their summer will bring.
As a full-time working mom, my reaction isn’t quite as joyful as my children’s…okay it’s a lot different. What I feel is a bit of happiness mixed with larger doses of apprehension! Don’t get me wrong, I love spending quality time with my children. However, a lot of the time my kids are home, I will be in front of a computer working. So I’ll be spending the time minus the quality.
I am blessed to be able to work from home; it gives me the ability to see my children throughout the summer. And since my husband works for a school, he has the summers off. Even though we have this unique scenario that lends itself to flexible family time, every year we need to organize our summer very carefully to make sure that our kids aren’t just experiencing digital entertainment, but a fruitful and fun season.
He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a broken down city without a wall. Proverbs 25:28
Before we start planning, my husband and I talk about the budget and what we envision our summer to look like. Throughout the years, we have followed these steps:
- Set a budget for activities.
- Consider my work schedule and limitations.
- Focus on what our family would like to do.
- Make a plan, but leave room to be spontaneous.
Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established. Proverbs 15:22
I ask a few of my organized and creative friends what activities they have planned for their children during the summer. I can count on getting a couple of good ideas from them, such as the the latest camps their children will participate in or what new Vacation Bible School they might be attending.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? Luke 14:28
I take a look back at activities we have enjoyed in the past and check to see the date/time of each for the summer ahead. Then I start compiling my list. We are a budget-conscious family and one of the budget-friendly choices my children liked in the past couple of years is Vacation Bible School (VBS) at a local church. This is a great activity where the children easily make friends while learning Biblical truths. They always end up having an amazing week that they truly enjoy. The following is a list of other budget-friendly ideas:
- Library Events. Most libraries have a summer calendar filled with activites including story times and reading programs that are free.
- Movie Theatre. They often have discount days. For example, Regal Theatres, in locations throughout the U.S., have a Regal Summer Movie Express. Each location plays previously released movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. throughout the summer. Admission is $1 and a portion of the proceeds benefit the Will Rogers Institute.
- Play Dates. We’ve scheduled a standing “appointment” on the calendar. And we take turns hosting with another family so they can get work done too.
- We take walks, bike, or pack a picnic for the park.
- A Local Beach day and/or Pool Time are easy inexpensive activities.
- Free Concerts and and Other Entertainment and Sports Events at area parks are often scheduled throughout the summer.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God… 2 Timothy 2:15a
We take education seriously, so we have set up our days to include a time of learning. This allows our kids to stay tuned to what they were taught throughout the school year. My husband and I have found that it’s important for us to balance their day in this way so that when they return to school, the work will not overwhelm them. Tools we use are:
- Age-appropriate workbooks.
- Books. Reading daily improves many skills.
- Computer programs that track learning such as: Reading Eggs, Reflex Math, and Rosetta Stone Spanish.
Vacation and Weekend Day Trips
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:Ecclesiastes 3:1
Vacations are a great way to break up the summer. We can’t always get away for a week or two at a time because of our work schedule. Instead, we look to take day trips with our kids. This summer, one of the day trips we’re going on is to see Noah at Sight & Sound Theatres. Sight & Sound is the largest faith-based live theatre in the country and has been described as "Christian Broadway." Last year, nearly a million people from around the world came to experience a production at one of their theatres located both in Lancaster County, PA, and Branson, MO. We are looking forward to watching the Bible come to life and we believe that our kids will remember this trip for years to come. Other ideas are:
- Amusement Parks
- Water Parks
Check out your local warehouse stores for discounts on area attractions.
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Exodus 20:11
Our family is intentional about scheduleing times of rest. Yes, we will create some great memories with the action-packed activities on the calendar, but I’ve found that many times our children need quiet time at home relaxing rather than going out. Sitting around the dinner table, not having to rush to an appointment or event, is one of the ways we bring summer refreshment to our family on an almost daily basis. Wonderful memories can also be created in the middle of being still, talking and just being together.
Keeping our children active this summer while we work doesn’t have to be frustrating and discouraging. With some careful planning, we can come up with a plan that combines activity with slowing down and a schedule that balances work and play, so we all enjoy ourselves.
Before we know it, the first school bell of the year will ring and we’ll start to miss our kids again…well maybe!
Need help planning your Summer Juggle?
Download a Free Summer Planner HERE.
Diana Jones is a compassionate wife, mother, grandmother and friend.
She is passionate about sharing God's love and all that He has done throughout her life. She is also looking for opportunities to grow spiritually through reading, prayer, singing and being in fellowship with others. She is thankful for the opportunity share her stories here at Circles of Faith.
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