Summer Priorities for Parents

Summer-ParentingThe heat is on! Which means that summer has arrived. As parents, you are now faced with the daunting task of figuring out what to do with your kids during what will seem like endless days for you and fast paced days for the kids.

Now that the kids are out of school, it is no easy task trying to figure out how to fill their time and keep them busy without destroying the house, trashing the back yard and hanging the cat upside down from the tree while you are at work.

Are there enough activities during the day, to keep your kids busy and out of trouble?

“An idle mind is the devil’s playground” is a famous saying but not found specifically in the Bible. It is an English proverb, originally rendered as, “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” The principle involved, however is found in the Bible.

We are told in 1 Corinthians 15:58,”Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain,” so we should always be BUSY doing what’s right.

Though finding ways to keep your kids busy during the summer months is a good thing, is busyness the best thing if it does not involve you?

As parents, my wife and I have already started filling the summer calendar with busyness so that our four children are not being idle, but as I look at that calendar I know the value in having my presence written into many of those activities.

The greatest activities that you can make for your children during the summer are the ones that involve you. As parents you can create some incredible memories for your children by being around more during the summer. Your presence will be what your kids remember the most when the summer is over and they are heading back to school. It may mean that you have to take some of your PTO time from work, or rearrange your schedule, but the sacrifice you make is worth it.

Start with the calendar
Look for specific days in your calendar that you can be with your kids. Even if that means spending a few less hours at work and a few more hours of your day with them, this will make special memories for everyone. This tells a lot to your children about the value you see in them by taking time off from work. And write your plans in the calendar. This will help you not to forget and not commit to a business meeting or appointment. By writing in your calendar you are making an intentional commitment to your family.

Do not get caught up with costs
If you are on a tight budget, do not make extravagant and expensive plans to impress your kids. This type of thinking will overwhelm you and create unnecessary stress.

There are plenty of ways to have fun without the financial burden. There are local movie theatres that offer dollar and free summer movies in the mornings. Regal and Muvico show great family movies that will not break the bank for you. It is the only time you will eat popcorn at ten in the morning with your kids. You can go online and see their summer schedule, then write those movies in your calendar.

Enjoy the beach! We are so fortunate to live in South Florida and the beach is a great way to bond with your kids without spending a whole lot of money. Bring the beach basket with lunch, sun block, sand buckets and a football, then have at it for a few hours, enjoying God’s natural beauty that we are so fortunate to have here.

If you are a Bank of America member, all museums are free on the first weekend of every month. Taking your family to a museum is a great way to stay cool during the summer heat.
Get involved in many of the Vacation Bible School (VBS) programs that churches offer during the week. All four of my kids have grown up on VBS and they love it! As parents, do not just drop them off; get involved as a volunteer. Perhaps your own church hosts VBS? Get involved as a volunteer family.

Have a family picnic at a local park. The admission fees to most of the state parks are very minimal and they let you bring your own food. This is a great way to enjoy family time together.
Biking, fishing, ice skating and bowling are also some great, inexpensive ways to spend time together. Some bowling alleys even offer free games for every “A” on your kids’ report card.

Create quality communication
Investing your time with your family during the summer is a great way to take advantage of quality communication. If your home is anything like my home, things get pretty busy during the school year. Carpools, schedules, church activities and sports and all the rest can consume a lot of quality time together. Summer allows everyone to slow down for the normal chaos and take time to talk again.

Dads, you can reconnect with your daughter. Find out what is on her mind and how her relationships are going. Mom, spend time talking to your son about the things that matter to him. If the worst thing that your kids say after the summer break is over is how they were forced to talk with their parents, then that is not such a bad thing.

The best conversation that you can have is to intentionally talk to your kids about their faith. Deuteronomy 6:7-8 challenges parents to always talk with their kids about the Lord. Casual conversation about God and Jesus Christ with my kids is a great way to teach them and instruct them on life’s greatest decisions, God’s amazing grace and love, as well as how to love the Lord in return through every day circumstances.

Take a break
No one really likes routine. Routine creates a “rut.” If you feel like your family is in a rut, then you probably need to take a break from the routine.

A break for you may be different than a break for me. A break may mean going on a family vacation. My kids love going on vacation. Whether it is Disney World or the North Carolina mountains, they see the value in getting away together to do something different. A break for you may just mean, letting everyone sleep in and not making any plans for a day or two. A break may also mean, going out to lunch or dinner more often than you are used to just to avoid the work involved in cooking and cleaning. Take a break together from the normal routine and your kids will be thrilled.

Make this your best summer ever!
Perhaps you have heard the parenting phrase, “blink and they are gone.” Whether your children are newborns or teenagers, before you know it, your children will be grown up and out of the house. Time is like a vapor. Do not miss out on the awesome privilege that God has given you. Make the best of this season of your life called parenting. You do not want to look back and regret not taking time off to enjoy your summer with your children.
Summer is the best time for you as parents to invest in your kids’ lives. They care very little how much you spend, or how far you travel. What they really need is your presence and your time.

My son is a Miami Heat fan, and he has a saying, “The Heat is On!” Well, while the heat is on, get in the game! If you are intentional with your summer break and spend time with your children, then everyone wins!

Brody Howell is the founder of Core Solutions for Family Life, an organization that helps churches and ministries become more strategic in reaching the 21st century family. He is also a pastor at First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale. Brody will be leading a parenting workshop this month at the Kingdom Rocks VBS program each night at First Baptist Church of Pompano from June 17-21st.

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